In the last 45 days:
- Gems, my miracle cat, finally ran out of miracles.
- My mother, who lives alone on the other side of the country, was in a serious car accident that surfaced issues she’d been masterfully covering up.
- My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.
- And yesterday Elsie, my 90-pound dog, had surgery.
My twenty-something self would have been in an OMG, OMG, stress-pouring-out-of-every-pore state. Thankfully, my years of practicing the skills of choice, awareness, and perspective, as well as lots of yoga, are keeping my fifty-something self a bit more grounded.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m feeling the stress. The fact that I’ve had laryngitis for a week is proof of that!
But what I know, learned one painful lesson at a time, is that while nothing’s going to make this easy, there are ways to make rough patches either more or less hard.
I’m going with make-it-less hard :-).
And so I’m using these seven tactics to increase my sense of control and keep myself grounded. You don’t have to wait for a monsoon to use them. These tactics work anytime you need them.
- Make a conscious choice to make things less hard.
The physical and emotional torment that comes from letting stress and worry spiral out of control doesn’t help anything.
Yet in the moment, it’s easy to forget that you can make things either more – or less – hard.
- Strategically share what’s going on.
This is not the time to use your energy pretending nothing out of the ordinary is happening. There are better uses for that energy!
I’m not suggesting you share every detail with everyone you know. But for the people who will notice something’s up, you’re better off giving them an explanation instead of leaving them to make assumptions (which are rarely connected to reality).
Plus, those people can offer support – even if it’s just a sympathetic ear.
- Be realistic about what you can and can’t do.
That’s a combination of redefining good enough, intentionally deciding what’s just not going to get done right now, AND giving yourself permission to be human.
- Amp-up your commitment to self-care.
In times of overwhelm, crisis, or simply too much going on, the first thing to go is usually self-care. And of course it’s the last thing that should fall off the list.
That’s why it takes an even stronger commitment than ever to make sure you’re doing something to replenish yourself.
These last 45 days my normal workout schedule has been blown to bits. And I’ve made it to exactly one yoga class. But I’ve dragged my butt (that’s exactly how it feels some days) onto my yoga mat for at least ten minutes a day every day to sit and focus on my breath. And there’s not been a day that the return on those minutes hasn’t been tenfold.
So remember to replenish yourself when you’re tempted to let self-care fall by the wayside.
- Breathe, breathe, breathe.
During times of stress, it’s an automatic response to hold your breath.
At least once an hour take 3-5 deeps breaths. It will help tremendously.
- Control what you can.
Even in the midst of things over which you have little control, there’s always something you can
For instance: spending a few minutes getting organized in the morning, intentionally choosing your mindset, making conscious choices, and that hourly deep breath.
The more you focus on what you can control, the more you’ll increase your sense of control.
- Practice gratitude
Even in the deluge of the monsoon, I’ve been amazed at how much good luck we’ve had.
My mother’s accident was a blessing in disguise, as it surfaced issues that could have resulted in a far worse outcome. Plus, we’ve found amazing resources to help her. And my sister is going to be fine.
And it’s all given me a great appreciation for how many monsoon-free years I’ve had. Gratitude has been a gigantic umbrella during this downpour!
Where in your life do you have the opportunity to make things less hard?
Monsoons don’t last forever, nor do thunderstorms or rain showers. But if it’s raining in your life in any way, commit to the seven steps above and I promise you’ll feel less stressed and more grounded, and you’ll have a greater sense of control.
Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. ~ Gilda Radner