You Could be Talking Yourself Into Stress – Learn How to Stop
Did you know you are probably talking and choosing your way into stress? Let me give you an example from a couple of different days in my life.
Talking yourself into stress – Have you ever had a day like this?
“A Bad Day” example – I arrived at work a little late and hoping to finish the first part of my work quickly so I could meet some former coworkers around lunch time. I had not notified anyone, so no one would be waiting if I didn’t make it at the time I wanted. Still,I felt rushed and responded to that feeling by making choices that amplified that hurried and worried feeling for the rest of the day.
First I took the golf cart ride from the facility entrance to the key checkout point instead of walking as I usually do. I told myself I was in a hurry this time and didn’t have time to enjoy a peaceful walk even though it would have only taken 3-5 min longer.
Next I tried to squeeze in an extra task before starting my list of appointments which resulted in me being a little late starting my appointments and adding another dose of hurried sense of urgency.
Then during my sessions I allowed part of my brain to be clock watching and stressing about being later than I wanted to meet my former coworkers. Usually, I relax and focus nearly exclusively on the moment, what my clients are telling me, and being in tune with what they were feeling and thinking. That gives me the best opportunity to offer truly effective feedback to my clients.
As it turns out my my visit including a blood donation went quicker than expected and I did get to briefly catch up with one former colleague.
However, back at my office my wife calls and wants me to come home early. Even during the call I felt pressure to hang up and get my paperwork done and catch up on 5 overdue files. I told her I would try but couldn’t promise, got off the phone and kept typing away with a sense of urgency, telling myself I needed to get it done quickly.
After catching up 2 of the 5 overdue files it became obvious that unless I wanted to stay pretty late I just needed to call it a day…I did and left in a hurry again, irritated I didn’t get everything done.
I got home maybe 10 to 15 min earlier due to my hurried and worried approach most of the day, but was tired, irritable, and just not very happy. All those little hurried choices, telling myself I didn’t have time had all lead up to stress at the end of the day when I should have been relaxing and enjoying being home with my wife!
“A Good Day” example – I arrived at work knowing I had a lot to do that day and being a little later than ideal. I felt a bit rushed riding into work due being late but instead of giving into that feeling and choosing the golf cart ride from the entrance to my key checkout building, I deliberately chose to walk and enjoy the cool breeze of the morning, to be grateful to God for the start of a beautiful day.
I continued to choose that grateful open mindset for the rest of the day.
I started my sessions telling myself something like, “It’s OK. It will be a long day but I’ll be pretty much caught up by the end. I just need to focus on listening for God’s promptings and know He is working all things together for my good and the good of my clients.”
After my sessions, it became very obvious that I was going to be late going home if I finished all the paper work first. I just accepted that as OK and worked through each page and letting go of any frustration over not being able to leave when I wanted to. I reminded myself that as long as I got it done, the next day would be easier and I would be catching up.
On the way home, I reviewed the amazing opportunities God had given me to support and encourage some of my brothers in Christ that day even in such a crazy negative place like prison!
By the time I got home, I was tired but happy, relaxed, and grateful.
What we tell ourselves, the immediate choices we make as a result of what we tell ourselves and whether or not we deliberately focus on God being enough, all make seemingly small but very powerful differences in our stress level. What choices are you making today? Have you confronted each problem with the perspective power question – “Is this problem bigger than my God?”
Stress Less Quick Tool:
Identify 4 times each day you can take 2-5 min and review what you have been saying about the day’s challenges or tasks over the previous hour or so. Think through what you have said to others and what you have said in your own mind and write them down. Do this for at least 3 days, ideally for 1 week. See if you can catch yourself saying Stress Filled Phrases like: “I’m just too busy.”, “This is too much, I can’t keep up!”, “I just don’t have enough time.”, “I knew something was going to go wrong.”, or anything else that suggests you are not OK in some way.
At the end of the day, review your list of thoughts about your challenges and tasks. Beside each Stress Filled Phrase you used, write down a reasonable way to rethink that specific situation or task from a more God trusting perspective.
If you can’t seem to find words to rethink the situation, pray and ask God to show you a better more God trusting way to think about the situation. Also try using the perspective power question – “Is this problem bigger than my God?”. Consider ways you could still be safe, secure and peaceful at heart even in the middle of the busy day and use those ideas to come up with words to help you write out a way to rethink your Stress Filled Phrases.
As soon as you start noticing yourself using Stress Filled Phrases as they happen in real time, start practicing stopping yourself briefly and looking for a way to rethink that challenging situation or task in a stress less way at the moment. The better you get at rethinking your Stress Filled Phrases with more God Trusting Phrases the more you will live freed from stress freed for a life that matters!
“…be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2 KJV