One Step to Breaking Hazardous Stress Habits
Maybe you have had something like this happen to you.
I had just come back 3 days earlier from nearly a week on the California coast for a vacation training. The training was fun and the schedule left several hours each day for enjoying the beautiful campus and watching the water. My wife and I spent much of the time exploring the majestic coastline and soaking up the sound of crashing waves and the cool caress of the wind. We were happy, relaxed, and peaceful but as I was making my 10 min ride to work Monday morning I felt that relaxed peacefulness start to slip away and be replaced by a familiar feeling, stress.
I began thinking about all I needed to do and the limited time I had to get it done and started to feel rushed, anxious and in a hurry before I even reached the entrance. What struck me was the great contrast between my earlier relaxed, inspired sense of possibility and the dark tension that seemed to be creeping over me….but what was really weird was that the anxious tension felt so familiar, almost like coming home. That is when I was reminded of a lesson I had learned years ago. We think, feel, and live in habits.
If you notice a repeated situation where you usually feel stressed, you probably have a stress habit too. One of the easiest ways to notice a stress habit is catching yourself saying something like:
Here we go again… Let the craziness begin!
I just knew he was going to be there… I already know how this is going to go – badly!
How am I doing?….It’s Monday…how do you think?
Another 5 page form to fill out? I’ll never get caught up!
You might notice your stress habit starting to kick in on your way to work, or maybe on your way home (especially if you have a pile of laundry and 3 hungry kids waiting). Often stress habits trigger tightness, tension and sometimes pain in different parts of your body like your neck, shoulders, stomach, etc.
At this point you might be saying…OK OK I do see a pattern to my stress but how is recognizing it going fix it??? Great question!
Recognizing the pattern or habit of your stress can be helpful because it can let you know when to do something to interrupt your habit – a pattern interrupt. Practicing pattern interrupts regularly can be a big step toward breaking your stress habit.
Here are three to try:
Pray – (not- “God please make her sick so I just don’t have to deal with her again today”) that God give you peace and joy, that He show you how He is working in your life right now.
Sing, out loud is better but even in your head is OK (and a more coworker friendly option if you have a voice like mine 🙂 ) Sing hymns or other praise songs.
Use Easy Tap For Anxiety Relief for 5-10 min during your drive to work, in the restroom during a break, or in your office (if you just don’t care people think you are crazy!). Click here for a short video demonstrating the method. (You might remember the method from a special guide you got when you first signed up with The Stress Relief Coach) The more you use it the better it works!
When to use your pattern interrupt is very important. Use it as quickly as possible when you first notice your stress habit starting up again. Even better, start the pattern interrupt just before your stress habit starts taking effect – you probably can predict it pretty accurately once you start recognizing the habit.
While recognizing your stress habits and developing a new pattern interrupt habit can make a big difference in your stress, keep checking back for options to supercharge your stress relief even more completely and permanently.
May you live freed from stress freed for a life that matters, eternally!