I just finished an intensely scheduled period in my calendar. I was very busy! I could tell that I was experiencing physiological stress – my breathing, heart rate, sleep, thoughts were starting to be affected. I was definitely feeling overwhelmed!
Then it occurred to me, “We just published a DVD on ‘Wellness Approach to Stress.’ I know what to do here.” Sometimes, I just need a reminder….
In the DVD, Peter considers Stress from the perspective of his “Four Essentials for Life.” I decided to pick one thing from each of the four essentials that I could do to help myself during this packed-schedule-time.
Food: I could already tell that I was being tempted to shortcut on my normal diet because I was so busy. I was being tempted to order out. Especially since I knew that we would be eating out for two meals during the most busy days and, from past experience, we know that our immune systems suffer after that, I decided absolutely not to eat out before then – thereby, hopefully, avoiding a major immune system crash in the whole family. This meant that I had to take time to plan ahead for meals for the family or they had to get used to the idea of eating sandwiches. We both compromised during that week.
Water: Again, I could tell that I wasn’t drinking enough water just because hours of activity would go by without me paying attention. So, I made a rule that every time I passed the kitchen, I would drink at least some water – and I would take a water bottle with me in the car. (I drink a lot of water during red lights.)
Air: For this Essential for Life, I had two strategies. 1) If I felt overwhelmed, I would remind myself to take a deep breath. It is amazing how quickly that changes my internal perception of the situation – both thoughts and feelings. 2) When I did sit down (I had the advantage of having to sit down to nurse a baby frequently during the day.), I would consciously take a series of deep breaths, focusing on exhaling as much old, stale, stressed air out as possible and then inhaling as much clean, fresh, vital air in as possible. I would do at least 5 breaths. Again, it amazes me how fast this changes my physiology and outlook!
Love: I realized that I do not have time for the luxury of stress. Stress eats up a lot of time and energy! Whenever I found myself ruminating on how stressed I was, or something that didn’t work out right, or an obstacle or interruption, I would intentionally shift my thoughts. How? Say a prayer. Say an affirmation. Express gratitude or appreciation. Breathe.
Thankfully, we made it through that intensely scheduled time – without me getting sick (actually none in the family got sick!) and were able to recuperate with an unscheduled weekend.
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