Let’s talk about that stress that no one wants to talk about. I said it before, I don’t claim to have schooling of a doctor or psychiatrist and I can’t provide a final end to stress but I am confident that I can help with some techniques for those who are ready to try something new. And after all, if what you are doing now isn’t working…Einstein would say….”do something else”. I am not immune to stress by no means at all, I have been a single mother for 7 and a half years, but I’ve managed to create a “stress less plan” for myself that stopped anxiety from getting me like it used to.
Because my coaching clients are confidential, I don’t get to tell you who told me that out of all of the teachers, doctors and helpers that they have spoken with, it was my tools and coaching that helped them overcome and address anxiety attacks and really manage stress better.
Now not all stress is bad stress. There are many types of stress. And the bad stress, unaddressed, can really damage your health, physically and mentally and it pours out of your being and into the lives of those around you. All sorts of chemicals and hormones increase your heart rate and can lead to panic attacks. I’ve had those too! Panic attacks can get so bad that people mistakenly think that they are having a heart attack and call 911.Stress is serious. (There are also ways to creatively funnel your stress into energy. Ask me for more info.)
The first time I had anxiety, I didn’t know what it was. It was just a terrible feeling inside my chest that made me feel like I was a afraid of something, but I couldn’t understand why. This is where I learned to question it. (Other signs of stress are: Palpitations or chest pain, Speeding up of the heart rate, Rapid or over-breathing, Headaches, Backaches, Trembling, Tingling in fingers or toes, Sweating, Dry mouth, Difficulty swallowing, Dizziness/lightheadedness/feeling faintish (this is usually from hyperventilating), Nausea, Abdominal, cramping, Hot flashes or chills.)
In my experience, it was important to learn where exactly this stress was coming from. I take some time to pin point the stress and understand that I cannot completely eliminate it but I can learn to negotiate with it, understand and manage it. An important step in addressing the stress is to label it, identify it for what it really is. For example, as a single mom and a woman active in the community, I used to get really stressed out over having too much to do and too much responsibility, it was too much for one person. The fact is, first of all, I made a choice to commit to boards and volunteer activities and because my children are the most important to me, I had to ‘woman-up’ because I didn’t have a reliable partner to help me with them. I needed the activities to keep my sanity but I had to ensure that my children were safe and had what they needed emotionally and physically. I had to accept the fact that I am a single parent and identify that it is not my fault. I had to accept that I could only do what I can and sometimes had to learn to say no. I identified the problem. I needed support with my children so that I could continue to seek activities that made me feel like a successful person. (I still volunteer in many areas and HIGHLY recommend it!!).
Here are some steps to what has worked for me and what I recommend to all my friends and coaching peeps. And I will say again, this might be new to you. So you may want to practice in a quiet spot alone. But once you master these tools, you will find that you can do them anywhere and everywhere, especially when you need it most.
1. Do not be scared to let others know that you are creating a “stress less plan”, you need support, and talking about it with others that you can trust, is the best support you can have. The most important part of these steps are that you practice this right now, because when you need the tools, if you are already in high stress, chances are you are not going to stop and find this website and look for this article. Addressing the stress and making a stress less plan is a choice that you have to make now, either you are going to deal with it or you are going to keep complaining about it. Emergency responders practice, practice, practice way before the crisis hits, and when the time comes, they know what to do.
2. In a crisis state of stress, you have to bring yourself into the moment. High waves of stress are usually brought on because of something that makes us worry or fret about, things that have happened in the past, how it made us feel or how it ‘might’ have made somebody else feel, and what people are thinking or what could possibly happen and how something else might possibly affect us, and that pours out to more possibilities of ‘mights’ and “what-if’s and creates strong waves of stress. Whether we like to hear it or not, we are in situations because of decisions that we make, or have (or feel like we have) a responsibility that looks way too big for us, and instead of being in the moment, we look at the whole big giant picture, so in the future or in the past and we think “Wow, this is too big, I can’t do it”. What you need to do is Bring yourself back to the moment by taking a deep breath in and counting up to 5 while you inhale, and concentrate on the air that is filling your body. Hold your breath as you count to 5. Release all of your breath as you count to 5, pushing the air out, and the stress out. Picture the “stress” being forced out of your body. (I suggest you call for help if the attack is too much for you to handle on your own).
3. Call or text a friend (or a Coach). This is a big world with lots of people who love you and want to be there to support you. But make sure you call the right person, someone aware of your stress and someone who knows you and can help lead you back to focus. This means you may have to talk to them before stress reaches its peak, and if that is not possible or it’s too late, that’s ok, call them anyway, you should never be alone when stress is at its highest.
What might you say to someone whom you are seeking help? How about something like this: In case you didn’t know, I’ve been experiencing some extreme stress and I am setting up a plan to have someone to connect with and help me remember that I’m going to be ok. Do you think you could help? What I need you to do is to remind me to take deep breaths and be there to listen, remind me I am going to be ok. Stress is serious. Don’t forget to talk about it when you are calm again.
Here are some tips on how to handle being that friend that is getting the call when someone is in high stress: Make sure to listen, don’t argue or dismiss what they are saying. Try to be as empathetic as possible. Let them know that you are there for them and that they are not alone. Say their name and tell them that they are going to be ok, and to take some slow deep breaths. Be patient. Call for help if you feel that it is too serious for you.
4. Homework! We don’t talk about these things as much as we should as a community. We need to know what triggers our stress! Is it a topic? Caffeine? Smoking? Procrastinating? Or an event? If you are prone to stress, make a plan on what to do as soon as you identify the trigger. Make a list of things to do, this exercise releases stress by simply removing some loud thoughts of what you have to remember to do (or think you should have done) and allow you to acknowledge them on paper, out in the world. Writing out plans and goals also gives you power to manage them and make them happen the way the universe wants them to.
As these suggestions are preliminary, elementary solutions but they work. If you have high level stress and my suggestions are not useful, I definitely suggest you see a doctor, it is wise to seek help, and your health depends on it. I am very impressed by people who make that effort to invest in themselves and their health because we make the world better by our actions. In some cases a doctor may not be the right fit, I am available as a Coach, free consultation, to discuss if a coaching plan together is the right fit for the solution you are looking for.
I have been reminded that I need to be clear on what is controllable and uncontrollable. So it’s ok to “surrender” to some things in life, if they are safe and uncontrollable, but other things, like attitude, are controllable. Please take care!
Find more information at jessicadumas.com, I am available for this topic and more for individual coaching clients, couples coaching, and I’m working on my marriage packages where I will coaching prior to weddings, as a commissioner I will marry you and then set some coaching goals for couples who are entering their first year of marriage, I do small group workshops and I have so many ideas for so much more.
Certified Life Coach