In part one of this series, I wrote that most of the stress we feel doesn’t come from real-life events. If you haven’t read that post, I encourage you to do so before continuing below. You can also watch a video that covers part one of this series and what I’m describing today (It’s at the bottom of this post.).
Once you better understand the primary source of your stress, it’s easier to come up with sustainable solutions and reduce your stress load. So in this post I’d like to share with you a simple three-step process you can use to bring more calmness into your life.
Three-step process for diminishing your stress
- Own what’s is actually true for you in the moment when a “stressful” event happens. Acknowledge to yourself in a calm yet honest way how you’re actually feeling about what’s going on. I wish my daughter would go to sleep. — I’m frustrated with my kids fighting over the toys. — I’m frustrated by not getting the response I want from my son right now. In other words, this step is about empathizing with yourself and your experience of reality.
- Breathe slowly and deeply. This simple step sends signals to your nervous system that you’re not under attack and thus your defensive mechanisms start to turn off and your higher-order thinking comes back on line. As the more creative, patient, flexible, and problem-solving parts of your brain re-engage, you are better able to calmly handle real-life incidents rather than merely pushing back against reality.
- Choose and use a mantra about accepting what is. Because our brain is wired to automatically go into story-telling mode (aka stress-inducing mode), we need to actively work to keep it from getting bogged down on that path. By giving ourselves new, empowering thoughts to focus on, we’re shifting our mind’s attention and helping ourselves stress less. Here are a few mantras to experiment with: This is what’s happening right now. — This is reality and I can accept it. — I’m enough. — This moment will pass. — I can see this moment from a neutral place.
The stress response is something that we can interrupt and reverse. It gets triggered without our conscious will, yet we can use our mindfulness to shift our automatic reactions. De-stressing ourselves isn’t likely to happen overnight, but it can over time if we’re ready and willing to work at it.
Here’s a video to take you through the “what is stress” discussion and the stress-diminishing process I’ve described above.
Thanks for reading. Your comments and questions are welcome.
Also in Stress-busting for families
- Parenting is stressful — but not for the reasons you’d guess
- Parent stress: Can’t we make it less stressful?