So how has your week been? I really do hope it’s been smooth and enjoyable. Mine has been busy and stressful. There’s been a plethora of really big life stuff happening which includes losing one of our precious pups to cancer. I’m in the middle of making big choices for my career and my daughter received an Autism diagnosis. I am overwhelmed and exhausted, to say the least so it’s prompted me to make Your Wellbeing and Where to Start Part 3 about how we manage stressful situations. Perhaps we need to explore some new ways to address major events when they happen.
Life will happen regardless…
There is no surer fact, that life will carry on regardless of what else is happening. As much as we try to manage and organize our own stuff, other things outside of our control will knock on our door. It’s times like these that really show me how important getting the basics right is. In Your Wellbeing and Where to Start Part 1 I discussed sleep hygiene, diet, health, and exercise as an essential base to work from. Boy am I glad that at the beginning of the month, I decided to take my own advice. Without me implementing a good sleep routine there is no way I could have survived this week without crashing. Sure I still feel like I’ve been hit by a bus, but what if I’d been neglecting sleep when things weren’t so bad? I shudder to think. As a result of keeping the basics like rest, food and movement a priority I was able to make the right decisions for our doggie Bruce. My daughter’s diagnosis was a lot but I’m taking my time to consider our options calmly. There’s no doubt that chaos would prevail if I’d been neglecting my own self-care.
It goes without saying that calm considered thinking and decision making is a must when the big stuff happens. Easier said than done though – I know. Our bodies don’t know the difference between physical, emotional, or mental threats so our fight or flight instinct kicks in regardless. This means an increase in cortisol, our stress hormone, and an increase in heart and breathing rates to enable us to run from the threat. When our brain and our bodies become flooded with these stress triggers and we don’t being running, overwhelm and panic take hold. We can’t think straight, we may begin to cry, get angry and/or lash out.
In the middle of crisis, it can be hard to even recognize or attach to what’s happening for us. We can often be busy trying to regulate other family members first. Personally, I’m well known for being a trooper in the middle of a crisis, later though the crash comes. This can happen hours, days or even months after the fact. I may have even forgotten what the crash is about! Nonetheless, crashing is not the goal here. Balanced coping mechanisms are. But where do we start?
Don’t underestimate the power of the breath in the middle of chaos. Rapid breathing can lead to panic attacks (I may or may not have had a couple this week). Personally, I find the 5-5-5-5 method the most effective. Breathe in for a slow 5, hold for a slow 5, breathe out for a slow 5, hold for a slow 5, and repeat 10 times. Honestly, it’s saved me on several occasions. It regulates the nervous system and reduces stress symptoms almost immediately. I learned this method from the book Breath by James Nestor . I highly recommend reading this fountain of knowledge.
Don’t deny your feelings-
Again, I’m a trooper at denying my feelings and living in my head in a crisis. I completely shut down my self-awareness in order to help others when chaos ensues. This is a natural response for some people to stressful situations. It’s important to remember to find a second to check in and register your emotional feelings in relation to what’s happening at some point. It’s definitely something you need to do sooner rather than later. Not necessarily in the middle of what’s happening but definitely shortly after. I find even a quick five minutes in the bathroom, to sit and ask myself how I’m doing can work wonders. When I have more time I journal, talk to my therapist (angel from heaven), and rest. I struggle greatly with feeling anger. It’s one of the most shame-based of all the natural human emotions. But it is a very natural emotion and not a luxury (sorry 12 steppers) as many of us have heard in recovery. Suppressing and denying it makes me physically ill. I often cry when I’m angry, I also journal, dance it out, and again talk to my therapist. Of course, I’m definitely no Snow White and my anger can come spilling out like a tidal wave. I’m working on it.
The important thing here is not to reach for a drink, drug or compulsive behavior. We already know suppression with substances leads to a dark place. If you have a program use it. A therapist, call them. A sponsor, talk to them.
Staying practical –
This is a big one. So often when something big happens that’s not pleasant, we want to fix it immediately. The reality though is that it’s often not possible. Cramming our heads with information and endless options too soon during upset can further overwhelm. At the very least, give yourself a few days to digest what’s going on, maybe seek some advice, and keep it simple. Self-regulation is everything when the chips are down and finding the most effective way of doing that for you, without harming yourself is key. Acceptance really is the key to all of our problems and at the very least unlocking solutions. You are human, not superhuman and you need to learn compassion for yourself too.
I hope Your Wellbeing and Where to Start Part 3 has offered some solutions to whatever chaos we might be encountering today. We may need to use them for quite some time in this household.
Next week we are going to take a look at basic finances and some tips on breathing new life into our money, earning and spending.
Don’t forget, we love to hear your own experiences on here so please feel free to leave some comments. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice or if you just need a friend.
Have a great week!