When stress hits the hot button there are coping mechanisms we all revert to that we learned as kids. You may no longer suck your thumb, you may simply binge eat till you drop. You may not hide under the covers, instead you zone out on the internet. You may not punch out your brother, instead you rant and rave to yourself and then grab a beer.
Here are ways to get past the patterns and habits that drive you to frustration and replace them with habits that keep you going in a healthy manner.
- Talk to your brain: stop the adrenal fight or flight response in its tracks by seeing stress as a challenge and opportunity, rather than stress as a death threat, so you can figure out new options.
- Cheer-lead out of anxiety: prevent confusion and mood swings by protecting your short term memory and reminding yourself that you have overcome many threats and, guess what, you are still here.
- Walk and breathe: pinch yourself from grabbing comfort foods, alcohol, nicotine or other mind altering drugs and get your dopamine from fresh air and nature. Outer nature can be your best ally in calming your inner nature.
- Change the fear of "what if" to "what is": stay in the present moment to solve problems and get some courage from watching any James Bond movie to see how he always lands on his feet.
- Slow down: engage your prefrontal cortex in an actual conversation. Yes, talk to yourself and image the part of your brain that is there to give you new, creative ideas for problem solving.
- Stop the blame game: don't waste time pointing fingers out there. The faster you can let go of blaming, judging and attacking, the faster you can find new solutions to your present issue.
- Be open to outcome: Accept surprises on the road to re-framing your difficulties and take some risks when you come to a fork in the road or a detour.
There are two bumpy side roads next to the smooth Safe Stress Highway. On one cluttered and pothole infested side leads to "Freakoutville" where all the drama kings and queens live, where the rebels shout and scream, where the bullies poke and push.
The other side road leads to "Zombieville" where the avoiders, deniers, martyrs, and procrastinators all live with the slow burn of defeatism and inability to make any type of change.
The Safe Stress Highway gets you where you want to go fast. Begin to practice the 7 behaviors listed above and also take the pattern aware quiz to see what you need to change to say on the road to success and be stress resilient.