It was back in March when my client, Kristen, asked me, “Karen, what are your silver linings?” She meant, “What are your silver linings related to COVID-19?”
I hadn’t heard that or thought of it that way, but I immediately paused and thought of a few. I am particularly grateful this challenging year for so many silver linings. Here are some of mine:
My health and the ability to take long walks.
My friends who are willing to walk with me and make me laugh and smile.
Technology that makes it easy for me to work.
Meditation and the ability to quiet my busy and oftentimes cluttered brain.
My colleagues who make me laugh and cut me a lot of slack.
My clients who give my life fulfillment, distraction during COVID-19, purpose and income.
The beautiful fall leaves.
My home office.
My wonderful family and their frequent texts and phone calls.
My hope is that during this holiday season, you will find ways to celebrate in safer and quieter ways. I appreciate you.
How do you contribute to your own stress?
We all have stress. Some stressors are mundane, some intermediate, and others mega. No one is immune.
We have mundane stressors like rushing to our virtual meeting only to find that the Wi-Fi is down again! We go out to run an errand and step in dog poo. We drop a glass and it shatters. And who hasn’t put a meeting on their calendar incorrectly and missed the appointment altogether?
We also have intermediate stressors like being passed over for a promotion, having our car wrecked, or realizing a colleague took credit for our work.
Sometimes when we have these stressors, we tell everyone in our office, on our commute, and on social media. As a result, we get a lot of attention, empathy, and mileage out of our stress by replaying it over and over. But, we are likely increasing our own blood pressure! It may feel good in the moment, but it keeps us stuck in the stress, rather than helping us move forward to the parts of our life that are working.
When I am experiencing mundane or intermediate stressors (or when there’s a gripey, sad, annoying, or otherwise negative thought to get off my chest), I employ a technique taught to me by my coach, and I share my stress intentionally with only three people. What’s more, I am very deliberate about who those three people will be. I select people who will empathize with me, support me, and then help me move on to the parts of my life that are positive.
I have found that this intentionality creates practice and discipline, and it helps me keep stress in its place.
While this is fantastic advice for mundane and intermediate stressors, it could actually be harmful advice for mega stressors.
Unfortunately we all have mega stressors as well. We learn that our job has been downsized, our ex-spouse has won custody rights, or a loved one is battling a serious illness. Other mega stressors might include PTSD, rape, or the death of someone close to you. No one is immune.
For mega stressors, this is shallow, and actually harmful advice. In those cases, see a counselor, clergy member, therapist, or coach. Talk to loved ones and realize that your big deal is truly a big deal. Get the help you need and honor yourself for knowing you need support.