October 06, 2014

Stress Busting Weapons

photo upload: x-ray delta one

So lately I've been dealing with a little more stress than I'm accustomed to. And I've been finding out some really interesting things.

Like:  My stress management skills TOTALLY SUCK a lot of the time.   Funny how easy it is to think you've got a handle on stress management when you are not actually experiencing any stress.

But on the bright side:

1.  Rick Hanson's Foundations of Well-Being Program  is starting tomorrow, Tuesday the 7th! So if you've been dithering and want to get in at the very beginning, now is a great time to sign up.

(Disclosure: I get a commission if you do it by clicking here).


2.  Some of the stuff I've learned over the years about handling stress is actually helping a lot.


3.  I have still more tools that could be helping if I would just f--cking USE THEM.  Many of these I was actually making progress with, but now that they'd be particularly useful: Hello?!?!

But we'll see, I'm hoping a whole new turbo-charged "phase two" of emotional self-regulation is about to kick in.

So here's what's on the table; I'll be curious what you guys lean on when you need to get through challenging times.

Stress Management Techniques that Are Kicking Ass:

1. Exercise

This is a fitness blog, so I know I'm preachin' to the choir here, right?  I'm swimming and trying to remember to stretch, and doing a very minimal amount of resistance training (but there are extenuating circumstances around equipment and injuries so I'm not stressing about how little I'm doing).

And there's walking.  Three cheers for walking!

2. Reaching Out

I'm talking more with family members than I have in years; I'm emailing and chatting with friends, my beloved wife and I are in texting, emailing, and calling, and I'm cherishing every blog comment from the lovely folks who come here. You guys really are great friends even if you manifest only in pixels on the interwebs.  I DO know you're out there and appreciate it so much!

3. Maintaining Comforting Routines

One of the first things I did was round up familiar foods, which, given my weird dietary proclivities involved trips to many different locations.

I've been cooking stuff like chicken soup and turkey meatloaf and spaghetti (and yes, I did find kelp noodles for myself) even though none of us are very hungry.

And it's been important to at least touch base with the blog, and schedule appointments with coaching clients, and see some of my favorite TV shows even though I had to cheat on my gal and watch some without her. Sorry honey!

4. Humor Even if its Kinda Dark and Weird

photo upload: x-ray delta one

Fortunately this tendency runs in the family. We can be irreverent assholes about serious matters and say things in the privacy of our own home we would NOT want to let escape out into the world. Even the family member most affected has not lost her sense of humor.

5. Using The Whole Woo-Woo Personal Growth Framework to View Things in a More Positive Light

When life gets unpredictable, we are sometimes called to move out of our comfort zones. Regular readers know that I adore my comfort zone, where it's all safe and warm and lovely, and, well, comfortable.

But it's kinda good to discover that crappy things can at least lead to new coping skills, right?

For example, I am an introverted person, a hater-of-difficult-phone-calls, a reluctant flyer, a skittish driver (the Lobster does all the hard stuff), a procrastinator and ditherer and avoider of all that is unpleasant. And yet here I am challenging myself on all fronts! And nothing disastrous is happening due to my lack of skills or confidence. It reduces my stress to feel like I am I doing things, whether they are ultimately helpful or not.

And I find I'm getting better at things that I think of myself as bad at.  It's even kind of empowering! Um, just like all those annoying self-improvement people say it can be.

Good thing I packed the firearms and a rowboat!

And the whole gratitude thing?  That makes a huge difference!  Even the shittiest events can often yield opportunities for gratitude. I'll refrain from a long list, but believe me, there is one.

6. Prioritizing The Important Stuff And Cutting Myself Major Slack on Everything Else

I won't belabor this, but just as an example, you should see the size of my poor gmail inbox.  I keep expecting it to explode and start spewing its contents out of all the ports on my computer.

Stress Management Techniques that Are Great in Theory That I Seem to be Blowing Off Entirely:

Getting Enough Sleep

Meditation or Practicing Mindfulness

Abstaining from Unproductive Thoughts

So, does anyone notice the major difference between items in the first list and the second list?

Yep, the first list are all things to do that require ACTIVITY, whether mental or physical. This I can handle.

The second list is full of things that require NOT DOING: resting, restraining, chilling, or otherwise exercising patience. This has seemed way too fucking hard. Almost like I can't help it. Right now, my mind and body want to race, not rest.

Really though, I do know I have a choice--and I'm not exercising it because I just don't feel like it.

I LOVE thinking, analyzing, having imaginary conversations in which I say all the right things, visualizing outcomes that are wonderful in all possible ways.

photo upload: x-ray delta one

But even the thoughts that I don't love are addictive as hell: getting angry, playing out worst-case scenarios, rehashing events that have already happened and are not gonna change unless I can figure out the whole time-travel thing.

So I'm hoping that today starts a new phase, of working a bit harder on the "inside" stuff and not just the "outside" stuff.  I think maybe I'm ready?  Stay tuned!

BTW, Thank You All So Much!!!


  1. Hang in there! I am humbled by the wisdom of gratitude in hard times. I am NOT good at that. Seriously, not good at that.
    But like you, activity during times of stress keeps me from blowing a fuse.
    Keep taking care of yourself! Sounds like your body might be telling you what it needs right now. I bet you'll slow into meditation, or something reflective, later.

  2. I think you can actually integrate the mindfulness/meditative stuff with walking, yes? I have never been very good at all the Oooooom stuff, either, but I think it can take a lot of forms. Sleep, though - you have to add that to the take-care-of-you so you can take-care-of-others list. I guess maybe the meditative practice might help there- help stop those worried thoughts from racing through the tired mind.

    On another note entirely, I sure wish my comfort routines picture would look like yours! Mine would be sort of full of chocolate chip cookies and ice cream and really light books (no, no, not those - more like PG Wodehouse, read for the fourth time).

    Hang in there - my thoughts are with you.

  3. All this stress and the way you're responding shows that you CAN do hard things...you may not like it, but you absolutely can step and do whatever needs to be done, comfort zone or not. You are a strong woman, my friend.

  4. Well you've got the whole human nature thing down pat. I could relate to each and every one of these points.. good and not so good. The one thing you do need to hang onto is that you will get through it. One foot in front of the other, Crabby. That.. I know you're good at.

    And keep that sense of humour which is so intrinsically a part of you.. it helps not only yourself but those around you who are also struggling.

  5. Sounds like you're handling the situation better than most, Crabby. You're aware of the Kicking Ass list and the Blowing Off list, and that puts you miles ahead. Just remember that dark and weird humor is totally okay, especially when it runs in the family. Hubs and I are fairly certain we'd be arrested for terminally offensive humor if anyone ever bothered to bug our house. :-P Keeping your sense of humor is good for the soul.

    Also, thanks for the comment today! I got the email alert for it, but Blogger won't actually display it yet. I'll reply as soon as I can see it!

  6. I hope that you keep hanging in there and don't let yourself get too stressed!! Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on ways to beat stress. I'm like you - the rest is the hardest part and that just leads to more stress. Thinking about you!!!

  7. How do I handle stress? Exercise (mostly walking), yoga (which is where most of my meditation occurs), reading old favorites (like DRG), weird and dark humor, oh, yes, indeed. All things I do anyway, but stress calls for more. I used to sleep more to cope with stress, too, but nowadays I can't get enough sleep for normal times (aargh!)
    Stress management techniques are a buffet, you know, not a seven course dinner. You don't have to do them ALL. Unless you want to stress over that as displacement. :)

    Take care of yourself,
    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  8. Stress is the part of life , No one can 100% stress free but you can smartly use these driving forces. If you are feeling irritated go for exercise and spend your aggregation on building body.

  9. Give in to the stress here and there. It's a great lesson in learning how to apologize effectively. Dark humour is a great way to cope although it's good to pick your audience for it lest you get more apology practice than you need.
    It sounds like you're doing reasonably well with this current nonsense. Taking a step away and seeing how well you are doing is a great way to cope.

  10. I always think I am handling stress (What stress?) really well right up until the explosion when I chew off my neighbors head and then wake up in the morning with a sore jaw from clenching my teeth and sore hands from gripping my covers hard like I was riding the world's scariest roller coaster all night! I find recognizing I have a problem is half the battle!! After that I just try to steer myself away from the crisis lane on the highway. Too bad I always meander back there eventually without my noticing.

  11. if exercise did not exist in my life, i would be dead from stress - seriously. when i wake up in the morning i almost cry thinking about everything i have to accomplish in a day........ and bam, the second i am done working out, i feel 2492398492837 better and feel like super woman!!!!!! i never don't work out - but in the off chance i might not... yeah, no one should come in contact with me! LOL!

    and i have no clue why i did not capitalize any of my i's in this comment, lol!

  12. Oh crap, I see my comment got eaten!
    I also recommend reading, it's great escapism when times are tough,

  13. I have always wanted to hear someone answer the inevitable interview question - "How do you handle stress?" with "Not very well".

    So I've begun answering it that way myself whenever it comes up. Because - for me - admitting this actually helps me deal BETTER with stress. huh?...

    Blowing up any expectations (mostly foisted off on us/me by The Rest of the World) seems to be really helpful to me just being my wonderful, little, conflicted, flawed self and just get on with things. I don't fret if I have to cry, have a little outburst, get flustered, forget something - whatever... It just comes with the rough territory at the time.

    That said - it's also not so healthy to get stuck in being 'dramatic'. So, I'm going to liberally steal the tips you list here, Crabby!

    Plus - I plan on remembering that whenever I get to witness someone else not being all stoic and "I'm fine! Really!", it gives me and everyone else a big, fat permission slip to be human. I just need to have a moment before I get virtuous in terms of better behaviors :)

    Anyhow- your blogging about all of this is really more helpful to all the rest of us than you know :).

    So - I'm going to liberally steal from the tips you list here, Crabby :) Brava!

  14. ahhhh I need these tips too.
    again :-)

    1. Hey Carla, I just came from your blog reading your posts. Yes, I can say that you really need these tips as well.

  15. Hang in there! Thinking of you and yours! xoxo

  16. Super stressed here too so great advice as always!!! I hope you are hanging in there Jan! I know you have some tough things going on - HUGE HUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. I used to get stressed but not anymore. I go through the same things but I now have learned to accept what I encounter and just work to make the situation better. My eating habits (plant-based diet), exercise, prayer, and mediation keep from from being too grounded in worldly things, which reduces and eradicates my stress.

  18. Yes, I think movement is what we do when we want to RUN, or FIX IT, and can't. It sounds like you're doing most of the right things for you. The rest can wait.



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