Find Your Stress Management Mantra
Stress is a universal human experience that most of us face and deal with – one way or another – on a daily basis. Perhaps your world is changing at a rapid clip these days, as we navigate through the global pandemic together with endless unknowns. Balancing work and family life and attempting to find a little “you time” every now and again might seem more challenging (or even impossible, at times) than ever. While there’s no real quick fix there are definitely strategies that can help you change the way you interpret stressful situations in the moment, especially if you’re willing to commit to practice and patience along the way. I know it might sound corny, but adopting a mantra – a comforting statement or affirmation – can be a simple way of training your brain to reframe times of turbulence.
Step one is understanding the way you experience stress. It’s very individual and a degree of self awareness is essential for stress management. In my role as a trainer and public speaker I often share with my groups that when I’m feeling stressed one of the first signs is a change in my mood: I’m usually a pretty patient person and am generally able to see the glass as being half-full. When I start feeling irritable and pessimistic, and get frustrated and annoyed with situations I’d normally take in stride, that’s an indicator to me that my stress level is getting up there. My sleep is something that impacts my stress level very acutely as well. It’s sort of a chicken-and-egg situation: does being stressed make it hard for me to sleep or vice versa? At any rate, over time I’ve learned to notice when I’m feeling impatient and am sleeping poorly and take it as a prompt to reflect on my stress level. Sometimes I can pinpoint a specific source (or sources) of that stress and sometimes I can’t. If I’ve made all the changes I can (e.g. addressing a work project or deadline by re-jigging my schedule, delegating tasks to other team members, etc.) and still feel overwhelmed, a mantra can come in handy.
Step two is finding a mantra that speaks to you and is applicable for situations that commonly trigger your stress response. I’ll use myself as an example again: I generally find uncertainty to be uncomfortable at best. Do you have someone in your life who’s a real “fly by the seat of their pants” kind of person? Someone with a “que sera, sera” approach to life? That person is definitely not me! I’m very organized and prefer to have things mapped out whenever possible. Unfortunately that’s just not always possible – like you, I didn’t see this global pandemic coming. If I’m tossing and turning in bed at night it’s usually the “What Ifs” that are keeping me up. It’s not particularly useful to imagine the zillion and one different possible outcomes of a given scenario and fixating on these things tends to drive my stress level even higher. Rather than focusing on the negative “What Ifs” one of my stress management strategies is to remind myself that although uncertainty might feel uncomfortable it can bring about opportunity, too. Now that I’ve given you that context, I’ll share the mantra I find myself coming back to again and again these days:
“When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”
Want to give it a try? Click HERE to visit Always Well Within, a great resource to help get your creative juices flowing – it includes 33 sample mantras specifically for stress management.
Wishing each of you a relaxed week (with the help of your new mantra, of course)!
Elizabeth Eldridge is a Psychological Health & Safety Consultant based in southern New Brunswick, Canada. In addition to keynote speaking and corporate training on workplace mental health she is the owner/operator of Arpeggio Health Services, Atlantic Canada’s largest provider of public mental health trainings. Learn more at elizabetheldridge.com, summitcorporatewellness.com and arpeggiohealthservices.com.