How often do you hear the phrase ‘don’t sweat the small stuff”? Most heard at a point where you are doing exactly that. And, why? Because all perspective has simply gone flying out the window. You’re juggling too much. You’re in overwhelm. You don’t know which bit to jump on and tackle next.
And when some helpful soul tells you not to sweat it, all you want to do is whack them. If you’re sweating the small stuff, it’s a really good indicator that you’re stressed.
Many a time I have found myself in such a place. It kind of comes with the territory of having an adrenaline charged body and being a bit of a work addict. These days, my barometer for stress and it’s impact on my body has become highly sensitised due to my now known adrenaline-related health condition. But, before I got sick, it just wasn’t possible for me to see or really feel all these impacts. I had either mentally blocked or normalised them and my body just coped somehow. Now I see and feel them daily.
So because I’ve become so in tune with how my own body responds, I thought I would give you a window into my observations about the times when I can handle the small stuff and the times when I can’t.
I encourage you to think about yourself when you read them and see if they resonate for you?
Frazzled and intolerant of the small stuff for me happens when my brain is over occupied. I can’t think. I’m rushing. I’m multi-tasking. I’m juggling. There’s also perhaps too much noise or commotion. I’m tired. This is stress as most people know it. But I can also be buzzing and over excited at the same time. These situations are hard to come down from. I shake. I buzz. I over alert. I get chest pain. I talk fast. I can look like the energiser bunny. But I can’t sleep and I get headaches. My body overall feels out of control.
When I am taking things more in my stride, there is no accompanying buzz and there is no maniacal task jumping. I’m relaxed. I’m calm. I’m well rested/slept. Noise levels around me are low. I have time to think. I’m rational. I can breathe properly. I talk in better sentences! I look rather chill. Feels like a much better place to be doesn’t it?
We jump on the rush. I am busy. Busy is good. Busy gets me a promotion. Oh I’ve been so busy today, I’m busy all the time, look at me (busy, busy, busy). Because busy is adrenaline and adrenaline is addictive. And busy comes at the expense of our health. The bit we take for granted. Until it’s impacted.
There are some obvious on reflection choices to ensure your health isn’t compromised because of all this busyness, work and adrenaline.
They are fairly obvious but the question is, how much do you actively DO them?
Why are you rushing? You do not have to be superman or superwoman to prove anything to anyone. Be comfortable in your own skin with who you are and what you bring to the table. Don’t take on new stuff just because someone has asked you. Accord yourself the respect you would hopefully be mindful of for others. Say no for yourself. Slow the pace down. Pause the race. Give yourself more space .Don’t be ashamed to say ‘no, not today’ for ‘perhaps tomorrow’ instead. Sleep on that decision. It’ll be a better one the next day. And if you’re a bit disorganised, perhaps spend a bit more time getting prepared.
Sleep the hours you need. Don’t sacrifice that time. Turn your gadgets off and wind down for bed. Power nap in the day if you can. A 20 min ‘shut eye’ is so calming and revitalising. If you can’t take a nap, then find a quiet spot. Don’t continue to rev your engine by auditory means. Find yourself a quiet room. Extract yourself. Do it often.
Yeah right Sherlock I do that all the time! I’m talking about mindful breathing or meditation. Grounding breaths through your belly. Not the upper chest kind. The kind you’re inevitably doing right now. Use your lungs and stomach fully at every possible opportunity. In meetings. At your desk. In the car. On the train. Deep, slow breathing is instantly so calming. Switch yourself off from that stressful issue and focus on your breath. Create space from it. Focus on the here and now. Steady the ship.
Who cares about some bunkum that learning to deal with stressful situations is personal development. Who made that up? Just avoid them full stop. You know those people who shrink away from controversy — be one of them! Don’t involve yourself. Step away from it. Flick it off. Focus on what you can control.
Systemically, creating space is the most effective strategy I’ve found to protect myself. Personally, I can’t meditate through busy. I’ve tried but it’s like ‘bandaiding’ busy. The effects really don’t last long enough.
Space your commitments. Pace yourself. Put off what doesn’t need doing today. Put spacers in between everything. Space your meetings. Declutter your desk. Allow yourself lots of downtime. Extract yourself. Quieten. Make downtime a normal part of your routine.
Call it ‘think time’ if it helps. And if you can’t find space in your day, then perhaps it’s time you found yourself a less ridiculous job?
You owe it to your health to stop the whir in your brain and the detrimental impact on your nervous and cardiovascular systems.
By slowing your pace, your reactions will slow and that small stuff (that used to get under your skin) won’t matter one tiny bit.
Originally published at medium.com