I had been wallowing in a mess of worry and procrastination recently on how to move forward on ensuring the best support for my daughter at school next academic year. As the parent of a child with special needs, this is nothing new. Reading is one of the ways that helps me take a step back and reflect before acting and my latest read by Jack Canfield, presented me with the motivation I needed to take action.
“Take 100% responsibility for your life” it said, and I thought ‘A B S O L U T E L Y!!’.
Now, I know this might come across as a bit harsh or inconsiderate to some individuals, but the point that Jack seeks to get across in his book was that while difficult things will happen, it is our response to the situation that will determine what follows. That we need to own whatever situation we find ourselves in for things to change. That we need to be present and that no-one can ever want your change more than you will. It was just the motivation I needed, so thanks Jack!!
”People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.” (George Bernard Shaw)
When we worry (and we all do), we feel stressed and if that propels us into action to improve our situation, then great. That is good stress – like being nervous before giving a great speech. However, when stress remains in a recurring state without any productive effort to address it (like avoiding a needed discussion about a relationship issues or money problems), then anxiety can set in. This can lead to negative stress which over time can make us vulnerable to panic attacks, poor sleep, aggression, being withdrawn or even facing mental distress. This interesting write-up by the Mayo Clinic about stress, the Cortisol hormone and its health implications is worth checking out.
So next time you worry is getting a bit out of hand, here are a few helpful pointers to consider:
You know that most of the time it is our perception of what worries us that is the biggest driver of anxiety or negative stress. It’s that constant focus on what ‘we think might happen’ as opposed to the reality if we just did something about it. So, until we can face up to what is worrying us, get the facts and figure out a plan of action, things are unlikely to get better.
Recently, I got a request for help from someone who really needed me. Someone, I knew that would never ask unless my assistance was really needed. It was so great to be of support instead of investing all my time in ‘navel gazing’. The point? – occasions like this remind us that what we might think is a big deal in our own lives is actually no big deal when you look around you.
If you are trying to make positive traction in your life, you have got to surround yourself with positive influences. Whether you are trying to manage a problem, get a new business idea started or handle a relationship issue, choose the voices that surround you carefully. I have a friend whom I have learnt to spend less time with because she has a regular choice of language and a world view that I find quite toxic. We have had several conversations about why she chooses to express herself the way she does, and I have tried to encourage a different perspective, to no avail. As a result, I now spend less time in her company these days in order to minimize her influence over my own thoughts and language.
How you spend your time especially when you need to address a pressing matter, is important too. Consistently allowing oneself to be distracted by ‘other things instead, is not going to help you. Most likely, whatever it is that needs tackling will still be there when the distraction is gone. I personally find getting an understanding of the issue or task, perhaps speaking with a trusted someone and having a ‘bit at a time’ action plan is a better approach. The ‘avoidance and hope’ strategy does not work.
Life is truly full of ups and downs. We need to master the art of coping as best we can in all these spaces. Yes all. Have that space to regularly reflect in order to help put things into perspective as they happen. Walking, reading, swimming, sleeping right, meditating or having a chat with someone you trust – informal or professional – are all great examples to help you cope and thrive.
Flora Omosevwerha is a wellness advocate who writes her articles through her Headway-Point blog.