You have trouble enough coping with the stresses of life so if you add to them an attempt to learn about stress and develop techniques for managing your stress you are going to add to your stresses! Nevertheless, it has to be done if you are ever going to get some control back into your life.
You need to limit the load you take on so here are some tips and advice about how you can make this a comfortable journey.
The best time to learn about dealing with stress is when you are NOT stressed – well, not too stressed. You need time for reflection, time to sit back, think about what is happening and even ponder events that may have occurred many years ago. Perhaps some of those memories will resurrect painful emotions. You will need to work through these situations – and that can be stressful – before you discover a measure of peace and healing.
The first thing therefore is to set aside time to follow this programme. It will probably need an average of 30 minutes daily for 3-4 weeks, and ‘top ups’ after that. You will need maybe 2 hours on some occasions but only 10 minutes on others. Some of this time is for reflection and doing some simple exercises. You can do these while on the loo, in the shower or when stuck in traffic. Mind boggling? Hold on – all will be revealed.
This is a tough ask I accept, with all the other pressures on your time and energies, but it will be worth it to get a handle on the causes of your stress and develop some skills in managing them.
So go at your own pace; even leave it for a while and then come back to it. Whatever you do, do not get stressed about it!
Bear in mind that learning to cope with stress is a journey – that needs to be repeated. Each ‘trip’ when you have a new stressful experience is a learning opportunity. You will have the opportunity to practice the techniques you have learned so see it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you develop new skills and attitudes. There will be side tracks and diversions that may be frustrating at the time but may prove in the long-term to be key learning experiences as you discover more about yourself and what makes you the person you are. Gradually you will incorporate helpful techniques into your resources storehouse so when a new incident occurs you will, almost without thinking, know how to handle it.
It may seem strange advice but try to keep an element of fun in this journey. On his way to work Oliver sometimes pulled up at a set of traffic lights beside a friend who travelled across the city to work – but it was only occasionally. He was puzzled by this as most people have the journey to work worked out to the minute and know where they need to be at any stage if they are to arrive on time. His friend laughed when asked about this. He had worked out that there were 27 route variations he could take and he amused himself every day deciding which route to take.
That is a good attitude to adopt when facing stressful situations.
While you are doing this course you may go through a phase when your stresses seem overwhelming. Stop! Do not try to persevere. Take time out to deal with your immediate situation. You may need to go back to ‘Getting Started.’ Only when it has settled down and you have had time to recover, should you start again looking at the big picture of your life and its stresses.
Initially, do not give too much attention to the deeper questions such as, ‘Why am I the person I am?’ or ‘Why did this situation develop?’ and ‘Why now?’ Just learn how to cope. Later on, when your stresses have settled down, work through this programme again and reflect on the sections you omitted. If it any time it all gets too much and you need to drop out of the programme completely please consider repeating it when your situation makes it possible.
One final tip. Coping with stress is a lonely occupation. No one else quite knows what you are going through, or so it seems, as the problem can fill your horizon. It is not just the problem out there, it is also the way you feel inside: fearful, stupid, resurrection of nightmares or painful memories from previous troubles. Sound familiar? They are not the sort of things it is easy to talk about, but, you know, we all go through it. My suggestion is that you have a companion on this journey. Choose someone you trust, someone who will not laugh at you or tell stories. Introduce them to the website. Swap stories. Share experiences. Discuss the bits you do not really understand. Cry together. Laugh together.
Not quite sure yet? Start by yourself then and do some of the exercises and reconsider this later on your journey.