Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stress and Gratitude

I returned to work yesterday after a lovely long (for me) vacation. As I got ready for work, headed out the door and drove closer and closer to work I could feel the tension build in my shoulders, my neck, my back. I arrived at work and began looking through the stacks of work, notes and emails and tried to prioritize what needed to be done in what order and I could feel my stress level rise further and further. By the end of the day, when I finally left the building two hours after quit time I was a bundle of nerves, tight muscles and a tension headache that wrapped around my head and into my TMJ.

It doesn't much sound like it when you read the above but I should probably say that as a general rule- I genuinely LIKE my job. I like the routine, I like the flow of the work and I like the whole process. Unfortunately I am in a situation where I can't necessarily trust that when I am out things will continue on as they need to which leads to the stress that I experienced yesterday. It is not that I am the only person who can do my job, it is that I am very particular about how my department runs and in what order we approach the process and my priorities are not the same as some of my colleagues and therefore some of the things I find MOST important fall through the cracks.

When I arrived home last night and tried to relax, it just wasn't happening. I took Miss Harley out for her walk and as is my practice I reviewed my day and looked for gratitude moments; it was like running into a wall. I could not focus my mind and get to that place I need to be in order to really feel the gratitude. Even as I did my daily ablutions and headed to bed, I could not get my mind settled enough to peacefully sleep. I woke this morning even more tired than I was when I went to bed last night, probably due to tossing and turning and not being able to shut off my mind and relax my body. This not only kicked in my fatigue but also exacerbated my fibromyalgia.

The Mayo Clinic tells us that without managing our stress, our body is always on red alert. I am definitely feeling that this morning. They also tell us (as anyone with a chronic illness can attest) that stress can lead to even more health issues. What they didn't mention was that if we let it grow without finding a way to stopping it, stress can take you back a few steps on the road to peace and gratitude and block you from opening your heart and mind in order to get back on track.

I have spent the morning combing the web for specific techniques to lower the stress I am feeling as well as quotes to shift my mind back to the blessings in my life. I can tell that I am on the right path because I have found things that make me feel both hopeful that they will work and grateful that I have found them.

These are the techniques that I will be putting into practice this morning when I get in:

Effective time management skills can help you identify goals, set priorities and minimize stress in your life. Use these tips to improve your time management skills and lower your stress level.

■Create realistic expectations and deadlines for yourself, and set regular progress reviews.
■Throw away unimportant papers on your desk.
■Prepare a master list of tasks. Throughout the day, scan your master list and work on tasks in priority order.
■Use a planner. Store addresses and telephone numbers there. Copy tasks from your master list onto the page for the day on which you expect to do them. Evaluate and prioritize daily.
■For especially important or difficult projects, reserve an interruption-free block of time behind closed doors.

I found this quote from Melodie Beattie that just went "click" when I read it:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
— Melodie Beattie

If I can reflect on this quote through out the day- I know I will be okay. Specifically the part about turning chaos into order and problems into gifts. If I can focus on that- rather than letting the irritation and impatience I am feeling, I can look at the current situation as an opportunity to educate and share my vision. Just typing this and really reflecting on it has allowed some of the tension to leave my shoulders. That is another sign that I am heading back on track. For that- I can be very grateful.


nahrungserganzung said...

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Kelly said...

Very good ideas. Can't wait to tweet your list of strategies.

It's more simplistic, but my best stress relieving technique is old fashioned deep breathing (make the stomach go out as the diaphragm goes down). I'm always amazed how fast it brings relief...