It happens to the best of us… we have days when we feel the need to clear our emotional drain. We give everything we have, and it never seems to be quite enough. If you have ever felt slighted by a spouse, under appreciated by your kids, stressed about finances, or have heard disappointing news from a friend, I’m sure you can relate. And now, with our over-tasked schedules, being stressed out is sadly becoming a new norm.
Stress is a fact of life, even in the summer time when school’s out and our grade books are closed. The key is not to let the busyness of our stressed lives permeate so deep that it steals your joy. Ignoring the warning signs when we feel the stress snowball gaining speed coming down the hill will only lead to increased anxiety and exhaustion, and decreased peace of mind. Yes, stress happens, but becoming overwhelmed doesn’t have to.
When you feel like your stress snowball is turning into an avalanche, try this quick technique using the acronym FLASH. It will help you avoid stress taking control of your emotions to the point where you feel overwhelmed.
Give yourself permission to feel your stress, and avoid bottling up your feelings. Have a good cry, meditate, pray, journal, listen to music, do some intense cardio, or even scream in the shower. Feel it, so you can release it. If you continue to do things that you don’t enjoy doing, consider giving them up to avoid over-scheduling yourself in the first place.
Before the avalanche gets too big, know your triggers and listen to your body. Headaches, fatigue, poor concentration, and anxiety are all signs you are reaching a tipping point. Keeping a journal sometimes helps track symptoms and triggers. Listen to your body telling you to slow it down.
Know that there are things in life that you can control, and other things that you just can’t. Learn to let go to what you cannot control, or at least learn to control your reaction to it. This one takes years of practice!
Being well rested enables you to be more patient and less agitated. Your brain function and physical health depends on sleep to replenish and get you ready for a new day, kind of like purging negative rollover minutes. So make sure you are getting enough sleep, along with proper hydration and nutrition, especially when you’re stressed.
Even if you feel like you have nothing left, you might be surprised at how getting outside of your own problems and helping to make someone else’s day a little brighter might make you feel. Give a compliment, send a nice email, say thanks, give someone a hug…remember, a smile is contagious! Of course, if you feel you are still not able to shake the blues effectively, don’t be ashamed to ask for help yourself – from a friend, a colleague, or even a professional.
Because avalanches are typically hard to control (more like impossible), we need to stop the snowball before it gains a life of its own. Using my “FLASH” system works for me, and I hope it works for you, too!
What helps you avoid an emotional avalanche?
Leave a comment on what works for you when you feel the stress coming on!
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13