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Sneaky side of stress

journal prompts mindset stress relief Jan 17, 2023

As I combed through online listings and dialed numbers, I kept thinking: “there had to be one––any venue––that could host our wedding this year. There had to be...”

My palms were sweaty, my heartbeat was picking up its pace, and I was beginning to feel like the things that we originally wanted for our venue didn’t really matter that much. What mattered was finding one and booking it before someone else took the last available date in 2023.

This was last week, and I was experiencing the sneaky side of stress.

…The kind of stress that sneaks up on you, disguised as something you care about (having our wedding reception this year), propelled by your underlying feelings (fear of letting people down) that then overrules your true desires (creating a memorable experience that aligns with our vision while enjoying the process). 

I know you’ve experienced this sneaky side of stress in some way, too…so let’s talk about what to do when it happens to you. 

This kind of stress takes a bit more effort to unravel and identify because we often end up doing something we originally didn’t want to do, and we don’t know how we got there. 

Sneaky Stress User Manual: 

You may want a notebook and pen for this.

Step 1: Recognize you’re stressed.

While this may sound obvious, we often don’t recognize the subtle signs until we’re in full-blown panic. And by then, it’s really hard to stop the spiral. 

The key? Get curious.

Think back to a time when you felt stressed out (if that time is now, use that). Get into the memory of that moment as if it were now, then answer these questions:

  • How is my body feeling right now? 
  • What thoughts are coming up for me? 
  • What emotions are coming up for me?

Take a few moments here. You’ll see how your body tells you that something was off––maybe that’s with an elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, spiraling thoughts, or frustration. 

And since you’re not new to having stressful experiences, you can now link your present experience to the awareness: “I am stressed.” 

Step 2: Discover the real reason

We’re often not stressed about what we think we’re stressed about, so if we only address the surface level issue, we often miss the opportunity for deeper behavioral change. 

On a fundamental level, We get stressed when something we value is at stake

To uncover what it is for you, ask: why do I feel stressed? 

In my example, it’s because my partner and I decided on a plan, shared it with a few folks, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. 

Translation: I felt my relationships were at stake. 

Step 3: Discover the truth

Now you’ve identified what feels at stake, you can go deeper. Ask yourself if that’s really or always true. 

Example: Really? Will people actually not want to stay in relationship with us because we couldn’t find a venue this year? 

Clearly the answer is no, but my perception was there. 

And that clarity can be enough to break the spell––to disrupt the stress spiral train. But there are other steps that are helpful to dig into here for more permanent change, like where and when did that perception develop? Why? What’s the underlying need here that’s not being met? 

(All things I can support you with uncovering :) )

But for now, take this as an opportunity to step away from the spiral and release the emotional intensity in a healthy way: breathwork, a walk, bilateral tapping, meditation, dance, exercise, a hug… 

Try this process out and let me know how it goes! 

And when you’re ready for more… like creating strategies to navigate stressful moments in the moment, meeting the core need that you uncovered (like perceiving my relationships were at stake in the example), more permanent behavioral shifts, and stress-relieving practices…I got you. 

The best way to figure out how I can support you is to sign up for a free self-care strategy session. I have a variety of private coaching containers as well as self-paced courses ready to support you. 

Hit reply or schedule a call here when you’re ready :) 

With love,