How to Deal With Stress
Its 6pm on a Sunday evening. I’m standing in a small London flat surrounded by bags and cardboard boxes chaotically stacked into any available space.
I’ve 2 girlfriends to help me unpack…
But there’s a problem…On the other side of town are the bookcases and cupboards that these boxes are to be unpacked into …
I have to be out of the other property by the next day and my 2 removal guys have just handed in their notice and driven off, following a dispute with their boss.
Despite 20+ calls to the removal company’s office I can’t get hold of anyone. I’m left to work out how to get my things moved within 24 hours and it’s a Sunday evening.
But “Hey!” I tell myself “I’m a production manager right? Logistics and troubleshooting are my ‘thing’.”
And then I notice something… I’m not breathing…it’s barely noticeable …I notice the tightness in my stomach…I notice the irritability rising in my chest…the tightness in my body…OMG – I’m noticing things!? Whoa!
I’m noticing my body’s reactions to stress – reactions it’s always had in such moments and I’ve had a lot of stressful moments! Who hasn’t?
Has the past few months of slowing down and being more mindful, actually woken me up to being more aware of how I feel? How I react?
How I’d Tried to Avoid Stress
The ‘move’ had started off so well. I’d spent a month slowly packing as I didn’t want to undo the healing that I’ve gone through these past months. I’d booked a reputable removal company and even sent them a route through London as most of the roads were closed due to the Prudential bike race. My new flat was empty, clean and waiting. A couple of best friends had offered to help unpack essentials for me.
I’d organised everything to make everything as stress free as possible. But life likes to challenge us…
Sunday morning and the van arrives…the wrong size…far too small…with 2 guys who hardly speak English, one the size of a brick shit house with salty dried sweat stains across his chest, fag in his mouth, wheezing. Really!?
I can’t get hold of anyone in the removal company’s office to see what can be done to sort the van. Two hours later, after the van’s packed, I finally get hold of a guy who confirms it’s going to be two trips across town…Oh great?! But, if that’s what has to be done…
How to Deal With Stress
Fast forward to Sunday evening and I’m here in my new flat with no van and no communication from the company….with half my possessions in a property I need to vacate. I feel stressed!!!
This is when I notice my reactions…
Firstly, I blame myself for the situation…why? No idea but maybe I did something wrong? No! Bullshit! This was out of my control – Ah ha! Control!! I’m trying to control everything! Ha! As if we can!?
So…I sit down and in between leaving brisk messages requesting a call back, on the company’s answer phone, I breathe…and breathe again…there are tears rising in the background but I feel a strange feeling of calm…and clarity – what’s preventing me from taking action? OK – so I don’t want this stress but it has to be solved, and I don’t want to but I’ll just have to throw money at the situation to solve it. Then I remember another man and a van I’d contacted. I call him and amazingly, he’s free the next day – so is booked…
Five minutes later the removal company call. A very harassed and exhausted guy offers me a van at 9pm – no one is available the next day. I can tell by his defeated voice he knows this is unacceptable and is waiting for a tirade of abuse. However, I keep calm, breathe and find a space to respond from.
I find myself being remarkable assertive, explaining how his lack of communication all day has been a major stressor and obstacle and even demand a refund. I do this without the usual level of tightness and sick in the stomach nervous feeling I get when dealing with uncomfortable situations. I even find myself listening calmly and even offering him empathy as he explains the lack of staff and his own stressful situation.
Why I’m telling you how I dealt with stress
Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t enjoy the exchange but I felt empowered and justified – I felt grounded and behind my words. I wasn’t just ‘reacting’ to the situation, I was responding.
I’m sharing this experience as I feel it’s a true example of how there is a choice to how you react to stressful situations and how you can manage them . By giving yourself a moment to breathe and find some space…to connect to how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.
The next time you’re faced with how to deal with stress, I hope this blog has inspired you to try and give yourself the space to respond and not react.
In this full on city we live in, there are going to be a lot of opportunities 🙂
Have you reacted or responded to a stressful situation lately? Let me know below!