Sunday, 14 October 2012

Getting lost: navigating our stress-induced alter egos

Last weekend, I travelled to Boston with my wonderful family... in a car. Now, if you've never been to Boston you're probably thinking "Wow, lucky girl ... that sounds like it was full of rainbows and candycanes!" But, if you have ever been anywhere near Boston or listened to someone's colour commentary about their experience, you're probably thinking "Is Kath blogging from the grave? Is Long Island Medium writing this post for Kath?".

Well, friends ... don't worry, it's actually me ... not that wild Medium who's big blonde hair is definitely full of secrets.

BUT, it was a close call once we started getting lost.

So, after the epic screaming/crying/arguing match that my darling family had for approximately 45 straight minutes in our car in the middle of Boston, I got to thinking about why I turn into the female version of angry George Costanza when things get stressful. And, moreover, why we all experience a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde roller coaster of emotions in these situations.

Well, we all know that stress makes us do very weird things and act in ways that are often opposite to our regular selves. In order to combat this, I've thought up some ways to avoid turning into our bizzarro selves when faced with stress ...

1. Find your hot button (get your minds OUT OF THE know what I mean). Take a step back from the situation and try to identify exactly what triggered your unfamiliar emotion. For example, the woman's voice (I call her B*#&HFACE) on the GPS machine is officially my kryptonite.

2. Try to decrease the impact of the aforementioned trigger. If it is a certain person that's aggravating you, gently try to decrease the impact on your emotions ... Luckily, when we were in Boston, I was able to mute the god damn GPS before I lit it on fire and threw it out the window.

3. It sounds cliche, but BREATHE. Just breathe. It is amazing how closely related our emotions are to our physiological state. By simply paying attention to our breathing, our heart rate slows and, as a result, we become more relaxed. Try to sit more comfortably, relax your shoulders, listen to your breathing.

4. Last, but certainly not least, check your attitude! As the old saying goes, "We cannot direct the wind, but we can always adjust our sails". Take a moment ... take stock of your perspective and try to find a different way to look at things. If I had just sat back and appreciated the fact that I was spending time with three of the most important people in my life, we would have shared a lot more laughs and a lot less "OH WOULD YOU JUST SHUT UP?"s.

So, as you go through the ridiculous ups and downs that life throws your way, remember your hot buttons (even the dirty ones - if your mind is still in the gutter), be action-oriented, take control of your physiological state and, most importantly, lose the tude and find a silver lining.
"If you don't like something, change it; If you can't change it, change the way you think about it." - Mary Engelbreit

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