Four out of the seven days last week, I was completely stressed out. That’s 57% of my week!
What’s your percentage?
My stress marathon started on Thursday when I planned our evening a little too tight. All day, I was feeling slightly anxious. Would I be able to have dinner ready when needed? Would my husband get home from work in time so we could eat together? Would we then have enough time to do Activity A before I had to leave for Activity B at 7pm? And if we weren’t able to do Activity A, would we be prepared for Activity Q on Saturday because Friday we had activities C through P???
Well, such a tight schedule inevitably leads to the domino effect of one thing going wrong and then everything else a disaster as well. As I left for my 7pm meeting, I was disappointed, frustrated, and upset. I tried to let it all go on my drive. I didn’t want to be frustrated or annoyed, but my plan had not gone how I wanted it to!
I remember when my daughter was doing biofeedback at Neurotherapy Northwest and the neurotherapist taught her (us) to say, “I’m flexible!” He encouraged her (us again!) to say it any time our plan was thwarted.
And Thursday night, as I was driving, I could see that I had not been flexible. Though I had had good intentions to create meaningful memories for my family that evening, it just didn’t go as I had wanted. But just realizing that I hadn’t been flexible did not release me from my frustration and disappointment.
Friday came, and I was still stressed about Activity Q on Saturday. This underlying anxiety trickled into every activity we did Friday after school and evening. I felt rigid, becoming very annoyed and irritated when simple things didn’t go my way.
Ultimately, my stress continued to build. I was feeling ALL the side effects of stress, as described in this four minute video: “How Chronic Stress Affects Your Brain.”
Let’s just say,
Things were not looking good for me.
By Saturday, I was snappy and burning love bridges with everyone in my home. We finally got out the door to Activity Q and you know what?
Activity Q was AMAZING! It was so much fun. It definitely didn’t turn out how I had hoped, but I saw the smiles on my girls’ faces as they served other people. I felt the love and joy in the air. I felt the Christmas spirit from others as we brought smiles to their faces too. It was an incredibly beautiful experience.
Until we got back in the car and everyone started fighting and arguing again. I returned to stressed-out-snappy Mama, and went back to my checklist of everything we needed to get done in order for my rigid plan for the rest of the weekend to work out.
We got a Christmas tree, went Christmas shopping, and even got my oldest daughter’s concert clothes for her strings concert on Monday. All the while, I felt this rush, rush, rush. There’s so much you have to do! You still have X, Y, and Z left to do today, and you won’t get it done unless you hurry faster! I really couldn’t enjoy any moment of our Christmas festivities because I kept thinking about the next one on my list that needed to get done. I was very unhappy.
PROBLEM: Sometimes there is so much we want to do for the holidays, but we just can’t enjoy the activities because we are stressed out.
Finally, within the first quiet moments of waking on Sunday morning, I pondered within myself, “What on earth is going on? Why am I so stressed out?”
I know that our emotions are messengers that bring us information of something we need to do. I also know that stress, for me, was just another word for the parent emotion of fear (for some people stressed can mean sadness or anger). So I jumped right into the fear questions to help me discover the message my fear was trying to tell me.
But I didn’t get anywhere! I just could not get to the root of my fear. I felt like I was going in circles. Was I stressed because I was afraid I wouldn’t get everything done? Wellllll, yes, and no. Was I stressed because I was afraid the girls wouldn’t have a good Christmas? Wellllll, yes, and no again. And on and on.
What was my emotion telling me?!?
Nothing was making sense. And since I got interrupted with little bodies waking and needing breakfast, I couldn’t return to my thoughts until later in the day during some quiet moments at church. As I sat there, I pondered again. “Why on earth was I so stressed out?”
And then it hit me!
My seven year old daughter flashed into my mind.
And I knew, I had picked up and been carrying her emotions.
SOLUTION: Sometimes we have picked up other people’s stress, but it feels like our own. We just need to recognize it and hand it right back! If it is ours, we need to work through those emotions following the steps below.
You see, my seven year old daughter had also been completely stressed out all weekend. Yelling and screaming and fighting, walking around complaining she’s bored one minute then whining that things aren’t right the next. Complaining that our house isn’t decorated, and then whining once it is, saying it’s not good enough and we need to do more.
It all made complete sense to me—no wonder I couldn’t get anywhere on my emotion work this morning! The root of those emotions were not my own! They felt like my own all week, but they really were my daughter’s. And since I couldn’t really help her in her emotions while I was in my own emotions (or so I had thought), then I hadn’t been a firm foundation for her to get through hers.
In the instant I realized this, I felt completely relieved! So much lighter and better. I gave the emotions back to her in this way. I love that when I return someone’s emotions, it doesn’t affect them at all–it just lifts my own load!
I had also just recently listened to a 3in30 podcast about soul fever titled “How to Help Your Kids Stay Sane This Holiday Season.” This podcast addressed four ways to help your kids stay calm and regulated rather than getting over-stimulated during the holidays. I knew that some of these tips were vital to helping my daughter in her stress and anxiety.
I promised myself that after church, I would talk with her about how she is feeling and help her work through it, as well as employ the useful tips from the podcast.
I felt much better about the situation. And the best part . . . my snappiness was gone. The grouchies disappeared. I wasn’t an enemy to my family anymore. And things just felt better.
Now, how are you feeling?
Is this holiday making you feel stressed?
Do you feel like you’re racing from place to place, making list after list after list, debating about neighborhood gifts, printing and mailing Christmas cards, decorating and baking and shopping and shopping and shopping, spending and spending and spending, and there’s still more to do?
Are you STRESSED OUT?
Stop for a moment and let’s figure out why, shall we?
First off, take some big breaths. Deep ones. Ones that go all the way to your very center. Fill those lungs up to the top. Give your body that breath of life.
Now, visualize going to your very heart center and ask, “Am I carrying anyone’s emotions right now?
Be still. Listen. Don’t assume or expect anything. Any assumptions or expectations will block answers. Just patiently wait.
Perhaps you will hear a “Yes.” Or maybe a “No.” Perhaps someone’s face will flash in your mind. Or a situation you were recently in will be brought to your attention. Maybe you will just have a subtle knowledge that “yes, you are,” or “no, you’re not.”
Whatever way it comes, let it come.
Now, if you find that you are carrying someone’s emotions, Congratulations! You can give them back by following this simple process here.
If you discovered that you’re not, and that the stress you are experiencing is your own, then Congratulations! You can now work through that stress to release it and feel better!
If the stress is your own:
- Explore your stress. Make a list of what is causing it. Are you worried about things? Are you frustrated about things? Are you disappointed about things? Explore it to find the parent emotion.
- Now ask yourself the questions to find out what that parent emotion is trying to tell you to do.
- Fear means there is a choice that needs to be made. Ask yourself questions such as: What are my options? What choice do I need to make? Learn more about fear on my Fear tag.
- Anger means boundaries have been violated. Ask yourself these questions: What boundaries have been violated? What needs to be restored? Learn more about anger on my Anger tag.
- Sadness means something needs to be let go because it just isn’t working for your good. Ask yourself: What needs to be let go of? Learn more about sadness on my Sadness tag.
Remember, your emotions are here to help you! They are not trying to sabotage you. They are here to teach you about yourself, to help you discover faulty beliefs and limiting ideas that you subconsciously live by. Discovering the message in your emotions helps you discover these limiting ideas and frees you from them.
I’m excited for you! Working through your emotions will immediately release those uncomfortable feelings you have and will help you feel better. You can have a great holiday season! It’s possible!
You can do it!
And if you know anyone who is feeling stressed as well, send this to them so they can feel better today! What a great Christmas gift to help others work through their emotions as well.