Arghhhh! Oh no! Have you ever had to take your own advice? It happened to me after working on several articles with advice about handling stress and stress eating.
I was sitting at Sky Harbor airport waiting to board my 3½ hour flight to Chicago. For once, I’ left early enough and had plenty of time. I felt relaxed and ready to get some work done. I’d even spent a couple of hours before going to bed late the night before wrapping up a few projects and loading the rest on a thumb drive to finish during my uninterrupted travel time.
Ahhhh. Life is good.
I thought about all the stressed-out passengers complaining about the hassles of travel as they tried to check overweight bags and get a 16 ounce bottle of mouthwash through security in their carry on (really). I was amused by my silent observation that apparently they hadn’t been on a plane since 2000.
On the other hand, I felt grateful for the opportunity to safely cross the country in just a few hours, even if I had to do the sock-hop at security. As a professional speaker, I traveled quite a bit, so not only had I learned to make the best of it, I looked forward to this catch-up time. Like I explained in this post, stress is in the mind of the beholder!
I started groping around in my computer bag looking for the thumb drive with my file called “Road Work.” As my fingers dove into all the nooks and crannies, my heart and mind began to race. It gradually dawned on me that I would not find it since I’d left it plugged into my desktop in my home office.
From Ahhhh to Arghhhh in 3 seconds flat!
The irony was not lost on me that one of the documents back at my office was the blog post, Stress Eating: Stress Management 101, just waiting for a few finishing touches.
Arghhhh! Why did I let myself get distracted? What if I had check one last time to make sure I had everything? How was I going to make up for the 7 lost hours of productive airplane time? How could I have been so careless?
Oh yeah. Stress management 101. Time to practice what I preach and use the techniques that I shared with you for dealing with stress. (But will now have to wait until I get back…arghhhh!).
My advice about handling stress
Here are the five steps I advise (and took!) to handle stress.
Step 1: Focus
Stop. Breathe. Get present.
Step 2: Explore
What is happening right now, in this present moment?
What am I thinking? I paid attention on purpose to the dialog in my head – see above. What am I feeling? Anger. Frustration. Stupidity. Powerlessness.
What am I doing? Whipping myself into a frenzy with all the whys and what ifs.
Is it helping? Not a bit.
Is there anything I can do about this right now? Not much.
Step 3: Accept/Allow:
I can choose to either resist this or allow this. Resisting this is futile.
I choose to allow myself to feel frustrated but will stop beating myself up.
I choose to be compassionate toward myself instead: I had a lot to do; traveling can be stressful but at least I made it to my flight on time.
Step 4: Strategize
- Maybe I could have my assistant email me a couple of the documents to look at on my phone.
I could write a new article.
I could follow a personal pre-flight check list in the future.
And oh! I had remembered to bring a book I’d been wanting to read but hadn’t had time for: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown. (No. this irony wasn’t lost on me either.)
Step 5: Take Action
I’ll write an article and call it Taking My Own Advice.
Then I’m going to do a little reading and see if I can find out what those gifts are…
P.S. After I wrote the post above on my flight, I got on the train into Chicago. I noticed a man sitting glumly across the aisle. He was holding a FedEx envelope, and forgive me, but I noticed that the page in the window read, “If you take action now, you may still be able to save your home.” My heart opened to him. Not surprisingly, according to Brené, one of the gifts of imperfection is compassion. Yes, it is.
Glad I was able to apply my own advice about handling stress and putting things back in perspective!
This article is updated from a previous version.
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