A few years ago, I was reading an article by Nutritional Biochemist, Author and Speaker Dr. Libby Weaver about what things to look into if stress is an ongoing issue for you. She talked about certain foods and reframing your mindset, but it was the final sentiment that stuck with me:
The opposite of stress is trust.
That short sentence has stayed with me for years, it is stuck to my fridge as a reminder, and has become a guiding light in my stress management and decision making processes. I can’t tell you how many pep talks I have given with this sentiment as the core message.
It would be easy to assume that the opposite of stress is calm or contentment, but those emotions are only the result of the presence of trust. It is hard to genuinely feel those emotions if we feel unsafe, threatened, or uncertain. There are a lot of feelings that are associated with stress – it could feel like worry or uneasiness or suspiciousness – and it could be perceived thoughts. To be in a state of ease, we need to ask ourselves some questions to get to the core fear of what we are stressed about.
Whenever I am feeling stressed or worried or something feels ‘off’ about a person, situation, or anything, I know that if I ask myself “what don’t I trust about this?”, it will come up with an answer. Sometimes I need to ask myself “why?” a few times to get right down to the core of the fear. If we are stressed, we need to pause for a moment and ask ourselves why and what is it about the situation that we do not trust in? What is it about a person that makes us feel stressed?
Once we know why we are stressed, we can build ways to alleviate the stress wherever possible to make ourselves feel better about it. Here are some possible things to try to help ease the stress:
- Have a plan A, B, C and so on. Have a back up plan and activate it when needed.
- Do whatever you can in your control to make yourself feel more comfortable. That may mean setting a strong personal boundary, asking for more information for your specific needs or have someone assist you.
- Find your support team from people who have also experienced the same stress. Ask what they did to help themselves and navigate it.
- When everything around us is changing, we have to find the things that are reliable and constant that we trust in. Remind yourself of these things regularly.
- Remind yourself of when a similar situation went well and replicate it.
- What would the best case scenario be? Imagine it and work towards that goal!
Here is an example of how this process would work:
“What don’t I trust about being invited to dinner?
I am stressed about what food the host may serve.
I’m intolerant to seafood and scared of meals which contain hidden seafood ingredients. I don’t trust that my intolerances are taken seriously. I don’t want to eat food unknowingly, or be in a position where I am peer pressured into eating it, or be an inconvenience or embarrassment to myself and the host.
Because I have been in those positions before and it has made the experience difficult to handle and dulled the enjoyment of the event. It has made me really sick in the past and taken months to recover from one episode.
Ways to make myself feel less stressed about the situation:
- Ask the host ahead of the time of the event what food will be served and if there is anything you need to avoid or ask them to provide an alternative meal.
- Regularly practice advocating for your dietary needs without embarrassment or feeling like an inconvenience. We all have different needs – this is just yours and it’s ok.
- Make sure the seriousness of the situation is understood.
- If someone is downplaying your needs, set a personal boundary to take care of yourself first.
- Remind myself of events I have been to where food was not an issue and I enjoyed myself. What about this situation worked well? Replicate it!
- Ask for advice and support from someone else who goes through the same experiences.
- If still not sure or comfortable, eat beforehand and BYO snacks!
This can be applied to anything – if you are worried about going to appointments or hospital, an activity your child is doing, someone who makes you uncomfortable to be around, your accessibility needs in a new place – the list goes on because stress will always be a challenge for us to work through.
When stress does arise, I hope you remember that the opposite of stress is trust and that you have the ability to do what you can to move yourself closer to trust.
Take good care and stay safe, Readers. I’ll keep the light on.
Take heart, you will be ok.
If you have ever experienced a crisis, a medical condition, a major change or been impacted by the current COVID-19 situation, you may probably have noticed the secondary effect of a level of uncertainty and discomfort. I wish I could wave a magic wand and help it disappear for you. Instead I have hard truths and some hard work to practice, which is well worth the effort for your mental and emotional well-being and for those around you.
How do we navigate it?
How do we understand it?
How do we explain it?
How do we accept it?
I have learnt that time and expectations are two very dangerous things to try to predict and manage. Now we are all learning that with COVID-19 too.
In the second instalment of Take Control Of What You Can Series, I’m talking about regaining control of an environment to make you feel happier, healthier and safer.
When chronic conditions start to infiltrate every part of your life, you can feel like you are losing control or have others make all the choices for you. This series is about regaining a bit of control in areas that are manageable and make a huge difference – starting with the online world! Read about how I changed my online experience from taking me for a ride to taking the wheel!