Stress handling is NOT about trying to gain immunity from stress – that is silly and counterproductive.
It’s about as quickly as possible regaining balance and calm when problems bring you out of balance – make you angry, confused, overwhelmed, etc.
“Getting back into balance when you’ve been knocked about is as important as learning not to be knocked about.”
Your Lifelines are just that – a kind of first aid kit which is healthy and gives you a quick break and some energy.
You have them close by – in some form or format. You can use them without thinking too much. It is important you can recall them when you are hard pressed.
One of the oldest methods is this:
‘Count to 10 and take a deep breath’
– when you are about to become angry. It actually still works, I can tell you.
I have a special lifeline by my bed, which is a book about Joan of Arc that I love very much. It always gives me great hope and energy reading about her. So whenever I feel down or something nasty has happened I get a ‘fix of hope’ reading in that book.
A close contender is my annotated version of Tolkien’s The Hobbit – simply because I love Tolkien’s work and world so much, and I get such good energy from all the wonder he put into these books.
I also have a close friend I know I can call at any time, and I know this is a privilege in a way. On the other hand, you don’t get or keep close friends if you don’t work for it. And many people seem to be too busy working their jobs instead of working on their friendships.
So when they lose their jobs they also lose what they may have thought to be friendships, but these people were in reality just colleagues – perhaps acquaintances or comrades even. But friends? Real friends?
Well … how many times have you seen your closest colleagues from the last job you had? On what occasions? There are exceptions, but the rule is probably that it is dangerous to confuse the two – colleagues and friends.
So invest some time in your friendships, not just your career. It will serve you well when your career tanks. Which it will on occasion.
But there’s more than that! Here are some of my other lifelines – and some suggestions for what I believe could be useful lifelines for you. But you have to remake the list to fit your situation and preferences:
– I have some special music I always hear when the going gets tough and I need to persevere at something
– Long walks – wherever I can – are really, really good at giving me energy when I feel a bit down and disheartened. I relax and let my thoughts fly – get fresh air into the lungs. It’s so bloody simple and it works so well.
So I have a few favorites that I paste on my desktop, write down where I can see them, and so on.
Use them like affirmations. Some of them are about being an entrepreneur. Some of them are about perseverance. Some of them are just about guiding my attention to the world’s beauty and wonder. Often I try to find a picture that matches.
There can be crises that are so great that you just need to survive them. Or at least ride the waves until you can even think about which lifeline you even have ready to pull yourself up and go on. Life is not always fully controllable – not even by lifelines.
Think of it as the emergency kit. It doesn’t prevent bad stuff from happening, but it sure alleviates a lot if you have it handy when you hurt yourself in the kitchen. Or greater disasters.