A couple of weeks ago, I found myself feeling anxious. When I had down time at work, I’d break out my phone and scroll through Facebook. What was meant to be a moment to pause and relax would turn into a stressful reminder of the state of the world. So I made a quick second decision to delete Facebook off my phone. A simple little move, that started to change the course of my days. My down time was spent practicing Spanish on Duolingo, returning texts (something that often got forgotten when I’d get sucked into the Facebook rabbit hole) or going for walk and getting some air, instead of making me more stressed.
There is very little we have control over. I can’t control if my train to work is going to run on time or if these blog posts are going to resonate with anyone, or if taking a risk is going to result in the outcome I want. I cannot control any of that.
I can control how I react.
I can do my best in every situation and relinquish control when it is no longer in my hands.
I can also make little changes here and there, to decrease the stress I feel. So for instance, lately the subway in NYC has been awful. I mean AWFUL. I was stuck underground one day for a full hour. However, instead of being shocked that the trains are stuck again, I can come at it a little more prepared. How? By saving some funny podcast episodes for those moments. Making sure I always have water and a snack with me. Having a pen and little notebook to jot down any ideas. I clearly cannot control the trains, but I can control my response to a non-moving train.
Focussing on what you CAN do and letting go of what you have no control over might be one of the most self-care-y things you can do for yourself. Don’t think for a second that I’m a master of this. I’m really not, but I’m making baby steps.
So the next time you feel your blood pressure rising and you’re in a situation you desperately want to control but can’t, first breathe. Give your body a moment to recalibrate by breathing. Then remind yourself what you CAN control, your thoughts and your reactions. Additionally, try in that moment to practice gratitude. That day I was stuck underground I said over and over, “Thank you. Thank you.” Just months before I was prescribed a new medication that calms my rebellious stomach down in moments of intense stress. This moment would have been 1000x more stressful without that medication, and so even though I was stuck underground my gratitude for the lack of actual stress I felt was overflowing.
The serenity prayer says it best, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
You’ve got this.
Take care of YOU.