Have you ever had a string of “bad luck”? A time where it seemed like everything in every part of your life that could go wrong did go wrong? Often it starts with a situation that is not immediately solvable – like a stressful situation at work or with a family member. Then while you are in the process of dealing with that main issue, other smaller issues start to pile on top of it. Your child gets sick. You get sick. You have car trouble. Something breaks in your house. It seems like it’s one thing after another, to the point where it might feel like you have a black cloud following you around.
At the time, we chalk this up to bad luck. “How is it that all these bad things keep happening to meee?” we whine, as if we have no control over any of it. But what if we do?
It’s easy to understand how a stressful situation puts us in an immediate heightened state, but what we do from that state is what’s important. For example, let’s say you wake up in the morning, happy and refreshed. Your stress level is low, let’s say a 1 or a 2. You get the kids ready for school, there is the “normal” drama around getting dressed and eating breakfast. You may not realize it but your stress level rises slightly to a 3. School drop off goes ok, but as you drive into the office you hit traffic that’s going to make you late. Now you are at a 4. You finally make it to work, exasperated but ready to start your day. The first email you read talks about an urgent issue that needs your immediate attention, your stress level doubles to an 8 and that’s where you sit for the rest of the day. Maybe you get the issue taken care of, which decreases your immediate stress level slightly, but you are still humming around a 7. You drive home (more traffic), pick up the kids (who are moving so slow) and start making dinner (we’re hungry!) – all of which, without even realizing it, have pushed that stress back to 8. That is why when dinner is served and a glass of milk gets spilled, you have an instant reaction (and it’s not good). You’re in the red zone of stress and frustration and you can now also add guilt for your outburst with your kids.
How many of us are simmering at a stress level of 7 or higher? Where we are so tightly wound that a seemingly little thing can tip the scales? If everyone is being honest, I think it is far more present than most people are willing to admit. The problem is a high level of stress contributes to all other areas of your life. Your “bad luck” is not random. High levels of stress have a domino effect on your health, on your relationships and on your daily interactions.
More times than not, it is reflected in your health – you get sick often, or injured, or both. Most of us know that when we get sick it’s a sign that we need to slow down, but often we feel that there is too much to do and we need to just push through it and keep going. We must do a better job at listening to our bodies. Slowing down for one day is not enough. We might need to change what we are eating, how we are exercising and how much rest we are getting.
We need to find ways to get that stress level below a 5. Find something that you really enjoy. Something that makes you happy and try to integrate that throughout your day. Plan for more breaks throughout the day to decompress and relax. If that is not enough, then you have to dig deeper as to why these stressors are having such an impact on you. Journal about why it is stressing you out. What will happen if you don’t do it? Could it be that you are afraid of something? Is that fear realistic or have you made it a bigger deal that it really is? What is it going to take to remove this stress? How can you look at the situation differently?
Life’s too short to run around stressed out all the time. That black cloud following you around? It’s actually on a string, that’s in your hand and you have been pulling it along with you this entire time. All you need to do is let go. Start looking at things from a new perspective. Release the stress. Relax. Have fun. Find your joy.
Are you having trouble saying yes to asking for help? Having a coach may be the yes you’ve been looking for. I have two spots left in my 90-day workshop and would love for you to fill one of those spots. Message me or comment below and I can fill you in on all the details.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.