Dealing with Stress and Anxiety

Dealing with stress and anxiety can be paralyzing -- it manifests differently in everyone but the impacts are real and disruptive. And today was a prime example. 

I was on speaker phone with my BFF as she raced to the dentist’s office this morning. She’s a wife, a mom of four (the new one is only 8 weeks old) she’s back at work (part time), and managing a breastfeeding schedule, the gym, a dog, and other waves of tasks she deals with on a daily basis. We’ve been friends since 1985 -- do the math, we’ve witnessed a lot of life together and this morning, I heard the frustration in her voice.   

“Arrrgh, I’m on my way to the dentist which means I have to make the time up at work!” But I don’t want to entertain low frequency vibes -- so “I’m happy, it’s going to be an amazing day. Yay, the dentist!”

Does that scenario sound familiar? Tons of tasks and responsibilities to manage in one day and trying to smile through it all? Piling on toxic positivity doesn’t work -- you know, when you “look on the bright-side” to convince yourself that it’s really not all that bad? Well, at least I have teeth that the dentist can scrape, you tell yourself all the while you’re covering up what’s happening.

When you participate in toxic positivity--around something that’s creating stress and anxiety for you -- you’re telling yourself what you’re experiencing isn’t real and you invalidate your own thoughts which is dangerous because now you’ve created a disempowered version of yourself out in the world trying to be the best mom, wife, fur parent, employee, PTA participant, etc. 

It’s a chain reaction that occurs repeatedly and automatic (which “automatic” is the key word here). This pattern sets you up to avoid listening to yourself in stressful and anxious situations and you falsely begin to think, “I can’t trust my initial thought or reaction, so I should go find another thought or feeling to trust --preferably one that’s positive. Maybe you even go speak to someone to help you figure this out -- like Barb in accounting. 

There’s nothing wrong with getting feedback, in fact, as a Life Coach, it’s what I do for a living -- give my clients feedback and guide them to discovery. But are the people in your life trained for that? Sometimes they inadvertently feed your anxiety and cause more stress. “Omg, that sucks that you have to make up those hours you lost. Will you get to breastfeed your baby ever again? But on the plus side, those sure are some pearly whites you’re flashing in between your panic attack!” Thanks Barb!

Instead, get to the root of the stress and anxiety, which is what I did with my friend. “You sound so frantic -- what about this situation is making you anxious, is it really the hours you have to make up?”

There was silence. Then more silence. Then a burp. Then an “Sorry!” 

“What’s happening over there?” I asked, as she turned the car engine off at the dentist’s parking lot.

“It’s not the hours that I have to make up. It’s that I still breastfeed and I want to keep doing it for a few more months and when I’m at work, I have to step away from my desk so even when I’m here, I’m not here, I’m off pumping every 3-4 hours.”

“Who knows about your situation?”

“HR knows because I’m in talks about finding a closer private place to pump, my boss knows, and my direct supervisor.”

“What I’m hearing is that HR, your boss and your DM know -- and they’re even working with you to find a better space to pump -- and you’re committed to both work and the baby and I see that because you show up for work and you’re pumping at work, but in your mind -- where is the struggle still? Why so much anxiety and stress?”

“Oh, wait, so if the 3 main people that need to know about my situation are okay with it, and they are, it’s me, it’s only me creating the stress and anxiety! In my mind, I feel that if I leave my desk too much, I’m not a good employee and so I stay at my desk past my breastfeeding alarms and then the guilt sets in because I know I should be pumping! It’s in my own head, when in reality I’m doing my best and only leave when it’s time to pump and them I’m right back answering emails, working on my project, and collaborating with my team!” She said in discovery!

And that’s what I called a “created upset.” Our minds are so powerful that they create a world of “how life should be” and “how I should act” and so much more -- and when there’s a disconnect from the “how I should…” we have an upset, a created upset that you’ll never get to or discover if you’re always piling up toxic positivity when you’re stress and anxiety are triggered.

The next time you’re feeling anxious over a situation or stressed out -- ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” And be in discovery of any created upsets lurking in your mind. If you’re ready for Breakthrough Coaching to uncover some of your created upsets -- let’s chat because their impact are what’s causing your stress and anxiety!

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