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Stress: Managing the Unmanageable

According to Stefanie BookerAtchison of Heartwise Holistics, you don’t manage stress. It’s unmanageable. Stress is a part of our human experience. However, that doesn’t mean that we’re all destined for a state of overwhelm 24/7. She told me the key to managing the unmanageable, and it ties to our humanity.

If you prefer the audio version, listen here:

Ruthie: In this episode, I want to talk about what we’re all feeling: stress. So much stress. 

How Do You Manage Your Stress?

Ruthie: Just a couple of days ago, I was sitting at my desk and suddenly, I started feeling this little ball of stress in my chest for no reason! Nothing had happened. It just started. 

I know why it happened; because I’m under a high amount of stress and it just took that moment to flare up. The more stressed I am, the bigger that prickly ball feels. So I decided to go for a walk to destress. 

I know that you help people work through these types of things, but how are you dealing with all of this stress right now? 

Stefanie: I’m doing surprisingly well right now, but the past 6 weeks have been challenging. Even though I try to practice what I preach, it’s always difficult to maintain that perfect level of harmony within oneself. 

I think it helps to know that even people who do this kind of work have difficulty. Even if somebody thinks they’re perfect and they do everything perfectly all the time, stressful moments are going to just happen. Especially the life we’re living right now. That would be stressful for somebody, but not for me. It makes me smile. It makes me laugh. 

Accept Your Human Moments

Ruthie: It’s a human moment. 

Stefanie: It is a human moment. But anyway, I’ve found the best way to manage my stress is to not manage my stress. If I have a freak out moment, I freak out. 

As a matter of fact, I consider that the first step in resiliency; if you’re going to be resilient, you’ve got to have a freak out moment, or a pity party, or your mental funeral, whatever you want to call it. There has to be room for that. I have to acknowledge the upset. I have to be with, sit with, and deal with what’s stressing me before I can distress.

So right now I’m having difficulty getting my sleep pattern back together. So what I’ve taken to doing is not only meditating in the morning, but I also have a meditative trick that I do at night before I go to sleep. 

Most Common Stress-Related Issues For Business People Right Now

Ruthie: Before we get into the tips and tricks, what are some of the most common stress-related issues you’ve found in entrepreneurs and executives? I feel like if we can list some of those common problems, that can help people decide if working with someone like you would be a good step for them. Especially since  we can do it online now! 

Stefanie: I’ll start with the 2 that I’m finding right now that I’m encountering the most. 

Loss of Focus

Stefanie: The first one has to do with the stress that’s coming from different areas of their life interfering with their ability to work. For example, there are over 8 million restaurant workers who are currently out of work.

If you currently work in a restaurant and you’re trying to sustain yourself in a different manner, you’re either trying to find another job or trying to do something. You’ve got a lot of things to pay for: bills, childcare, medical bills, rent, food, car payments, mortgage, etc. 

I would like for you to do a thought experiment. Just imagine each one of those things being a 10 lbs brick that you’re holding. Trying to do your job while you’re holding all of those bricks makes it very difficult for you to focus. 

If you’re a customer service person and you’re talking to someone,  and then your car payment company calls your phone, it may take you out of your thought process with the customer. You’ll find it harder to give good customer service to this person. 

Loss of Self-Confidence

Stefanie: The second issue is losing self-confidence; losing the ability to believe that you’re going to come out of this okay.

Or that you’re going to get a new job.

Or that things are going to be alright and you’ll be successful. People are finding it difficult to let go and not give energy to this negative attitude. 

Stretching the Rubber Band

Stefanie: However, for business owners, it’s the opposite. They are really wrestling with having to lay off so many employees. They’re really struggling. They can’t sleep, they can’t eat.

As I said, when you’re dealing with stress, it affects every area of your life. You snap more at people that you care about, you don’t take care of your physical body, and you’re allowing your mental capacity to run rampant. There are 15 things that you don’t even care about that reside in your head, instead of doing the one thing that you’re trying to focus on. 

So that’s what I’m seeing happen to businesspeople specifically. There’s a genuine sense of overwhelmedness, helplessness, and uncertainty of everything. 

When you think about stress and uncertainty, your body is poised and used to dealing with whatever comes at it. We’re ready for it! And if you’re a business owner, you already know you have to handle your place of business:

  • paying the light bill
  • keeping up with the technology
  • keeping employee benefit and pensions paid

Usually, the highest bill after paying for employees, is all of those other things. So your mind is already focused on all of those. 

If your mind was a rubber band, it’s already stretched thin every day, all the time. And that’s the regular amount of stress that you deal with. You know you’re really good at dealing with stress, so you keep stretching it just a little bit more every time. But if you keep it like that for days and weeks and months, it’s going to break. Something’s got to give. 

Losing Your Elasticity

Ruthie: My husband and I met on deployment. We were both in the army. and we were actually comparing this experience to that. In some ways, it’s very similar to deploying. 

And to your note about the rubber band, that is exactly how we lived. All stretched out like that. And once you come back, nobody teaches you how you’re supposed to make your rubber band elastic again.