(picture from “The Independent”)
Part of motivation is actually stress; that’s what gives the “kick” to get going. The “good” stress as it is called. But what happens when that “good” stress swamps you? Everything falls apart and instead of giving a kick to get going, it either paralyzes you into either non-action or makes you inefficient. Problem is, we seldom notice it happening, one day our heart is just not in it. And when we are stressed, seriously stressed, how do we find the motivation to deal with it? The very nature of stress is the complete opposite of motivation. It is fine to talk about stress-management and techniques – I do it all the time – but I have also realized that this is not always the solution, since motivation is lacking. We need to learn about stress and our own reactions to it to be able to handle it; nip it in the bud, as it were.
Many years ago I had a break-down from stress and of course I didn’t see it coming; I was having the time of my life and things were going well. Being much in demand, I kept adding to my agenda indiscriminately…does it sound familiar? One day I crashed and everything fell apart. I emptied my agenda and just tried to make it through the days. Even though I was a therapist and had all the know-how to handle my own situation, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I didn’t do “all the stuff” to help myself, even though I consciously knew I should. Over time I taught myself to deal with it. This was before stress had become a serious issue, and there was not much help to be found…I just had to figure it out.
When stress is breaking us down we don’t breath, meditate, exercise, eat properly and so on. Even though we know this is what we should be doing we seem to be incapable of doing it, so we take another cup of coffee and force ourselves to push harder to “get on with it” without any motivation for it at all. When the head-aches, back-pains and stomach-pains set in we reach for the pain-killers.
So how do we break this bad circle? How on earth do we find the motivation to deal with our stress? Especially when it seems that the world is caving in on us. This is the inner stress; the invisible enemy that doesn’t really show on the outside, the night-time demons; the angst, fear, sleeplessness, churning thoughts, night-mares, depression and hopelessness. Stress-management starts here; in realizing what you are feeling, when and why. Only then can you start doing something about it. Stress always creates angst and we find ourselves battling invisible fears. The reason I call it “the night-time demons” is because it always happens at night, when we are not occupied. At night they become larger than life, tearing us apart and in day-time we run faster than ourselves to keep these “demons” at bay. This creates a state of chaos in our emotional systems, and we can see no solutions. But there are always solutions.
Start slow, this takes time:
- Every time the “demon” kicks in, get out of bed, turn on the light and look at it: The first question is: “what can I do about it right now?” The answer is usually “NOTHING.”
- Drink a cup of tea, don’t lie in bed tossing and turning, this exacerbates the angst. Better to realize that you are not going to sleep anyway and do something instead; Write lists; what can I do tomorrow? The next day? Maybe I can talk to my boss, teacher, banker and ask for advice. This is a creative process and it helps your mind to relax.
- Change one thing to the positive; like exchanging coffee for herbal tea, take a short walk or pay attention to your breathing. Do this at least once a day. Just one little thing that is manageable. Over time you add to it.
- Cut something out, give yourself a break; Find one thing that you do every day that is not absolutely necessary and cut it out. Again, over time, add to it. One thing at a time.
- Write yourself into your agenda; Your time to do nothing or do something you want. When in stress we have the feeling that we need to explain or excuse ourselves; you are accountable to nobody but yourself. If your agenda is booked, you say no to other stuff…this goes for your time as well. Nobody has the right to question why you are busy, it is nobody’s business but your own.
- ASK FOR HELP! I can’t stress this enough. We all need a helping hand sometimes, and there are always people who are prepared to help us when we need it. You are not alone.
- CRY (if you need/want to); it helps to balance us within when we are “poisoned” by our own stress-hormones. But don’t feel sorry for yourself, remember; you put yourself here in the first place.
- SAY NO! Don’t add anything to your schedule unless it is for your personal self. You are busy healing yourself; make no mistake about it – this is work.
It is all about self-respect. If you do not respect yourself, how are you going to respect anybody else? You will end up resenting the people around you – even your closest ones. It’s like in the airplanes; First you put on your oxygen-mask, then you help others. So get that oxygen-mask on!