Each Monday I write a Monday morning PEPTALK to send to our community... Usually this 'Monday PEPTALK' arrives to inboxes first thing in the morning. Today it's a little late. The reason is, I hit a bump. A bump in the road. A 'bump' is an inconvenient, completely annoying, or infuriatingly irritating happening that can happen at any time or any day and usually results in knocking us off track or slowing us down.
My bump :
We were away in the weekend and as I sat down to write Monday's PEPTALK I realised I left my computer charger in the motel room. We have no other charger in the house for my laptop and the battery is on 14%.
My immediate response to this realisation was at first physical - breathing and heart rate sped up, feeling hot and starting to sweat. This is the body's sympathetic nervous system taking over, a threat has presented itself and I now have to get ready to fight or flight. Next comes the mental response - my brain starts catastrophizing, thinking of all of my plans for the day and to-do list disturbed, my precious time being eaten up now having to deal with this, and my brain starts to recall all of the other little stresses nagging at me and piles them on top.
STOP! Reality check!
I left my computer charger behind.
I am not being chased by a sabre toothed tiger.
I can handle this.
In fact I can learn and grow from this.
I had an entirely different PEPTALK lined up for today, but my 'bump' has given me the opportunity to share an even more important message ....
5 Things To Do When You Hit A Bump
1. STOP & BREATH
Close your eyes. Take 3 long, slow breaths into your belly, in through your nose, out through your mouth, make the exhale twice as longer as the inhale. As you exhale, relax your shoulders and allow yourself to let go. This will take you back into the parasympathetic nervous system, where it's possible to calmly and rationally deal with the situation.
2. PIVOT YOUR THINKING
Turn the bump from an annoyance to an opportunity. Pivoting is a powerful skill and we all have the ability to do it. Like any other skill, you can improve your ability to pivot through practice. ASK : How can I use this as an opportunity to practice a new way of dealing with stress?
Stress is a part of life. If you are alive, then things are going to go wrong, you are going to experience bumps in the road most days of your life. Learning to deal with the bumps calmly and rationally and minimising the level of mental and physical stress they cause, is one of the most important skills you can learn to master.
Deciding that you are going to use this bump as an opportunity to develop your skill of handling bumps, will immediately change your focus.
3. KEEP IT IN PROPORTION
In the scheme of life, how big actually is this? By blowing it out of proportion you can allow this bump to ruin your whole day, potentially your whole week if you really get on a negative roll.
It can be the start of a flow on effect of one thing after the other going wrong, or it can be a simple isolated bump that you deal with and move on. You are in control of how big this gets. A question to ask is, 'Will this matter in a year?'. Chances are it won't, so don't allow it to monopolise your day.
4. HELPING OR HARMING?
In resilience expert Dr Lucy Hone's 'Three secrets of resilient people' she shares the strategy of asking - "Is this helping me or harming me?". One example is to use this question to help you decide whether to share your bump with others and if you do, who to share it with.
Ask - Will talking about this bump with others help me or harm me?
What will they say and will that make me feel better or worse?
In my situation if I share this wee hiccup I can imagine some members in my family might say, "Oh, you are so hopeless, you're always leaving things behind!".
(I do have a bit of a reputation for this!). Will this make me feel better or worse? Probably worse!
If you feel you want to share your bump for support, then choose carefully who you share it with. Choose someone who will listen and respond with supportive comments.
Secondly consider - is talking about it helping you to deal with it and move on, or keeping you stuck in the situation? Either answer is fine, the important thing is you stop and consider your course of action so you can consciously decide what is most helpful to moving through this with minimal stress.
5. WHAT CAN I DO?
Control the controllables - This is about focusing your energy on the things you can control. Can you do anything about this situation / bump? If yes, what is it and take action. If not, you will need to find a way to let this go for now and shift your focus to some other aspect of your day. In my case, now I'm feeling calm I can start to logically think through the situation... Most of the work I need to do today is cloud-based, I could use my husband's computer to complete my tasks, not perfect but it will work.
Get over it and get on with it. The longer you sit and lament the problem or beat yourself up over it, the more time you'll waste. Further more, when your stressing and fretting you shut down your ability to think of creative solutions.
Later I thought of an idea to post on Facebook to ask if anyone has a charger I could borrow for my laptop. By 9am problem solved! I now have a charger to borrow, the motel has been phoned and my charger is on the courier.
Minimal stress, minimal fuss, minimal time wasted.
I hope this helps you the next time you inevitably hit a bump.