How fragile is your mood and stress levels on a day to day basis? Does it change like the wind by the smallest look, behavior, or comment from another person? In looking back at one of my previous blog posts I had written a few years ago during my Southern Connecticut days, I came across a story where my mood and behavior turned sour over the span of seconds. I learned a valuable lesson from this experience that changed my mindset around my inner thoughts and emotions. Here’s what happened:
My 2016 Story
While driving to work the other day, I started my day off on a nice and soothing note.
The morning was dark and quiet.
I plugged in my cell phone and began playing some relaxing piano music. I had my warm coffee in hand and patiently waited for the street lights to turn green before turning onto the highway.
As I merged and settled onto the highway, my calm and peaceful mindset immediately transformed into an angry road-rager.
“Really, person?! REALLY? You can’t move over to the other lane? You’re going 60mph in the passing lane…! Come ON….!”
My own anger startled me.
Just like that, impatience and stress immediately flooded my brain, leaving me hot headed, irritated, and completely unraveled.
Not ideal first thing in the morning on my “peaceful” commute into work.
Identifying Stress And Its Triggers
In an instant, my calm mindset and behavior evaporated into thin air.
I reflected on why I was getting so upset.
What I realized, was that I was getting stressed over the principle that the person in front of me was oblivious to his or her surroundings and was inconsiderate of my own time.
But how much time was I really going to be save by passing them on my commute in to work?
Conservatively speaking… 5 minutes? Maybe?
When I looked at it objectively and from a more zoomed out perspective, I began recognizing that my reaction was out of proportion to the inconvenience it was truly causing in my life.
Five minutes was not going to make me late for work and wouldn’t cause me to lose my job. So why was I getting SO upset?
Want some tips to manage inmediately your stress levels?
Stress Management Techniques
I took a deep breath, relaxed my shoulders, and began using some stress management techniques I had picked up on over the years.
I systematically went through the list in my head and evaluate the scenario from a more patient perspective:
- Identify the stressful trigger
- My stress trigger was a slow-driver in the passing lane
- WHY did you feel triggered?
- I was irritated that the driver was unaware of their surroundings and was being disrespectful of my time and needs.
- Take inventory of your mindset
- I was allowing another person’s behavior- that was completely out of my control- to affect my mood and mindset.
- What are you in control of?
- The only thing I could physically control in the situation was my own driving.
- How BIG of a deal is this, really… (in the scheme of life)?
- Very small.
- How can you use this opportunity to change your mindset AND behavior in response to your stress trigger?
- I decided to switch lanes. Rather than pass the driver, I dropped my speed, turned up my relaxing piano music, and enjoyed my delicious morning coffee. I made the choice to return my mindset back to appreciating a more peaceful early commute into work.
✅ YOUR TURN: In the past 24 hours, what was a stressful trigger in your life? [Now, go through steps #2-6 to trouble shoot this particular scenario].
Integrating Mindful Meditation Into Your Daily Life
In order to help you remember these steps, I encourage you to print out a few copies of my Stress Management Techniques resource and keep them handy.
Keep them in one place or multiple places throughout your life. Ie:
- Office computer
- On your refrigerator
- Taped to your bathroom mirror
- As a screenshot on your phone background
This way, you will have multiple gentle reminders scattered throughout your day to re-evaluate your stressful triggers in order to change your mindset and reduce your daily level of stress.
Want some techniques to reduce your stress levels?
Pay attention to the stressful triggers that sneak into your life. Think about why you’re feeling triggered. Have patience to contemplate what you can control in the situation and if that will exacerbate or ameliorate your stress level. Reframe the scenario into a greater context of your life. How big of a deal is it, REALLY? Most importantly, act deliberately to choose a NEW behavior that aligns with a more peaceful mindset and more patient actions.