Escape stress cycles with three M’s
Here are three powerful ways out of stress cycles when you are spinning with hypothetical “what if” scenarios, worries, and concerns.
Nicole’s stressful worries wouldn’t go away, even once she got home. She did her usual self-reflection steps when experiencing worry and restlessness:
- Am I safe? YES!
- Is there anything I’m avoiding? Procrastinating? Delaying? NO
- Is there anything that needs to change? NO
With that, Nicole felt that all was well. But her mind/body/spirit thought otherwise. Her mind kept spinning with hypothetical “what if” scenarios, worries, and concerns for the future that were , at worst, out of her control in this moment, and at best, very unlikely and almost laughable. “What’s going on?” Nicole wondered. “Ahh. That’s it. I’m stuck in a stress cycle.”
Have you ever experienced a stress cycle? I certainly have. For me, stress cycles most often occur at bedtime when I’m trying to sleep. During the day, conjectural worries might interrupt my focus on a task, or occupy my thoughts during activities I would like to do mindfully but can manage mindlessly. That might be shower time, exercise time, or commuting time.
Escape with stress management
Soothing yourself is often the best option during a stress cycle. The trick is to match your stress intervention to both your situation and your stress level.
The three M’s for a sense of calm
The three M’s are easy to learn and do, almost free, and adaptable to your preferences and the amount of time you have available. The goal/intention is to leave the stress cycle in favor of a sense of calm.
Any comfortable movement will do. Near bedtime, keep it gentle with restful yoga and simple stretches.
Most important, choose music you like, then match the music to your stress level. Can’t sit still? Dance tunes! Nearly ready to sleep? Meditation music! There’s more about how to choose music in this blog: Soothe Yourself With Your Favorite Music
Try moving meditations like yoga and tai chi, breathwork, or guided meditation. You’ll find three free guided breathwork experiences on Free Stress Relief Tools
Tips for success
Tip #1: Match your stress releaser to your stress level. High stress? Move! Medium stress? Music! Low stress? Meditate! Why? Because meditation would be particularly challenging if you are so stressed you can’t sit still. Your intervention will be most effective if you match it to your stress level.
You might start with movement. As you step down the stress stairway, continue on to music for medium stress. As you step further down the stress stairway, continue on to meditation.
For example, if I really can’t sleep, which was often true when either my Dad or husband were hospitalized, I would get up and do gentle stretches. Then, I would listen to Native American flute music. Finally, I’d lie down and listen to a sleepy guided imagery.
Tip #2: It’s equally important to match your stress releaser to your situation. Movement may not be safe while commuting or on an airplane or in some work situations. Meditation is not safe when driving or any time you need to remain fully alert and vigilant for yourself and others. Music works in most any setting, with some adaption, except in settings where music would be rude or socially unacceptable.
Stop the stress cycle
Next time you are spinning with “what if” scenarios, worries, and concerns, here’s what to do.
- Ask yourself three self-reflection questions
- Am I safe? If not, do what you need to do in order to be safe.
- Is there anything I’m avoiding? Procrastinating? Delaying? If yes, get started. You’ll feel better even after taking a baby step.
- Is there anything that needs to change? If yes, start the change process.
- If none of the above, and you believe your worries and concerns are hypothetical, move on to step 2.
- Sooth yourself and escape the stress cycle with
These three powerful stress reducers can gently guide you out of stress cycles when you are spinning with hypothetical “what if” scenarios, worries, and concerns. They work for me all the time!
But this is important: get professional help if worries persist. You could start with either your healthcare provider, or employee health services offered by your employer.
In peace, Gale
If you’d like to learn more about matching your stress releaser to your stress level, or to your situation, I have a course for that: Managing Stress, Mindfully.
- Advanced stress management strategies
- Nurse-specific suggestions you can use to find time for stress management
- A deep dive into when and how to effectively use the stress solutions you love
- Online, to do wherever you like. Even on the beach!
- On-demand and available at your convenience
- Created for nurses by a nurse
The vital skills you need are:
(1) How to find time
(2) How to expertly choose the right stress intervention, and
(3) How to apply stress management interventions to get the maximum outcome
Managing Stress, Mindfully will give you these skills, and lots of stress management interventions too! Managing Stress Mindfully
For more about releasing stress and vigilance at bedtime
enroll in Rest.WORK.Survive. In this short but powerful program you’ll receive, among other features, the “Power Down to Rest” webinar AND an audio guided meditation for sleep titled, “Starry Starry Night.”