When you think about stressful times (even enjoyably stressful times like celebrating holidays) ahead, do you overwhelm yourself with thoughts of all you have to do? Telling yourself, over and over, how hectic things will be?
As an experiment, why not try using your imagination to help you? Rather than thinking of all the things that could go wrong, visualise them going as smoothly and enjoyably as possible. Practice before things get stressful, making it part of your daily routine. Before you go to bed or first thing in the morning is ideal. Imagine yourself enjoying every minute of the day ahead in great detail. Your practicing this on normal days will help make it more habitual for more stressful times.
Where you notice hiccups and no amount of visualisation will work, acknowledge the bumpy road ahead but, rather than feeling defeated by it, ask yourself how you can support yourself through it. What can you put in place, in advance, to make things that much easier for yourself?
Imagine your stress is a really hectic period at work. There may be nothing you can do differently to affect your workload but you might reschedule some nights out or ensure early nights and quiet weekends so you’re as rested as possible and better able to handle things.
Perhaps you’re already be dreading the holidays. Maybe it’s the thought of endless relatives descending on your doorstep or you hate driving and spending so much time going from place to place. Perhaps you’re grieving and this will be an especially painful time of year without your loved one.
Think about what you’re most afraid of. When do you expect to be most stressed / chaotic / upset? What support can you put in place to help ease things as much as possible? Would a sibling love to help you get things ready? Perhaps your children are old enough to be involved? Maybe you can share the driving or even meet several people at a midway point?
Perhaps there’s a conversation you’ve been putting off and know it needs to happen. Allow yourself to imagine the best possible outcome with both of you feeling great about the resolution. What objections crop up in your imagination? Contemplating them in advance may help you come up with solutions for when you actually have the conversation. You might have someone to keep you accountable who you can ring or email when you’ve done it. Alternatively, you might plan something nice for yourself for afterwards and have the idea of this to help keep you strong.
You know yourself best. When you catch yourself worrying about any kind of future fears, just pause. Get your imagination to work for you. Ask yourself what you might need in any stressful moment and put some strategies in place to make everyday more peaceful and enjoyable.
Find out more about my counselling, coaching, stress management and complementary therapy services at www.wellbeing-at-work.co.uk and get in touch today to book your free consultation for face to face work in Witham, Essex or telephone and Skype work wherever you’re based.