Today I was sitting down with one of our athletes for coffee, and we were discussing how to deal with stress, and I told them about one of the strategies I use to keep from getting overwhelmed.
I focus on what I can control…
A decade ago I was overseas in Afghanistan, and my Sergeant was trying to help me deal with a level of stress I had never experienced before. I was stressing about everything and 99.9% of the things I was stressing about I had zero control over.
He explained to me that if I focused on the things I had control over and deprioritized the stuff outside of my control, it could help me cope better with the war zone.
He told me to focus on a few things specifically which are as follows;
Our daily actions:
Every day we have an infinite number of options for what we could do with our day.
We can get up early or sleep in, we can go to work or call in sick, we can do our homework, or we can binge watch Netflix, we can choose to obey the law or break it, we can be lazy, or we can be proactive, but the choice is ours.
We get to choose what we do day in and day out, so what choice will you make today and for the rest of your life.
How we communicate with others:
When you’re talking to your co-workers/ partner/friends and family what language do you use? Do you curse every second word or do you choose to be polite and courteous? Do you speak negatively or positively? Do you think before you talk or do you blurt things out? How do you communicate through social media? Are you trolling people or are you giving words of encouragement?
We choose how we communicate and with whom and when we make a conscious choice to think before we speak our interactions often become more pleasant.
What we consume:
Do you wake up every morning and eat breakfast? Do you drink enough water? Do you make sure you eat colorful fruits and vegetables at each meal? Do you eat lean protein and healthy fats? Do you drink alcohol? Do you smoke? Do you do drugs? Do you skip meals?
If you had to write down all the things you have put in your body in the last 30 days would you feel embarrassed or proud? No one is going to force you to each junk. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re eating garbage because we put our mind on autopilot. By consciously thinking about every meal we bring awareness to our daily habits, and we tend to make better choices.
The amount of physical activity we do:
How do you maintain your body? Do you train? Do you walk/hike? Do you go dancing? Do you like to swim? What do you do to take care of your physical needs?
The human body was designed to run and jump, to push and pull, to lift and squat, to bend and lunge. If we’re not physically active, we can develop depression, we can lose our ability to move well, we can lose our balance, and our mental cognition can become reduced. Over a lifetime of inactivity, we can start to develop obesity, decrepitude and possibly become disabled.
I like to think of the human body as a car, are you fueling it properly with nutrition and are you maintaining it in working operation by moving.
Focusing on the things I have control over has been an enormous help when it comes to thinking about all the unforeseen things that occur in life. It gives me a framework to make better choices, reduce my stress and be more focused.
No one can force you to do anything, but you’re blessed to be able to to do anything you want! If you feel compelled to change something you can do it. When you start to focus on the things you control you will feel empowered because at the end of the day it’s your choice.