Prepare to Stress Less
by Jamie Spannhake
August 06, 2019
I am prone to worrying. I sometimes calling it "thinking" in order to make myself feel better, but often it is actually worrying. Worrying is a kind of anxiety, and anxiety causes stress. My friend and and career coach Diane Costigan once said to me that we feel anxiety when we don't know what will happen and we fear that we cannot handle it. Then she went on to ask me if anything had ever happened that I didn't handle. She didn't ask me if I handled it well, only if I handled it. Of course, I have survived everything in my life (I am still alive!), so the answer was yes.
For me, one way to worry less and stress less is to prepare. I always try to replace worry with a plan. One way to do this is to envision the activity or task that is causing my stress and play our various scenarios and how I can handle them. For example, if I have an oral argument at a hearing in court for a client, I consider how I will begin my argument if the judge asks that I start, and alternatively how I will begin if opposing counsel starts before me. I consider all my arguments as well as counter-arguments to all of opposing counsel's arguments. I plan for various outcomes, good and bad, and how I will convey that outcome to my client in a way that is honest and focuses on the good parts of the possible outcomes. I also play out the worst-case scenario -- the judge yelling at me or dismissing my client's entire case -- and envision how I will handle it: stay calm, speak to the judge respectfully without backing down from my position, and not being defensive.
I can do this in daily life too. Sometimes I worry when we are expecting a new foster child. We know so little beyond age and name, so it can be hard to prepare. So I focus on the little things that I know will make the transition easier for us all. I buy groceries, ensure we have clean sheets, check that we have an extra toothbrush and clothes in the (most likely) correct size. I look at my schedule and determine if I will need a babysitter during the next week and make arrangements for that in advance. If I need to be driving my daughter and my foster child to activities at the same time, then I start looking for someone else to drive one of them.
These little things can really help us stress less as there are fewer things to ensure can handle. Here's list of other "little things" that can help you stress less on a daily basis:
- -keep stamps in your house
- -always have some cash in your wallet or at home
- -keep an umbrella and a blanket in your car
- -keep snacks in your car or office so you don't get too hungry and "hangry" (hungry + angry = hangry) (almonds are my favorite go-to snack)
- -make your bed
- -put your keys in the same place all the time (I put mine on a small D-hook and hang them on my purse strap so they are there when I am at home AND when I am out)
- -laugh at yourself and your desire to try to control everything :-)
Things happen in life that we cannot control, but we can control the way we prepare for and respond to them. xo
Photo by Lindsey Victoria Photography