Apr 4, 2012

Stress Management 101: Be Still My Heart

Heart by seyed mostafa zamani
Heart, a photo by seyed mostafa zamani on Flickr.

The heart is an excitable part of the human anatomy.  After all, it is the seat of our emotions. Being one of the hardest working organs in our body, pumping blood and beating 24/7, it is definitely prone to so much stress.  How stressed it can get depends on every individual's physical, emotional, mental and spiritual state of overall health.

I wouldn't probably be talking about stress management if I have not been going through some form of stress lately.  Typically, at work, we get stressed with deadlines.  You know, too many tasks to be done and so little time.  I would have probably handled that well, as I work better under that kind of pressure, adrenaline rush and all.  I'm used to that kind of thing and I have learned to be cool about it even if everyone else is already in panic mode.  

But an overload of tasks is not what's stretching me to my limits these days.  Conflicts with colleagues could prove to be even more stressful to me, personally as it involves the emotional aspect.  Disagreements are natural, but when people cross their boundaries, that is something else.  More so when people raise their voices unnecessarily, that somehow pushes a red button in me.  And I say red because I do turn red, a sign of rising anger that needs to be quelled as soon as possible, or else....

The good thing is, I have already had quite a lot of practice with handling my emotions.  Though I am probably as excitable as ever, I have been striving to live by the principle of being still.  Yes, stillness even when I am wearing my battle gears (figuratively of course).  Before I even confronted this colleague, I have already prepared myself for the worst that could happen.  I think that is the key to how I handled myself later on.

 In handling conflicts, I always remind myself to :
  • Be calm - If I cannot keep calm, I let a few moments pass until I am emotionally still.  This takes a lot of practice.  When my heart is already beating, normally, that's the only time I take action.
  • Think rationally - This involves getting the facts straightened out.  When everything is laid out clearly, at least in my head, then I can process the situation much better.  Thinking rationally also involves detaching the emotional side even for a while.  There's a reason why the brain is positioned higher than the heart, right?
  • Be prepared - People who are guilty of something tend to react defensively.  Expecting the worst, to me is better than being caught by surprise. Before I even confronted this colleague, I have already thought of this eventuality. And I was right.  The person became somewhat agitated in the middle of our discussion that started out well but took a turn for the worse.
  • Be in control of my response - I have no control over an agitated person, but I definitely have full control of how I would respond.  I always go for the path of peace.  That much is obvious as I held my mouth closed for a while, listening while the person rants.  I was doing some deep breathing as the person delivers the melodramatic speech in an elevated tone that later on, I realized was really nonsensical, as it didn't hit the real issues.
  • Walk out  of the conflict as the better person - As much as I can, and whenever possible, I maintain my good composure.  I am rarely the one who lashes at the other person.  I avoid saying hurtful words that I will definitely regret later on.  I want to feel good about myself later as I look back at that encounter.  And I do feel good, knowing I have aired my side well without being a drama queen.  
I love my heart.  And as much as I can, I would not do anything to jeopardize my heart health.  It's a personal responsibility that I take seriously.  Here's a little secret (that's not really a secret) that I'd like to share, my favorite verse:

"Be still...and know that I am God."   The second part of this verse is actually the key to how I keep still.  It is the knowledge that I have a God who is bigger than any tough situations I have to face.  That gives me the kind of peace that transcends all understanding.

 

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