Hello everybody, welcome to episode 167 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Happy to be here with you today with a question that I really look forward to answering. We’ve got a listener who is feeling particularly reflective about her relationships and how she could be serving them better. Always up to better some relationships – the most important things in our lives. Let’s see if we can help this asker bring her best to the people she loves most despite being under stress. Here’s what she has to say…
QUESTION: “I think that the lockdown situation gets us all to reflect more on our relationships. Today I am struggling with this feeling of being annoyed by everything, being tired all the time and without any motivation to do anything. Although I know that its just stress and being overwhelmed by the whole situation, I need to set a goal to become more kind to my loved ones and to overcome this really angry, sad and, at times, very rude version of me that keeps coming up. It is not the true me.”
Kudos on Owning Your Life
All right! Wanting to do right by your family and relationships – love to see that. Good question, good self-awareness.
I’m glad you realize that you’re projecting your own frustrations and that your loved ones have (presumably) done nothing wrong here. Keep taking that type of ownership your whole life and you’ll be a-ok.
Let’s start with the easy stuff; the goal-setting stuff. Yes, you absolutely can and should set a goal to be more kind to your loved ones and find a way to hold yourself accountable to it.
How would someone formulate such a goal? I think there are a few places to start.
How Do I Be Kinder to Loved Ones?
It could be as simple as setting daily or weekly mini goals just to get yourself some momentum – offering however many compliments per day, doing however many random acts of kindness per week, making a point to tell your loved ones that you love them each night.
There are a lot of ways you can choose to bring kindness to your loved ones, and based on where you’re at now, even a little stepping stone like this will feel wonderful for you and them.
You could also get more reflective and think about kind things you used to do but have neglected since your stress started to pile up.
Maybe ways you used to help out around the house that you care less about lately, friends you used to call that you’ve fallen out of touch with, any volunteer work from the past that you’ve given up.
Not only will these types of things bring kindness back into the world, but they’ll also put you back into a good rhythm like you were before the lockdown, and the feeling of having part of your routine back can go a long way.
What Do Your Loved Ones Need Help With?
Finally, I might recommend thinking about what types of things your loved ones need help with or would really appreciate, but don’t necessarily ask for.
How can you step in and help in these ways? Is someone studying for a big exam and you could quiz them with flashcards? Is someone building something and in need of a helper to hammer in a few nails?
Think about what your loved ones are working on or struggling with themselves, and the ways in which you can contribute.
So those would just be some avenues you could take to start creating kindness goal for yourself. With that being said, I think the real work for you is getting better at stress management overall and harvesting a new approach to these types of situations over time.
Otherwise, you’ll repeat the same pattern each time you’re under major stress and remain miserable underneath acts of kindness.
Kindness When Under Stress
Actually, I take that back. Sort of. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again that actions can easily change motivation.
Perhaps engaging in enough kindness will chip away enough at your mood that your stress levels decrease. But why not attack both angles just to be safe, eh?
That way, the next time something powerful enough to drain your motivation comes around, you’ll have a strong foundation to work with.
I realize there have been a lot of fleeting ideas thrown around so far, but I have a few more I’m going to offer you, so I sure hope you brought your notepad today. Long term stress management can be challenging, especially if you’re working on it alone.
So I’ll read off some questions you can start asking yourself that should help a bit; questions that all seek to neutralize you so that you’re not so easily swayed by tough times, or even easy ones for that matter. Ideally, we all want to be able to call the shots in good times and bad and not let these external events toss us around.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Under Stress
Question One: What is one way you can challenge yourself, or make yourself uncomfortable each day?
Your strong reaction to this probably one-off pandemic in your lifetime tells me that you’re not used to conflicts that are powerful enough to change your mood. So think about steps you can take to toughen yourself up in that way; voluntarily leaning into stressors and doing a little exposure therapy.
I might recommend doing this in the morning. Research suggests that our morning routines should be reflective of mentalities we want to live by the rest of the day.
So if you’re trying to get better at leaning into challenges, taking a freezing shower each morning is probably better for you than meditating with hot tea.
Question Two, conversely, is: What is one act of self-care you can do for yourself each day?
Again, neutralizing means introducing tension and ease alike. Especially if you’re going through a time in which you’re trying to be kind to others, it won’t hurt at all to consciously set aside time to do things for yourself that make you feel as though you’ve treated yourself well. What always makes you feel better that you can start adding in to your days?
And to end, Question Three is: What is the truth of your stress, or how does it measure up against the good in your life?
Stress should not dictate your life, but it shouldn’t be undermined either. Put it into perspective by simply focusing equally (not even more, but equally) on what you have to be grateful for. I do believe there’s gratitude to be found in everything, but that’s a big jump for you right now. So try to spend time thinking on all of the good you have the same way you’re spending time thinking about your stress.
You should find that you have a lot to be grateful for that you’re disregarding right now.
And if you’re disregarding it, you’re not giving yourself a fair shot.
Thank you again to the asker for sending in a really great question that I’m sure we can all relate to in traces.
Again, my apologies for spitting a lot of bullet points at you today – this one felt a little more “list-y” than most, but that’s ok. Hopefully at least a few of my ideas help you to make some good discoveries for yourself and turn things around.
Now for everyone out there, if you’ve got a question on your mind – something you’re having a hard time with – please do send it on into us via email. Email us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Thanks once more for tuning in and listening to the end. Have a wonderful rest of your day and stop in again next time if you’d be so kind. I’ll talk to you all then. Take care everyone.