Have you ever been waiting in line for a cuppa something at the local cafe?
The line’s not too long, but the friendly conversation between the barista and the customer in front of you, is.
You look at your watch, and now only have a few minutes to get to your appointment. Then, wham. Caught in a moment of stressful irritation.
OK. That’s totally me.
And when my thoughts are bypassing my cerebral cortex and going straight to reptilian brain, I’m no longer in thinking mode. My jaw sets, my eyes narrow and I simply react. Usually badly. And worse, though I wish it were true, I know they are not responsible for my trigger.
Of course this example is a minor situation compared with many of the bigger stressors we face in health care.
But often it’s the constant mini irritations that you, your patients, family members and I all face throughout the day that build and build until we reach a level of stress in which it eventually leaks out somewhere.
Unless you start paying attention to the ones which really get to you.
Here are some of the common stress triggers. Add yours to the list.
- Time crunches–too much to do and not enough time to do it.
- Interruptions–just when you begin to focus, someone asks for attention.
- Frustrations–computer is not letting you in or going so s.l.o.w.l.y.
- Challenging Communications–negative co-workers or upset client/patient.
One problem with stress triggers is that they’re not scheduled into our day. And we’re not tracking how often we’re triggered or how tense we’re getting. And so our reactions, a sigh, rolled eyes or snapping, might take us and others by surprise.
The moment of a stress trigger attack is not the time to analyze, judge it’s merits or to defend your ground. This is the moment to not do anything.
Your mind will want to work out a counter attack (remember, though you won’t think you are, you are in lizard brain).
The one thing you can do, is breathe.
Stay with your breath. Over and over again.
In this moment, your only effort is to keep from re-triggering yourself. Never mind what the trigger is or how right you feel you are. You’ll have time later to reflect and understand.
This moment is the time to stay and recommit to staying with your breath.
Where’s the Gold?
It’s within you. Each time you are triggered into frustration, anger, anxiety, insomnia (to name a few) is an opportunity to use your stress to teach you how cultivate more peace of mind.
Crazy, but true.
It takes a particular practice to stop replaying difficult encounters, emotions and worries. I’m sure you’ve made efforts many times.
Unfortunately, most often those emotions don’t get released, they get buried to rise up again another day.
Today, take time during your day and see what encounters trip your stress triggers. This is an invaluable first step to mining the gold of greater ease, peace and joy at work.