Do you ever feel stressed even when good things are happening? Does it make you feel that you don’t have time for other things? I go thru that phase from time to time when too many good things are happening. Let me share a recent example and the tools that helped me. They may benefit you too.
I believe that too much of anything is not good.
The right amount of salt makes food tasty, too much of salt can spoil the food.
A small amount of sugar can make things sweet, too much -will make it bitter.
The right mix of color would make a painting attractive, too much and it can make it unattractive.
Similarly, good things can bring joy, yet too many good things happening at the same time can bring stress. We call it positive stress — the stress of positive things.
Pressure or Stress, even when positive, can cause some adverse effects.
You want good things happening. Right? So how do you enjoy them without causing stress?
Recently, I had several positive events happening in my life.
In the last six weeks, I gave two keynotes speeches to health care professionals in Chicago and Atlanta. I love making a difference by giving these keynotes. The sessions went wonderful, and I made so many new friends and affected so many lives. The ripple effect of which is going to help thousands of people. That is a good thing, but the travel, disturbance of routine, and delay of other responsibilities brought extra stress.
I felt like I don’t have enough time (I think most people feel like that sometimes). My mind was too active and that affected my sleep. So, I did the self-dialogue journal (a technique in the book Stress to Joy). I asked myself, what would I tell my patients if they were feeling what I was feeling. I had to practice what I teach.
I applied the Stress to Joy formula to my situation and felt much better.
Everything outside is the same, but now I feel calmer. I can enjoy as things are unfolding.
What helped me?
First I acknowledged that I am feeling positive stress. I became aware of the excessive mental stimulation and disturbance of routine. I noticed the effect on my sleep.
So, I made an intentional effort to calm my mind and body. I took a relaxing bath, practiced the feet to floor exercise and became mindful.
Then I reflected by journaling.
First, I recognized that I was saying I feel that I don’t have time. What I meant was that I don’t have enough time to do the things I need and want to do.
I realized that time could not be enough or not enough unless it was there. There is time; therefore it is not enough. If there were no time, there wouldn’t be any shortage right?
So, I felt gratitude for the time I had. (I had heard that a colleague who was of my age had passed away that weekend. She did not have time. I do have time.)
Second, I recognized that I was focusing on many things that I am not able to do. I realized that I was not able to do those things, because I was doing other things.
I shifted my focus to things I was able to do.
( This technique is called OFI-Opportunities for Improvement in the book- Stress to Joy. Briefly, before you focus on what you are not able to achieve, you appreciate what you can do. Then you focus on the barriers that prevent you from reaching the rest. That way, you can take steps to remove the obstacles and take action to complete the rest).
Although I was not able to take care of the business, as usual, I was able to impact so many people. These health care professionals and friends are going to impact so many more improve their lives. I did come close to my purpose in life.
Third, I recognized that I was feeling guilty for not doing all the work I had planned on doing during my long flights. I realized that even though I didn’t do things that I expected, I had other opportunities like I met some fantastic people at the airport and on the flight.
Relaxing my mind was possible by resting, watching a movie and writing in my diary. All these things helped me in some ways or another.
Even though external circumstances didn’t change, I was able to transform feelings of stress into feelings of joy. Could you make simple mind shifts like this to do the same?
If you go through positive stress at times and feel that you don’t have enough time, acknowledge, calm down and reflect. Remind yourself that:
You have time; therefore, it feels short. Give thanks for the time you have.
You are not able to do certain things because you are doing other things.
Appreciate that and then prioritize for the future.
Things may not go as planned, but there may be other things that happen, learn from those experiences.
I hope this helps you.
In my next article, I’ll share a technique called Priorities of the Day. It can help you focus on things that matter from the long list of to-do’s that you may have to do each day.
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Let me know what you found most useful and if you have any questions.
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I share many tools and techniques that I have found to be helpful. They are not intended to replace treatments. Please seek treatment from licensed medical or health professionals as needed. I change all names for privacy.