How Are You Doing??
By Kim Knight | Oct 31, 2022
How are You Doing?
Tips For Stress Management
By Stephanie Barbee, MSW, LCSW
Photo by Pixababy
Historically, that’s always been a complicated question and in 2022, that complexity seems exponential. In other words, it’s hella hard out here for EVERYBODY! “How are you doing?” is rarely truly “ok,” “good,” or “well” as most of us automatically respond. The truth is, there are tons of things in the world that add intense amounts of stress. Many of us feel weighed down by many things that slowing down seems like the hardest thing to do. Yet, to be “ok,” “good,” or “well”, we have to choose to slow down.
Overall best care for ourselves includes being intentional about what we eat, think, and act at most moments. If you’re like me, that sounds so overwhelmingly intimidating that you want to click away from anything that suggests that to you. I feel you! I was the same way. So, I’m going to give you just one bite-sized piece of the puzzle today, that you can take and apply in small ways.
Today’s puzzle piece will be about mindset, how we think we’re doing matter. It might be that you apply one of these techniques once a week, setting an alarm or putting it as a task on your calendar. Or you prefer to practice all three for a limited time. Whatever you choose, remember that consistency is key. In a world where moving fast and hustling hard to be rewarded, it takes time to build the muscle of slowing down to speed up.
The three parts we’re going to talk about are:
- E.Q. (effective questioning)
- B.P.T. (big picture thinking)
- A.Y.E. (adjusting your expectation)
When we feel stressed, most of us tend to do this automatic thing of stressing about stressing. That is, we tend to add to the feelings by asking ourselves questions that convince us we’re the problem. We think we can’t be the solution if we’re the problem. What’s more helpful is to ask ourselves questions that lead us closer to the solution instead of deeper into the problem. Questions like:
- How can I deal with this stress in a way that helps me instead of hurts me?
- How can I be aware of when I’m making my stress worse?
- What will bring me closer to peace and harmony at this moment?
One thing I know from experience is how fluid time can seem. When I’m enjoying something “time flies” and when I’m not it “drags.” Have you ever had this experience? If so, you might be able see why it’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever. If you’re like me, this isn’t always the easiest thing to know how to do. Tunnel vision when we’re feeling backed against the wall is common. Some questions you can ask yourself to help look at the bigger picture include:
- Will this really matter in the next 3 years?
- If this doesn’t turn out the way I imagine, will it make a real, negative difference in my life?
- What’s the worst that could happen?
- If I step back, is it really as bad as it seems?
- In the next week, 5 years, or 10 years, what will I think and feel when I look back at this situation?
Are you a perfectionist? Do you feel less anxious about being in control? Do you trust yourself to be the main person to “get it done right”? If so, you may be inflexible. Inflexibility isn’t negative, it usually means that we were unable to trust those around us to take care of us or make us feel cared for. How can we adjust our standards? We can consider other perspectives. Just because someone failed you in the past doesn’t mean everyone will fail you. Plus, you still have the final say in how you handle a situation. It can be helpful to consider how others have managed in ways you may not have even considered. It can also help to peek at the positive. When we peek at the positive, we can be reenergized to act. It’s so true that our minds are our own worst enemies sometimes. How can we start to make a change? We can ask:
- How can I look at this differently?
- What might be ironic or funny about this that I haven’t noticed?
- How would someone I admire see this situation differently? What would they do?
I know that it’s hard to slow down with so many demands. So many feelings that seem impossible to make space for. However, when we allow ourselves to ask effective questions during times of stress, look at the bigger picture, and adjust our expectations to see the stress differently, we take steps toward more effectively dealing with stress. Remember, it’s ok to give yourself permission to find solutions to suffering and stress. So next time, someone asks you “how you are doing?” you can answer “ok,” “good,” or “well” for real.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie Barbee is a Clinical social worker in Missouri. She serves Black people across the sexual identity and gender identity spectrum seeking to approach therapy from a holistic (mind-body-spirit) perspective or explore spirituality more deeply. She can be found on the clinicians of color directory here: https://www.cliniciansofcolor.org/clinicians/spectrum-of-healing-llc/