As a confession, I am a huge nerd.
Life is not going to be a tiptoe through the tulips all the time. Frodo had to walk through a lot of hardship to reach his destination. Even Jesus said, quite bluntly in fact, “in this world, you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV). Period. Not maybe. You will have trouble. I don’t know why I am surprised when things don’t go according to plan. Or when things spiral into absolute chaos. Case in point: last night my 6 month old son was tossing and turning due to a fever from his vaccines. He tossed and turned himself right out of my arms, out of the bed, and then onto the floor. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep the rest of the night. But, I managed to make it through with becoming completely neurotic. How did I do that? Read on, my young hobbits.
Understand How Stress Affects You
Stress has become a really nasty word in recent times. The idea that seems to permeate the interwebs is that the idyllic life is a life of no stress. It’s as if everyone wants to live in Rivendell forever.
And can you blame them? Though it isn’t true, it feels like today’s society is under a lot of stress all the time. A lot of us probably need a break from stress. But, stress is simply our bodies way of coping with change. Small changes happen, and that stress can actually be helpful. This is what helps us meet deadlines at work and solve problems at home. The bigger the issue, or chaos, the more cortisol and adrenaline that our bodies secrete, especially in moments of danger. This actually causes sensory input to bypass the front, and more developed, parts of our brain that is in charge of reasoning, inhibition, and forethought. This just leaves us with our primitive, instinctual brain that reacts with fight or flight – meaning we react without thinking.
Add to this that your heart rate will increase and blood pressure will go up, and your breathing will speed up. Your muscles will feel tense, ready to spring into action. And you will feel very alert and focused.
Reacting to Chaos
So, while this response can get you out trouble quickly, it is not the time to make long term decisions. So, when chaos hits, it’s important to work with your body’s response and ride out those stress hormones. Some keys during the initial stress response stage:
- Don’t make any big, longterm, or permanent decisions. Example: I can’t decide to never sleep again to ensure my son does not roll out of the bed.
- Take 3 good, big, deep breaths. This helps slow your breathing and helps your mind relax, among other things.
- Tale time to calm down. Whether its a bite of chocolate, a snuggle with a loved one, or some exercise, take the time to help those stress hormones break down in your body.
- Let your body recover, which includes getting a good night’s sleep after the chaotic event. Sleep does amazing things to repair ourselves.
After the insanity of my own chaos, the above steps helped me not overreact and come up with a game plan so that this form of chaos does not happen again. Do you have chaos going on in your life? How are you coping? Let me know!