Last year at this time I faced two huge stressors in my life which became massive emotional distractions.
The biggest stress was finding out that our dog, Reggie, had lymphoma and had weeks to live.
The second major stress was the loss of weekly accountability coaching, due to the closure of a business coaching group I had been part of since June 2015.
With respect to the coaching calls, touching base with other business entrepreneurs on a weekly basis really helped me to focus and stay on track with what I needed to do to grow my business. Sharing stories, working through solutions, and getting feedback are a necessary part of that journey.
With respect to Reggie, I was having a very hard time. Emotionally, I tend towards worry and dealing with his mortality (he wasn’t even three years old) took all my emotional strength and fortitude to keep centred. I was being compassionate towards myself and my partner, but at the same time my stress was increasing, because my business productivity had dramatically decreased.
I allowed myself too many distractions at home from randomly browsing the Internet, reading articles, or mindlessly browsing the internet. I was well aware of what was happening, looking for every possible medium to give myself short-term pleasure or complete distraction to numb myself from the coming painful emotional loss of our beloved dog.
Some people seem to work no matter what is going on in their life, but for me the greater my personal stress, the less I’m able to concentrate and focus. This, in fact, is an expected consequence of the fight or flight response. The intelligent brain shuts down as a response to extreme stress. Ironically at this time, while studying for my Precision Nutrition Level 2 Coaching certification, I was learning about strategies for dealing with focus and distraction. Thank you, Universe!
Health-wise these two big stressors were having a major negative impact. I was eating far more carbs than usual, inhaling desserts, and drinking more alcohol. It’s not that I had a problem, instead I was “enjoying” a few drinks per week whereas previously I would have had none. My sleep also sucked, since we were often woken up by Reggie howling in pain, or we had to rush him outside at 3am so that he could go pee (after he had already done so all over the floor).
We tend to naturally get up between 5:30 and 6 AM. It takes a while for my body and brain to warm up. That’s usually the time I have a coffee and would spend about 30 minutes reading and studying. Another change was how much coffee I was drinking. I’d have an espresso before breakfast, one with breakfast, another before 10 AM, and maybe another one in the early afternoon. I know this was not helping! I’d be buzzing with caffeine, browsing online, on my phone checking emails, the news, the weather, the blah blah blah bullshit.
Not sure where I read this, or who suggested it, but one morning I did a “What if?” exercise. The purpose of the exercise is to ask a question in the form of the solution to a current challenge or bad habit. The intent is more the feeling state you want to achieve, as opposed to the actions themselves. This is what I came up with:
“What if I woke up and took good care of my body and nourished it with adequate time to fully wake up? What if I slowly fed my body and mind with healthy nutrients to provide controlled energy, clarity, focus, and calmness?”
I could prepare a soothing tea made with fresh ginger and blend that with spinach, Greens+, fresh lemon juice, and protein powder. After slowly enjoying this healthy breakfast, and reading to improve my mind, I could get dressed and go to my neighbourhood gym for a workout.
To commit to this routine I had to believe that those early morning actions were my top priorities. I wanted to commit to the routine for two weeks. I’d tried before and failed, but a past failure doesn’t mean I can’t succeed in the future. Sometimes the original motivation for making a change isn’t quite right or powerful enough to follow through.
One morning after Christiaan and Reggie came back from their walk, Reggie ate his breakfast and as soon as he laid down he began to groan in pain. He couldn’t get comfortable. He kept shifting his body, trying not to press on the growth inside of him, and then he started his open-mouth pain howl. That sound broke my heart and sent cold shivers through my skin every single time. Everything after that was a chaotic, emotional distraction.
All I could manage was to sit down and journal to get clear on how I could work through the emotional stress and somehow still be productive.
What about you? Has this ever happened to you?
How did you deal with it?