How to handle stressful times (and 8 life lessons I learned from my craziest week ever)

You may have noticed that I normally post on Thursdays. Last week, I didn’t.

Joseph CampbellThat’s because I’ve had the craziest week, possibly in the history of my life. Going from a personal crisis to working 12-hour days at my day job with little to no recovery time to a few smaller logistical crisis moments was, ahem, tough.

So I did what I would want you to do. I honored myself.

I ignored conventional “wisdom” and did not strictly enforce regularity. Instead of forcing myself to sacrifice sleep or the quality of a post that would go up on Link to Yourself, I put myself and you first.

I didn’t pretend that I had it all together. I let myself fall apart. As I’m sitting here now, picking up the pieces, recovering, sleeping and resting, I have time to reflect and energy to write.

So, for you, my dear readers and viewers, here are the key habits that will help you navigate stressful times much better than I did:

1. Be prepared

I come up with ideas for videos and posts all the time, but I usually film/write them right before they go up. I like having this much flexibility as I can change things around in the format of my coffee chats and I don’t have to wait to do it.

But I’ve been feeling less liberated and more restrained by that recently. Recording these videos every week means that every week I have to prepare a topic, come up with some ideas for what to say, find a good, sunny day to record, and take the time to set up my camera and everything else I need to shoot.

That only takes away from my ability to do other things, like work with coaching clients or create helpful products and courses for you (which I’m brimming with ideas for!)

Instead, what I’m going to do is dedicate a whole week to thinking up topics for videos and writing down ideas, and a day recording. Make-up only gets done once (can you tell I’m a sweatpant girl?), and I save a lot of time.

The bonus is that I usually record much better after a practice try or two. So you will hopefully get a better version of me as well ;)

2. If you’re not prepared, don’t sweat it

This week, I got caught red-handed. I didn’t have any time to shoot the video, I was too exhausted to write anything up, and I even forgot my password to my site when I tried to log in and post an old post that had been sleeping in my Drafts.

Yes, I will admit that I got frustrated. I really wanted to be consistent. I wanted to do the right thing for my website, as I’ve been told by so many “experts”. I wanted to “have it all together”.

But then I realized that, no, I don’t have to have it all together. This is a website about authenticity and intuitive living. What kind of a hypocrite am I if I try to teach you to be vulnerable and authentic, and yet I put on a better-than-me mask?

So I didn’t sweat it. Once I realized that my password was probably hidden in a part of my brain I didn’t have enough energy to access (kind of like when your phone battery is too low to take pictures with your camera, y’know?), I let it go, and shook it off.

In fact, I had written a big chunk of this post on Friday. I really wanted to post it then. But my brain ran out of fuel. And it stayed that way for the entire weekend. Once I got tired of re-writing the same sentence five bajillion times, I finally gave up – there was just no way I was going to put out this post and deliver the kind of quality I’m committed to delivering. I needed rest.

The bonus is, I got a wonderful opportunity to put myself out there and pretend to be nothing more than the messy human being that I am – and I know that’s the best way I can honor myself and you, my dear readers.

3. Ask for help

If it hadn’t been for my friends, husband, and family, you would probably have to hoist me up from the inside of a volcano I had thrown myself into. Because, friends, last week shit got really real, really fast. I felt so overwhelmed, not only on a physical, I-have-so-much-to-do-when-am-I-ever-going-to-sleep level, but especially on a spiritual and mental level.

I felt like I had completely lost myself.

So, once again, I did what I would advise any one of my clients to do: ask for help.

And help came. (Oh, how grateful I am for that.)

My husband cleaned, worked, listened, and became a hug bank; my friends listened to me bitch and whine and bitched right along with me; my parents sent me overhyped encouragements, hope, and praise only parents can deliver; and God, well… God was right there by my side every day, listening to my prayers and carrying me in His arms.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t try to do it yourself. That’s an illusion. That’s your ego whispering naughty things in your ear. You can’t do it yourself. The only way growth happens is through love.

Love means loving yourself enough to recognize you need some help. Love also means loving those around you enough to give them a chance to support and love you in return.

4. Take it easy

We’re used to instant gratification. As a result, when we’re sick, once things get a little better we want to be back to 100% – and we want to be there, like, yesterday.

I certainly wanted to. That’s why I wrote a big chunk of this post on Friday. ONE DAY after things got a little better.

Little did I know, my body and soul had other plans.

After a stressful time, don’t expect to jump right back into your day-to-day life and expect yourself to perform at 100%. You won’t. Instead, you will remain at less than 100% for much longer than if you took some additional time to relax and recover.

Kind of like little ol’ me. Who is still not fully recovered. But my creativity is knocking back on my door, asking me to finally publish this.

So take care of yourself right after a stressful time. Cancel any big engagements and instead plan to relax. Eat lots of good healthy food, and do what you need to do in order to find your balance again.

5. Learn the lessons

Life is a journey, and every experience also brings with it a lesson. If we keep our eyes open, we can take the best from everything that happens to us and continue to grow into the person we’re meant to be.

Let me list out a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the past week:

  1. I identify too much with my actions and opinions (Helloooo, ego! Nice to see you now that I’ve opened my eyes to my own shortcomings again. We’ve got some work to do!)
  2. I have the most amazing husband, family, and friends I could ever ask for.
  3. When I get mad at someone else, I’m really mad at myself. Time to check in with my ego.
  4. I’m incurably klutzy and forgetful. Thankfully, I’m also practical and creative. I also love people and thus wiggle my way into their hearts with some semblance of agility. Thank God for that gift. Otherwise I may have been asking you for spare change at the corner of a lonely street.
  5. Regarding #4: My husband is, thankfully, very organized and has his head on his shoulders. And, again, thankfully, he’s glad to take the lead. Thank you.
  6. I’m lucky, lucky, lucky. Life truly brings me exactly the experiences I need. The good, and the bad. I have recently had the profound understanding that everything that has ever happened to me has actually helped me grow. Wow. I am beyond grateful.
  7. My messy creativity can only take me so far. It’s time to enforce some time management strategies. It’s not that I don’t know what to do, it’s that I’m enjoying messiness too much to get myself organized. But even organization can be good for the soul, when it’s done intuitively.
  8. I have so much yet to learn about life. And yet, that doesn’t mean that I’m not capable of helping and coaching others. The secret is dropping all expectations, and putting yourself out there even if you don’t feel ready. Because, let’s face it, I will never feel ready. But it’s high time to stop ignoring my gifts and start offering them to the world. (Look out for a coaching page in the near future!)
  9. I have the most wonderful readers, who actually noticed that I had missed my schedule. Thank you! I love you, every single one of you, and I’m so grateful that you make time for my ramblings and insights in your busy day. Your sweet messages in return endlessly bless mine.

I’m sure I have many more stressful weeks and crisis moments to go through, but I welcome them all as the growth experiences they are meant to be.

How do you survive crazy times?

Be fearless.
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Comments

  1. Hi Laura
    Thank you for being human and honest. You have not given up and that is the biggest thing. I did not take time out of my business when I needed to and had a big set back.
    You need to look after yourself so that you can help others. When you fly they announce that in case of an emergency, ‘put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then help others’.
    You have to be happy yourself to make others happy. You have a wonderful family and friends. They always rally round you like they have with me.
    Keep honouring yourself.
    Raj
    XOXO

    • Raj, thank you for your kind words! Absolutely, it’s so important to help yourself before you can help others, just as it’s important to love yourself before you can truly love others. In the end, the most important thing is to learn from our experiences, and it sounds like you’ve done plenty of that as well. Rock on! XOXO

  2. Oh, those crazy weeks! I think it’s a real victory to accept them and move with them rather than fight. But I typically start out with the fight! I have to observe myself and realizing all the ways I will lose if I continue to try to enforce normal life on the crazy times. Congratulations on not sacrificing yourself to meet some predetermined view of what the week should look like.

    • Absolutely, Judy! I started out with a fight as well. It took a minor drama queen moment (really, Laura, it’s NOT that big of a deal if you don’t post today…) for me to realize what was really important: authenticity, and honoring my intuition. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for sharing No 3 ASK if the hardest one for me plus taking time out- when we take time out we see things from a new perspective.
    I find for me meditation, reading and listening to stuff that empowers and picking up my paintbrush along with a beach walk all give me balance and a fresh look at the so called”drama”

    • Suzie, thank you for commenting! Asking for help is hard for everyone, especially nowadays when we’re so used to doing everything on our own. Sometimes we forget how much pleasure others derive from helping us! Oh, and I love meditating, reading, and going on long walks to clear my head! And I’m jealous of your painting skills… I’m a terrible failure at art :)

  4. Authenticity and vulnerability – 2 great traits that you obviously possess. As a coach I think it is so hard sometimes to “practice what we preach” as it makes us feel inadequate, like how can I help others do this if I haven’t already MASTERED it. Good for you for taking some down time and tending to your needs!

    • Thank you, Laura! Oh my goodness, yes! It’s so hard to “practice what you preach”. I cringed before I posted this because I was worried people would say “well if you don’t have it all together, why do you expect me to think you can help me?” but I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive response.

  5. What really helps me in times of crisis is that, distant as this might seem at the moment, there has to be an end to it and in fact, there should be something to look forward to. I think a crisis is just “a part of the package” of life, along with its joys and supremely beautiful moments.
    All the best to you, Laura! I really liked your candidness and letting yourself be YOU.

    • Karo, you are so right. Sometimes it’s so hard to hold on to that light at the end of the tunnel, but we must. And we also must look at where we are now and find the silver lining, as tiny as it may be. Thank you so much!

  6. This is beautiful. I’m fascinated that what I took away at my first read was an affirmation the principle “Be easy on yourself,” because it is definitely a lesson I am teaching myself today. Thank you Laura!

  7. Well done for listening to your own advice! Can be hard to do when we get stressed! Thanks for sharing your steps for us to follow too x

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