It’s hard to explain the feeling we get when something shakes our foundation. It’s an empty dread fuelled by a flood of stress hormones. A mix between wanting to vomit and our insides instantly evacuating.
Despite our best efforts to avoid these catastrophic reactions, most things in life can’t be controlled, so we will eventually get rocked.
Here is a quick 10-point checklist that you can keep handy to better surf these moments.
1. Pause. Create space. Center. Then dial things down with the breath. Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 protocol is a good place to start. Breathe in through the nose for 4, hold for 7, and forcefully breathe out through the mouth for 8. Repeat 4-6 times.
2. Move vigorously for a short time. Do 5 burpees? Sprint down the street? Quick, aggressive activity will quickly help normalize our internal chemical environment.
3. Get perspective from a trusted friend. But don’t share your stress beyond this one person unless they can immediately help you execute your plan. Often times over-sharing can fuel a victim mentality, which can demotivate action.
4. Make a list of what you can control, and what you can’t.
5. Park all the things you can’t control, and let them let go.
6. Of the things you can control, devise a plan of action.
7. Can you do the first thing? If so, do it now.
8. To help fuel the feeling of self-compassion, perform a metta meditation. Focus first on a loved one, then on yourself.
9. Take action on all the remaining items you can immediately action.
10. Once you have taken action, if you still feel you need support, reach out to others with a renewed sense of agency.