Just thinking of it now--gifts for teachers, family and friends, hosting/cooking, preparing for travel, work deadlines--makes me breathe a little faster and makes my mood a little more anxious and irritable.
This stress is real and there’s no point in pretending it’s not. Managing it will require that we stay organized and efficiently use our time in the next weeks. But it’s not only about time management; it’s just as important for us to think of the ways we can take charge of the hectic worlds inside our minds. Sometimes if we guide our thoughts in more helpful ways it will help us slow things down and not spiral into panic.
One of my favorite tools for managing stress is imagery. I don’t necessarily use a long or elaborate guided imagery exercise; instead, I pick just one image that I will call into my mind when I feel myself getting anxious or overwhelmed. Along with a mantra or calming phrase, bringing the image into awareness can help stop my anxiety from going from 0 to 80 when I think about my to-do list.
Below are a few of my favorite images that I use in times of stress, as well as the calming phrases I use when I visualize them.
"I am grounded and solid, even if there is a
storm around me. I can handle this."
"Every step I take, even if it's small, helps me make progress."
"I'm just riding the waves right now, as best I can.
I may fall off but I can get back up again."