By Lynn Miller, Advanced Level WRAP Facilitator
I am one of those individuals who tends to commit to way too many requests in my professional life.
It’s not because I can’t say no; most times it’s because I love the work and introducing WRAP to others. However, what happens is that I commit to additional projects and find myself becoming very stressed about accomplishing impossible tasks. I feel overwhelmed and struggle with self-esteem, because I am concerned that others may think I can’t do the work.
The end result is that the work I love to do becomes a stressor. Once I began to apply WRAP to my professional life, I found that honoring myself and applying the WRAP Personal Bill of Rights gave me permission to practice self-advocacy, recognize stressors, identify early warning signs, identify supporters at my place of employment, and build an action plan that supported my wellness.
Introspectively, I needed to identify where these feelings of low personal image originated. My WRAP gave me insight into how early trauma influenced my self-esteem and my need to prove my worth to others.
You see, experiencing multiple abandonments as a youth led me to believe I didn’t have much value. I was trying to prove to the world that I was someone and that I had worth by being an overachiever.
Once I began applying my “Work WRAP,” I noticed that I was less stressed, more at peace, and more effective in my work. What I feared happening did not need to be a fear at all once I began applying self-advocacy and holding myself in unconditional high regard.
In fact, my supervisor supported me, my coworkers offered support, and my overall wellness improved. In reality, I didn’t need to prove I had worth by taking on more than I could handle; I had worth simply because I am an individual—I am enough.
Applying the WRAP values, key concepts and action planning to my work life has also improved my personal life and significantly enhanced my self-esteem, which allows me to be the very best version of myself.
Now when I prepare for the workday ahead, my Work WRAP is front and center and is the “personal policy” I respect and honor.
What Can You Do to Bust Your Life Stressors?
Working on your WRAP and always having it accessible in pamphlet/workbook/journal or any other format is an excellent way to overall address stress. Here are a few stress-relieving tools you can add to your wellness toolbox:
Get quiet. When the brain gets in a worry loop, it can feel impossible to shut off the words and thoughts running in your brain. Take 5 minutes and sit on the floor, or a surface away from your desk. Then, LOOK UP for 30 seconds. If you look up, just focus on the ceiling or sky and whatever you see there. It helps quiet your brain and lets your heart rate slow down. Looking up can quiet your critical inner voice.
Get present. Another worry loop buster is to close your eyes and try to focus only on what you hear, smell, and feel around you. It often helps to breathe in through your nose and exhale slowly through the mouth. Do this for a few minutes to slow down your breathing and get more focused on your body and the present moment than your fast-moving inner thoughts. Being fully grounded in the present can help shut off worries about the future and the past.
Get tactile. Get out of your head and into your senses. Do something tactile, such as popping bubble wrap or the new sensory bubble pop toys, squeezing a stress ball or squishy toy, planting a flower and digging in the dirt, petting a dog, crushing a raw egg in the sink, ripping up paper, sucking on something sour, using a weighted blanket, or anything else that engages your physical senses and helps ground and calm you.
Get physical. Take 5 minutes to do a quick, intense exercise activity—bounce up and down (in a chair or standing), dance with abandon, practice some boxing punches or kicks, stretch, or take a short walk outside. Release some of the pent-up stress and create some happy-feeling endorphins.
Get relaxed. Find a short calming meditation on your computer or a phone app, close your eyes, and let your brain and body slow down for a few minutes. Try to move your head around in a circular motion and move your shoulders up and down a few times to release the tight muscles. If you have an eye mask that shuts out light, use it; even better if you can heat it up and just shut out everything but the feeling of warmth on your eyes and the sounds around you. Turn on music or nature sounds you enjoy, such as ocean waves or rain, and just listen as you close your eyes and relax.
Get cooking. Creating lets you to be in the moment. For example, try out a new recipe. Pick something that takes some concentration and time to chop ingredients. Turn on some music that brings you joy, sing along, and experiment with meal creation. This can take the focus off a difficult day, get you back in the present, and into the act of creativity.
Get creative. Grab some blank paper and some colored pencils, pens, or crayons and draw your feelings. They don’t have to look like anything real—after all, feelings are abstract. Or write words in colors that express how you feel right now. Get it all out on paper!
Get out. Sometimes the environment we are in fills us with stress, dread, worry, fear, anger, or annoyance. Allow yourself 15-30 (or more) minutes to LEAVE that space. Go for a walk or a drive to clear your head, remove yourself from stressful or toxic energy, and look for something beautiful or interesting to focus on.
Get happy. What makes you laugh or feel joyful? Is there a song that makes you smile? A video clip that makes you laugh out loud? A person whose voice brings you joy? A memory that reminds you why life is beautiful? A quote that boosts your spirits? Make a list of these things and put them in your wellness toolbox. When you need a mood boost or stress buster, take 5 minutes to focus on one of your joy triggers.
What are your favorite stress busters? Share them on the WRAP Facebook Page