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Last Friday we got the word from our landlord that our office needed to be temporarily relocated. And we had 9 days to get it done. It was news that really let loose a stress reaction in me. The news wasn’t life or death, but it represented an enormous amount of pressure and headache and an endless list of details, many of which I initially felt sure I would forget. My body revved up and I could feel the stress hormone pumping through every inch of me.  I’d describe it as anxiety mixed with dread and a generous heap of anger on top. I was charged up in a lot of ways, but all that stress hormone flooding my body actually helped me in the end. I saw myself, over the course of a couple of hours move from “this is impossible!” to, “okay, let’s get going.”

Kelly McGonigal describes this remarkable capacity to shift in her book, The Upside of Stress:

threat response primes you to defend yourself. You anticipate physical or other kinds of harm and your body gets ready. A challenge response primes you for performance without preparing for harm, per se..” (p.111)

A threat response is exactly what we need in the face of harm, but in many of our situations, our body responds as if we were threatened when, in actuality, we are merely being challenged. The good news is that we can train ourselves towards a challenge response and away from a threat response by quickly reviewing the resources we have available to us when we face something really difficult. Any my, have we been facing a lot of difficult situations in the last two years. How might it look to employ the “resource review” to our current situations? Here are a few resources that many of us may have discovered during pandemic living:

  • We have proven to be very adaptable
  • We have learned to say “no” and “maybe”
  • We are more open to asking for help
  • We are taking mental and emotional health more seriously
  • We have employed unbelievable creativity

 

We are in the temporary office space now and all of the work is behind us. The initial anxiety and threat feel like a distant memory and I feel proud about the way it all came together. We are far more capable than we think in moments of threat. Let’s not forget that.

One Comment

  1. Good words indeed! The new space looks wonderful. I am taking your message and am trying to apply it to the reactions (anger, despair, feeling unable to help/support) I have had to the invasion of Ukraine. Praying is ongoing; will look for opportunities to lend support.

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