This Tuesday at The Pink Heart Society, columnist Stefanie London tells us how she handles something we all have to deal with at some point: Stress.
You can thank me for the Salt 'n' Pepa earworm later.
Over the years, I’ve been given a lot of advice. Some of it has been good and some of it has been less useful than a sundial at night. Occasionally I get a piece of gold, a nugget of information that I put in my back pocket and keep with me always.
My primary school (or elementary school, for those in the US) teacher once said to me “Stefanie, you’re your own worst enemy. If you get out of your own way you’ll do amazing things.” I was 10. He also followed the conversation up by giving me a pink pen that had a dinosaur on top. I’ve never forgotten that conversation or that small act of kindness.
In high school I was a nerd. I was the student arguing with the teacher over my B+ (why wasn’t it an A?) and sometimes winning. I studied hard, I piled my plate high with extra activities like advanced English, ballet lessons and working 20+ hours a week.
By the time I was ready to graduate my English teacher gave me an award. THE STRESSED AWARD – In recognition of taking it all so seriously.
I do take things seriously. I do freak-out when I think the world isn’t revolving according to my plan. I cry when I feel that I don’t have control over my life.
Ahh stress. Isn’t it wonderful? (NOT).
One thing I have learned is that some stress is good. It drives you, makes you pull things out of a hat that you didn’t believe yourself capable of. Other stress is bad, it eats away at your concentration (and your good mood) and it can push you farther back than where you want to be.
My husband is an expert at dealing with crazy, stressed-out Stef. It’s not always pretty, but he gets the job done (that’s why I married him). On top of that he taught me something that I use often. It’s not a new concept, but it works for me.
The Circle of Control
I made this pretty version of the original diagram which my husband drew for me
Things which can stress us out will fall into one of three categories:
- Something we can control (e.g. how productive we are when we sit down to write)
- Something we can influence (e.g. our relationship with our publisher)
- Something we cannot control (e.g. what someone else writes about our books)
What helps determine the good and bad types of stress is where they fall on this chart. Good stress is usually something that we can control, for example: when working towards a deadline we can manage our schedules to be productive and get the story written on time. Bad stress is freaking out over a negative review or changes that happen in the publishing industry, i.e. things that won’t improve simply because we’re stressed.
As a writer we don’t usually have someone right there to talk to and Facebook is not always the place for venting these frustrations. It can be an isolating job (fantastic as it is 99% of the time). By focusing our energy onto the things we can control in a situation we’re able to make sure we’re giving our attention to the write things.
Next time you’re feeling stressed look at this diagram and work out where your problem lies. Are there aspects that fall into your control? Is there anything you can influence to get the outcome you want? Or is it something that you have no control over and therefore there are other things you could be doing?
In the heat of the moment it can be tough to think logically. If I’m really freaking out I’ll often go an make a cup of tea, call my husband to vent or let myself do something fun for a few minutes (hello Pintrest!) until I can think more clearly.
Have you ever used the circle of control before? What are your top tips for managing stress?
Stefanie's latest release Breaking The Bro Code is out now!
Off limits…and oh-so-tempting!
Elise Johnson has more important things to concentrate on than men…saving her struggling ballet studio for starters! So when gorgeous Col Hillam—her brother’s best friend—saunters back into her life, she’s none too keen. He might be proposing a purely professional arrangement, but the last time they got carried away by their crazy attraction it ended in disaster!
Col knows Elise is off-limits, but it only makes her more tempting…. With chemistry this hot, surely that bro code is now null and void…?