There are times – and for some of us, that is now – that seem like we are sizzling in a skillet of stress. There are other times when our stressors feel like they are on a low burn or warming mode. If you are an avid chef ( which I desperately wish I was but am not ), you know sometimes, you need to take the lid off to reduce the heat. When cooking, you use heat to mediate the task, the decrease in temperature modifies the environment to get results.
We can use tools in our environment, the same way, to mediate the heat (stress) index. We want to keep the stress in our environment at a specified level, and we want to modify it to enhance our results. Our brain and body functions best with moderate levels of stress. In that pocket, we are motivated to achieve but are not impaired. This is important to know and risky to manage. As on the stove, it is very easy to char broil ourselves without even meaning to.
If you have ever gotten too hot in the pot, one way of cooling things down – quickly – is to take the lid off. This mechanism is rapid and immediately reduces the steam and pressure. Sometimes sliding the lid gently and slowly off to the side is not enough. That is true for all of us. There are times we must release the pressure and stressors rapidly and immediately.
In these cases, we have to take drastic and immediate measures, and they need to be powerful alterations in our environment. These taking the lid off moments require us to expend and release, express and digest and create a newly shaped environmental surrounding. For many of us we need to release a great deal of energy in these moments and there are a few known and effective strategies.
We may need to…
- move at a pace that gets our heart rate up high and sustain that expenditure until we are tuckered out.
- get angry/sad/disappointed/and express that level of feeling.
- be moved deeply by an alternative experience that changes our perspective, so meaningfully, that we can no longer sit in the same space.
Sometimes taking the lid off of our stressors can feel scary or we might feel resistance to it. This is a normal response to feeling stressed. It is hard to make decisions when we are feeling overly stressed and yet, that is a critical moment to take the lid off.
- Prepare your taking the lid off list of actions before you need them, you will need them close at hand when you are on fire.
- Have compassion with yourself for the way you are when you are sizzling and need to take the lid off. There are times when we are not our best selves when we are too hot.
- Reiterate with yourself the knowledge that when you need to take the lid off, be drastic. There are times for moderation, but when you are burning, that is not the time.
- Remember you will get better and better, after practice, at letting the steam out more continuously and slowly but when initially flaming, it will not happen like that.
Read the opposite coping skill – Keeping The Lid On