During times of calm it’s easy to envision letting a situation just roll off your back. It’s during challenging times when all bets are off!
However, your body and mind function more optimally, and thus better equipped to manage the difficult times when you dig deep and find the strength to go with the flow.
Blood pressure and respiratory systems stay in check. Muscles remain relaxed instead of clenched, and your ability to maintain a clear and focused mind more likely.
Easier said than done!
Bob and I went to Paris (where his brother has relocated) over Thanksgiving. In the taxi from the airport to the apartment where we planned to stay for 4 nights, Bob suddenly recalled that the Paris Rento’s have a cat. Bob is highly allergic to cats, so much so that between the allergens and antihistamines his cognitive function becomes delirium. He felt so awful on our second night he literally left the restaurant without eating or drinking (Bob never skips a meal, or refuses the opportunity for a glass of nice French wine!). Within 24 hours of entering the apartment, we moved into a hotel.
Poor guy let that cat-thing roll off his back, but I suggest that may not have been the ideal time to practice patience and put on a stiff upper lip.
Alternatively, cut to a NYC traffic jam and that same guy goes from 0 to a no-holds-barred 1,000 instantaneously. Perhaps a situation where the “roll of the back” attitude better accessed?
What are your hot buttons and when are you better served to let a circumstance go?
There’s no easy answer and it definitely varies by individual.
But here’s the trick: You likely are aware of your own hot buttons. When presented with a familiar tension-soaring instance, small tweaks to your reactionary habits CAN slowly shift how you manage the situation, and thus the impact on your long-term health.
When you know something will cause your body to revolt, instead of reacting the same old usual way (with a likely negative result), stop and observe; take a breath, experiment with a new course of action and note the outcome.
In Bob's traffic example, he's experimenting with listening to podcasts and audiobooks to ease the stress.
Be strategic in your practice.
For example, put the smallest amount of bell peppers into a dish and I get immediate indigestion. So many fabulous grab-and-go meals have peppers in them, but even the smell causes a negative reaction in my body. I’ve had well-meaning wait staff or friends tell me, “Oh, just pick them out,” but once the pepper touches anything on the plate it’s tainted. For years I would eat them anyway for fear of offending my host, but I have come to realize how ridiculous that is. Going with the flow in that situation literally causes my body strong distress, so I (politely) decline. Always.
Other times, I’m totally malleable like when during earlier said trip to Paris we were stuck in a bite-sized elevator for 45 minutes. None of us are claustrophobic, so with nowhere to go until rescued, what could we do but laugh, take selfies and strip down to fewer clothes?
The point is, once again you have the power. Use it, mold it, manipulate it! What can you do in a challenging situation to avoid escalating it into a blood pressure rising, shallow-breathing inducing, and adrenal releasing surge of health risks? Please share your go-to tips and tricks, and experiment with new ones.
Our stress response system is necessary to protect us from real danger. Constantly turning it on when there is no real life-threatening risk leads to chronic disease, especially as we age. With just a bit of thoughtful recalibration, and strategically going with the flow, you will change that outcome (and perhaps be more pleasant to be around).
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™