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Stressed to the Limit?

Posted Jan 19 2012 6:00am

SteamThis morning, I stumbled into my kitchen to cook breakfast, only to remember that there’s nothing in the kitchen. All the cooking utensils, plates, and bowls are scattered throughout my living room right now, and none of the cupboards have doors. The walls are half-painted and the counters are covered in sawdust. I currently can’t locate the loaf of bread I bought yesterday, but it’s probably out there in the living room piled next to the knives or under the stack of newspapers.

While home renovations are certainly exciting, and I’m looking forward to the end result, I might be a tad tired of the process. It’s been nice to get some fresh air in the basement via the large hole in the wall, but since it’s eleven degrees outside, I wouldn’t mind if it were patched soon. And though I quite like the contractor who is renovating our house, it is starting to feel like he lives with us.

As I searched around the house for a spatula and pan this morning, I will admit to feeling out-of-sorts. Okay, maybe even grumpy. I felt stretched, as though some internal limit had been reached, quite suddenly, and I was very much done with this renovation process.

Except, the renovation process is not yet done.

The handy thing about mind-body skills is that they can be done on the fly. As I rushed around, trying to find kitchen implements and muttering under my breath, I reflected on what my emotions, body, and soul were telling me. Here’s the summary:

Emotions: Anger and Irritation – a limit has been reached.

Body: Tired – it’s time to rest.

Soul: Space is needed now.

I immediately felt better. Understanding what I need solves the stress.

The interesting thing about listening to my needs is that it doesn’t involve any kind of problem-solving or action steps. Instead of trying to solve anything or jump right into “fix” mode (which often just increases stress), I can sit back and listen. First, I listen to what is needed. Then, I listen for the solution.

Amazingly, without any work on my part, the solutions always appear. Whenever I listen for them, they show up. They come as ideas in my own mind, words spoken from someone else, or a phrase in a book. They can be in any form – my job is to recognize them.

Today’s solution came in the form of an email. The contractor wrote to detail out his plan to finalize the kitchen. Order and space arrived out of nowhere. He then reminded me that he will be gone next week – all week. A week in which I will rest, clean sawdust off my countertops, and enjoy the pause before we jump back into the game.

Life itself is pretty much a home renovation process. Just when you think it’s going smoothly, something springs a leak or some such surprise arises. There will be many moments when you are stretched to your limit, ready to snap. When stress happens, it’s time to stop and listen. Your emotions, body, and soul are there to help you navigate. Discover your needs, listen for the solutions, and stop trying to figure it out.

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