Trigger Points - Ready, Aim, Tackle


Last week we talked about the different categories of stressors and fondly named them P.E.E.T. Each week I will review the previous week's Blog-ieo to cement the message.

P.E.E.T is an acronym for Physiological, External/Social, Environmental, Thoughts

Last week we talked about the different categories of stressors and fondly named them P.E.E.T. If you are interested in a Free P.E.E.T. /Stress Trigger Table, click here: Stress Portfolio: Do You Invest in Managing Your Stress?

When you think back on your week, were you more aware of your stress triggers? Take a moment to gage your success. I've also provided a few thought provoking prompts below:

1. Did you think about the things that stressed you at all? Yes or No? If you answered:
Yes - Great, now estimate the days/times that you think you were more aware of your stress.
No - That's okay too! Just recognizing that you weren't really aware of your stressors can help you in this journey. You might reflect on
a time in the past where you were really "in tune." What caused that heightened sense of awareness? Remember awareness is likened to a GPS. You
don't drive in unfamiliar areas without a GPS to guide your direction. The same is true when you become tuned into your stress triggers. You need to
to boot up your internal GPS.

2. If you did think about your stress points, did you first recognize and at least mentally categorize them into a P.E.E.T. (Physiological, External,
Environmental, Thoughts)? If you answered:
Yes - You are well on your way to better understanding your mind-body connection and heightening your overall awareness.
No - That's okay too, because simply thinking about and categorizing the stressors might not actually help you increase your awareness, at least not
initially . It could be that you simply realize you are stressed and you think it is caused by a compilation of factors. That is often the case. However, it
is helpful to get a handle on what stresses you the most. You can then begin to tackle the biggest offender and start to manage the situation/stressor
versus the stressor managing you.

Regardless of how you answered the questions, you may want to consider a more formal way of increasing your stress awareness. Journaling can be quite effective. Writing can be therapeutic and offer insight when you re-read your entries. Journaling is also a bit more narrative in nature and if you aren't deliberate with the outline, you may find it difficult to weed your garden of stress. In other words, the events of the days or weeks can begin to look like one big domino effect called your stressful life. You are no longer sure where things started because the beginning was so high up on the chain.

A possible solution? You may want to consider organizing your entries into some sort of time table to include the date/day, time of the event, event type and your symptom(s). Use a table, digital or paper, and include these three key areas:
Time
Stressful Trigger
Awareness/Symptom
I provided an outline below to help you get started. If you aren't into journaling, then consider using an app. I have tried Pacifica and Daylio. Both have free versions with upgrades that you may find useful. If you click on the links you can find my summary and short review of each app to include my app, FUSION. With FUSION you can establish any customizable goal to include tracking your stress triggers. You can also message your coach (that's me!) about events between sessions. We can then discuss those events and work together to find strategies to get them under control. In addition to stress tracking, you might also wish to track nutrition, activity, enjoy ad free media boards and more. Benefits and tutorials can be found on my website under the FUSION tab (link). While you decide which tool or tools might work best for you, let's get back to the table I created.

You see that I created a simple table including the 3 key categories. In the first line, I documented receiving a call late at night as a trigger. My symptom was heightened anxiousness due to concern that something may be wrong with a friend or family member. My second example is of someone cutting me off in traffic. In a state of full awareness, I move beyond mere annoyance and assess if the reaction or trigger may have stemmed from something deeper, such as concern for my safety. Increased awareness also provides me with an opportunity to let that stressful situation go once it is over so that it doesn't negatively impact the rest of my day. An even deeper sense of awareness might bring me full circle towards gratitude. Yes, gratitude. After all, I wasn't involved in an accident. I wasn't harmed. I can be thankful for those things. Now, that I've provided a few examples, I hope you can see how adding order to your journal might prove beneficial in increasing awareness of your stress triggers.


Time
Stressful Trigger
Awareness/Symptom
1100 pm
Phone Call
Increased awareness - concern something might be wrong with family or friend due to late call.
0800
Driving to work- someone cuts me off in traffic
Increased awareness - not so nice thoughts. Safety? Stress response activated (flight or fight). Now what?
Choice: Temper it down or let it take control?
1500
Sitting, working, few breaks
(see below)
Awareness - Shoulder tension

Now that I've provided a few useful tools, I'd like to share more details using my third, final, but real life example. I often sit a the dining room table to work. This is not necessarily the best practice. I know that my body suffers because I'm not sitting or typing in an ergonomically fashion. I also know I should take more frequent breaks, but it doesn't always happen. The end result, my shoulders build tension and my back tends to hurt. How do I know this? I'm in tune to my mind and body connection. The mind-body connection may seem to be a little sci-fi, but, it's quite simple. It's not much more sophisticated that recognizing you have a headache and taking a pain reliever. The biggest difference is the level of awareness so that you notice most things going on versus dismissing stressors. The mind-body connection is a representation of the anatomical body telling your mindful, super brain, that something isn't quite right. The connection is an ingenious human design. The messaging also isn't uni-directional, rather it's bi-directional and the the pop up reminders can help us live more productive and less stressful lives. That is if we take action!

Action, now that is definitely a verb and we should always think of it that way. Since I'm already aware of my bad habits, I don't really need a journal to help me understand that I need to make changes. I already know I need to make a change. However, if I chose to journal or use an app, the the trends might convict me to take action. Let's just say that I finally decide to change my bad habit of sitting too long working at the dining room table.

Step 1: The first step is easy. I should move to my home office and sit in my very expensive ergonomic chair and follow all the other sound practices. Today, you should be proud of me. I'm typing from my home office in my nice chair. Step one, achieved!

Step 2: Take more frequent breaks and stay focused. These two things seem to contradict themselves, but they don't. They are the Yin and Yang of getting things done! One is called the Pomodoro Technique and the other, the Ivy Lee Method.

I'll blog more about those techniques in an upcoming blog, but, for now, I'll share the gist of it below:

Ivy Lee Method:
  • Made famous in the 1940s, by a gentleman named none other than Ivy Lee. The method is simple. Think of life in three key areas: Life, Health and Business/Career
  • Prioritize the top 6 things that you need to get done, simply 1-6.
  • Get moving on those tasks and don't make a new list until you finish the first 6 items.
  • Carryover from day to day is acceptable.

Pomodoro Technique:
It's simple in definition, but not as simple in execution. (in other words, changing bad habits is hard)
  • Set a 25 minute timer and focus on task at hand.
  • Once you have focused 25 minutes, take a mini break of 5 minutes.
  • After you've achieved four to five Pomodoro sessions, reward yourself with a longer break, e.g. 25 to 30 minutes.

How am I doing?

Step 1: Goal - work in my home office and be aware of posture, sitting and typing techniques.
Achievement - I'm moving into week two and I still mostly work from my office!

Step 2. Goal - Use the 25 min. Pomodoros to incorporate breaks and the Ivy Lee method to keep me focused?
Achievement - Well, I'm getting there. Some days are better than others. When I have good days I stick to the plan, establish my top six priorities
and use my cell phone as my Pomodoro reminder. I do have to actually stop when the phone chimes.

Step 3: I will incorporate goal setting for Step 2. Meaning, I will hold myself accountable using my app, FUSION. I'll set a goal of Pomordoro usage 50% of each working day. I will then expect that 4 out of 8 hours I take breaks in 25 min increments. Once I'm successful with that, I will increase my goal to 60%, then 70% and so on.

For my friends and following, here's this week's practice: Try digging a little deeper and decide what might work for you:
  • Journaling
  • Stress Trigger Summary/Table or App (message me if you want to give FUSION a whirl. I'll give you a 30 day vs. a 14 day trial for FREE)
Already decided what your trigger points are ready to get to work? Great, then try adding techniques like:
  • Ivy Lee - top 6 priorities
  • Pomodoro - 25 min. focus sessions, break, continue pattern until longer break
For you Free PEET & Stress Trigger Table, click here:
If you are interested in Ivy Lee and/or Pomodoro, feel free to message me about options for getting that practice going and keeping it going. We can work on it together! Kintsugi Life - Contact Me!

Join me again next week for another exciting topic. We will talk about breathing! Now, don't laugh. Breathing is exciting and when we are done you will know why! Take care and remember to join the Coffee with Kim Blog-io to get your weekly scoop.