A FEW weeks before Christmas I was at the doctors as I had been experiencing heart palpitations and feeling very tired. The results were in – high blood pressure and stress.
I was shocked but not surprised – a combination of working long hours, the run up to Christmas and Omicron. It was time to stop and re-set, I questioned – ‘what I can control and what can’t I control?’
There are many things in life we can’t control – what other people think of us, losing a loved one, the weather or how others behave or what they say.
There are, however, many things we can control. I’m mindful that on some days it doesn’t feel like it. I think it’s empowering to remind ourselves there are actions we can take, even in difficult times.
I re-introduced boundaries at work, making time for breaks, and scheduling more ‘work free’ time. Accepting Christmas is a stressful time but choosing how to respond by staying calm and relaxed, being in control of when, where, and how I say, ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Being mind-full of the way I talk to myself, how many times I check my phone, increasing the hours I sleep and I stopped watching the news.
I work with clients to help them stop beating themselves up for not being able to control what is beyond their ability to control. Working together we identify what they can and can’t control. Some examples are:
• You can’t control the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can control how you respond to those thoughts.
• You can’t control other people’s responses, but you can control what you say or do when responding to others.
• You can’t expect other people to always meet your needs or put your needs first.
• You can’t control what other people think of you, but you can control how you respond to criticism.
• You can’t directly control how you feel, but you can control how you respond to your emotions and the thoughts that trigger feelings.
We can’t always control every situation but by taking small steps we can always do something to help ourselves manage it. By taking positive action on the things you can control, you minimise the impact of things you can’t control.
The new year is often a time we consider ‘new year, new you’. However, I would encourage you to focus, re-build and re-set, owning your own goals. We can control our actions, the goals we pursue, the values we adopt, and our mental attitudes.
Yet we also need to recognise we can’t control that which lies beyond our reach. There are obstacles that can feel impossible but there are other things we can control: we can seek support, we can seek professional help.
As we enter the new year, I don’t feel powerless and out of control. I have started to dig my way out. I’m back at the doctors for a review mid-January. The palpitations have eased off and there’s a way to go but I’m building in more exercise, practice self-care, communicate my needs and ensure I structure my day in a way that is helpful to me.
For more information and support with any mental health related issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org