by Stacy Dunn
If you had $86,400, how would you spend it? Did you know that there are 86,400 seconds in a day? How do you spend that time?
Therapist and Speaker Jill Stewart MSW, RSW, with Your Life Design asked these questions and more during the fourth annual Dotgain Conference hosted by Holland College’s School of Visual Arts. She got the in-person and virtual audience to reflect on their thoughts and feelings about navigating stress and uncertainty in their work.
“You may be stressed over deadlines, feedback, critiques, or ‘Impostor Syndrome’ – questioning if you are ready, or if you know enough,” she says. “We have different ways to manage stress because we have different life experiences innate characteristics or other systemic issues that impact us. It is a very individualized thing. Stress can be good or it can be bad and it can manifest itself in your body, mind, emotions, and behaviours.
“There are no easy answers. It’s important to discover your own path and develop a personal strategy for coping and maintaining your wellbeing.”
“Emotional wellness relates to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It’s the ability to successfully handle life’s stressors and adapt to change and difficult times. How well do you understand your well-being and manage and regulate your emotions? Do you know what your limitations are, and know the supports to help you handle them?
“Emotional intelligence enables you to recognize your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. You never want to be that person who others find difficult, but not know, and you don’t want to get involved in clients’ or co-workers’ drama.”
Tips to maintain emotional health
How would you show empathy and validate your friend’s thoughts and feelings? Jill says one way to deal with stress is to treat yourself as you would treat your best friend.
“Self-compassion and positive affirmation keeps your emotions regulated and you stay calm. Keep your own a gratitude journal and regularly write down what you are grateful for. Write down your negative thoughts, but ask yourself what are the facts of the situation you are worrying about.
“If you still tend to worry, set aside a few minutes at the beginning of the day to do your worrying. Set a timer and then get on with the rest of the day after the timer shuts off.”
When we are not coping with transition, loss, and uncertainty, she says we can feel a lot of fear and anger. “When we are coping, we are aware that we are the only ones who can control our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
“When in transition, try to create as much certainty as you can. Maybe that includes sticking to a helpful routine, taking action such as connecting with a friend or completing a task, and creating optimism.”
Jill spoke of the mantra: This too shall pass. “In World War II, Sir Winston Churchill spoke of being a short-term realist and a long term optimist, and that remaining optimistic in troubled times can help.”
Jill also recommends the grounding technique of 5-4-3-2-1. “Find five things you can see, four objects you can touch, three things you can hear, two things that you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Think about how our senses ground us.
“Mediating and praying are also good grounding techniques that may help bring about moments of creative thinking and help you at work and your life.”
Your Life Design offers private counselling and therapy services online for youth and adults.