Regulate & Rewire: An Anxiety & Depression Podcast

Editing Your Stress Bucket (Part 4)

November 21, 2023 Amanda Armstrong Episode 40
Regulate & Rewire: An Anxiety & Depression Podcast
Editing Your Stress Bucket (Part 4)
Show Notes Transcript


Feeling overwhelmed by the endless to-do and a life that feels mostly stressful most of the time? It's time to take control and edit your stress bucket. Think of it as a gentle dance of self-awareness and adjustments, not a one-time fix. Now, the fun part (IMO): the "Delete, Delegate, Different" method. Delete stressors that drain you and are unnecessary. Delegate tasks that others can handle, freeing up your time and energy. For stressors that can't be deleted or delegated, find ways to do them differently, reducing their impact on your stress levels.

Remember, editing your stress bucket is a process. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your progress, and don't hesitate to seek support when needed, this is exactly the work we support clients in all the time.

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Welcome to regulate, and rewire and anxiety and depression podcast where we discuss the things I wish someone would have taught me earlier in my healing journey. I'm your host, Amanda Armstrong. And I'll be sharing my steps, my missteps, client experiences and tangible research based tools to help you regulate your nervous system, rewire your mind and reclaim your life. Thanks for being here. Now let's dive in. 

Welcome back, friends, I made it you made it. This is the fourth and final episode in the stress bucket exercise series. And I'm going to start us off today with a another little story about stress. I caught myself be rating myself for not being productive enough the other day. Yes, right smack dab in the middle of preparing these episodes for you about stress, and not doing too much and talking about how much progress I've made on my productivity based self worth and how the stress bucket exercise makes you so much more compassionate. And yet, there I was looking at my to do list berating myself for not getting more done. Oh, how many times I have chosen to focus on the items still on that list versus celebrating the ones that I crossed off. And I know there are so many of you who can resonate. Because the truth is that day was a wildly productive day, it just wasn't so wildly productive, that it met my unrealistic expectations of how productive it should have been. And then, of course, I was scrolling through Instagram, and I found a post it was directed at mothers but it read no more productivity hacks. I will not tell a mother how to do the most with the hours in a day. I want her to know how to let go of what doesn't matter to simplify and enjoy this one precious time in our life. And I think that there's a way that all of us can take something from that we have had productivity hacks shoved down our throats. When life coaching first boomed and got big, I can't tell you how many people were like, here's the perfect morning routine to have the most productive day, all you have to do is wake up at 5am and do these things. And I subscribe to that at one point I was like, yes, that must be why I can't get so much done. That was the must be why I'm not a millionaire. And I am just no longer subscribing to that story. To that hustle culture, no more productivity hacks, friends, productivity is going to come when you're living in alignment, and your system has capacity. I am not here to tell you how to do the absolute most with the hours in your day. What I want to talk about today, when we talk about editing your stress bucket is I want to help you get better at letting go of what doesn't matter, or of the things that are not in alignment with your authentic self with the life that you want to be living all of the things in your bucket that you're doing just because you think you should. 

I want you to entertain for a moment, the idea that maybe you don't have to do any more. You don't have to be more you don't have to have more. Really let those questions settle for you for a moment, and maybe tune in to your body. And notice if anything shifts, when you think to yourself, What if I don't have to do more? What if I don't have to be more or have more? What if I am already doing enough? What if I am already enough. And I already have enough. That is the messaging that I want to share with all of you more than anything. 

So if you are joining today, for the first time in a few weeks, for the first time ever, this is part four of a four part series you are going to get the most out of this conversation. If you hit pause really quick and spend the next bit of time the next few days, even the next few weeks starting with part one and then coming back to here. But if you have been following along week by week, then to some extent you have now assessed your stress bucket, audited your stress levels in a macro or micro way. Maybe started to manage your stressors, maybe experimented with one or two ways that you can poke holes in your bucket throughout the Day. And today we are going to talk about editing your stress bucket. Because again, if stressors are coming in faster than you let them out, you're always going to be left with an overflowing bucket. And today is about looking at all those pieces of the puzzle on the table, and realizing how many of them aren't even a match for who you are, what you want the life that you want to create, how you want to feel that a lot of those things that you are carrying around the puzzles that you're looking at, that are contributing to your stress load, or an accumulation of puzzle pieces that your parents, society, social media has just come and dropped in front of you. And because maybe you didn't know any better, you didn't know different, you took them on, again, with this narrative of well, oh, that's the mother I should be. That's the friend I should be. A good employee does this. And to that, I'll offer you the same filter I often do have, says who. And so this step editing your stress bucket is about figuring out which pieces belong to your puzzle. And I use the word belong loosely, because there can be a lot of reasons for something to belong in your current stress bucket. Maybe it belongs there simply because it is because it's a reality of your history or circumstances of your current life. I have had many, many surgeries. Each is a stressor in my stress bucket, that no matter how much I wish it wasn't there. It's there. So it belongs simply because it's part of my story. And as many of you know, as of right now I've got two kids. I suppose I could pack up and leave tomorrow. But I have really good reasons for not doing that. So my two kids and everything that comes with that are pieces to my puzzle or water in my stress bucket. And another funny thing, seasonal thing for me, we recently discovered that there's a mouse in our house. It is not glamorous to admit on my podcast, but it's the reality there is mouse poop on my kitchen table when I wake up a lot of mornings right now. That is a big current stressor in my life, how to keep this mouse from crawling on my freaking kitchen table. And not only does it add stress load, because I'm like, oh, where else in my house? Is it that I don't even know how am I going to get rid of this mouse now I have to clean way more than I like clean. And so again, I use this word belong loosely, because there are just parts of the reality of our lives of our lives history. And those belong, simply because they are. And then there are also the pieces that belong because we've chosen them, they're worth the load that they put on our life. 

So when it comes to editing your stress bucket, I want you to know that it's a process, it is not a one time thing. It's more about establishing a practice of editing. Too many of us have gotten into the habit of Yes, yes, yes, keep doing it. Because you've always done it, keep thinking or believing it because that's what you've always thought or believed keep being everything to all people because that's how you feel most needed and most secure. Keep being agreeable, because it feels easier to play small than to have somebody be annoyed with you. But to all of you listening, just continuing to do what you've always done. How's that going for you? Because I doubt you have made it two hours into content about a stress bucket, on a podcast with anxiety and depression in the title. Because your life feels awesome. So many of you are here, because you want different for yourself, your family, your life, you are looking for ways to heal ways to create a life that not only maybe looks good on the outside, but also feels deeply good to you on the inside. And it matters. So, so much to me to support you in creating that. And I know that one of those key steps is getting really good at editing the stressors in your life. 

This fourth step of editing has a lot of moving pieces to it. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to briefly present them all to you and then I'm going to go into more detail about how they might fit in how you might want to engage with these variety of ways of editing your stressors. And know this that editing is not a destination you are never going to be able to edit your stress bucket to the perfect, maintainable place. Because seasons change. A sustainable stress bucket looks very different for me now with young children than it might when they're all school aged, it looked different when I was in the depths of grief through miscarriage or my fertility treatment than it does today on a daily basis. My stress bucket and capacity in the ways that I need to edit it look different on a Monday after a good night's sleep than it often does on a Thursday after being woken up five times throughout the night by those two Gremlin children. 

So again, there is even here in this step, both micro and macro ways to editing, there are going to be some glaring pieces in your stress bucket where you're like that relationship needs some hefty boundaries. I maybe don't know how to do that yet. But I know that that's a way that I need to edit this load. Or these 17 things that I have committed to on a monthly basis on my schedule. I don't know which ones I'm going to let go of, but I know they can't all stay. And then there's this microwave editing of waking up and saying, Yep, I'm 30% today. And on days where you wake up at 30%. Guess what 30% is your 100% for that day? How can you get really good at auditing your stress load in the morning, and then editing your stressors for the day, to let 30% get you through that day. And most of you listening to this have too much in your bucket, things have got to go to create a stress level that is more in alignment with your current capacity with your current level of coping skills. And as those things increase, as your capacity increases, your coping skills increase, your ability to carry more will increase. But today, we have to edit in alignment, we have to be honest about our capacity and to do our best about editing to meet us where we are today. To be ruthless in cutting away if necessary, and it will piss some people off. That's a whole nother skill to get good at letting people be annoyed with you. And while we may need to be ruthless and cutting away, I also want you to practice being gentle in this process, because it can be really hard. So here are some of those pieces or different parts of this editing step that I will be throwing around in this conversation. And I want you to know that there is no right order or way to go about engaging in these. And that might make more sense in a few minutes. 

So here we go, you're going to hear me use the words controllables uncontrollables. And kinda controllables I'm gonna use the words core values, maybe authentic self or self energy. And then what you'll see in the workbook is a very simplified brainstorming page with the 3ds of delete, delegate and do different. And what I will finish off explaining is that little box that says Add. And now let's take a dive into each of these pieces in a little bit more detail. So first, I want to invite you to take a look at step one, take a look or think about that stress bucket assessment and get a feel for which pieces are within your control out of your control, or those kind of controllables, which is something in the middle. So looking at all of those pieces, or just mentally reflecting what are the things that you have the power to completely ditch or to change? Those are your controllables your uncontrollables are the things that just are or at least they just are right now there's not a whole lot you can do about them. And you're kind of controllables those are the things in your stress bucket that are somewhere in the middle. Maybe there's an element of it that's not within your control, but you can control other aspects of it. So two of the other elements that I mentioned were core values or authentic self. And some of you might be like what on earth does that have to do with editing stress buckets? When you can get clear on your core values on what matters most to you. It It becomes a really powerful filter for the things that you say yes or no to what you choose to delete or keep in your life. 

Like you've heard me say many times in this series is so many of us are living on autopilot, parenting in the ways that we think that we should being friends, with people in the way that we think we should improve being an employee in the way that we think we should. And when we get quiet, and we ask ourselves, why do I do this thing in this way? And you're like, I don't know, there's something to look at there. Reflecting Is it because this is how I really want to be is this what I really want to do? Because I think it's best or is that just because it's what I've been told, or what's been modeled for me. And something that I often hear from people is like, I'm not even sure who I am underneath anxiety or depression. And chronic and traumatic stress does that to us, it often robs us of an inner sense of self and safety. And that can take time to source and to get clear. And so today, I am not going to unpack how to go about determining your core values, or how to source for your authentic self or yourself energy. That is much deeper work that we do with our clients and a possible conversation for another day on the podcast. But I wanted to mention it here because when you can get really clear on those things. It makes saying yes, and no to what goes in your stress bucket a lot easier. 

Old Amanda, a past version of me, who subscribed to a lot of things I no longer subscribed to. I used to think that if I just tried hard enough, I could do it all. And from the outside looking in on my life for a really long time it did it looked like I was crushing it. I was doing it all I was having it all. And I felt awful, because I was doing it all for all of the wrong reasons. For everyone else. And I did that for so long. And I am in a place in my healing where I won't do it anymore. I would rather one 100 people be disappointed with me for choosing what feels most authentic and aligned for me, then to be disappointed in myself for doing 100 things for other people that didn't. I put in too much work. To break down my productivity based self worth. I am putting in too much effort right now to heal the impacts of over a decade of self sacrifice and chronic stress. And I have practiced getting Okay, with the uncomfortable feeling of other people being annoyed with me or not understanding the decisions that I make. And friends this is hard to do. It is a skill that I am very much still practicing. But as you edit your stress bucket as you set boundaries, there are people who benefited from an unhealed or a less healed version of you that are going to be really annoyed with the way that you start showing up in your life as the more healed, more aligned, more authentic version of you. Please keep showing up that way anyways. 

All right now coming back on track to this fourth step of editing, doing that deeper work to sift through what you do because you think you should, versus what really feels aligned to you. It's tough work. But it is such a valuable filter to put in place for what you allow to take up space in your stress bucket. Now moving on to, in my opinion, where it can get fun and hard and playful. And that's what I want to invite you as you move into exploring those three Ds, delete, delegate and different Can you have a little bit of fun with it? Can you play with the idea of like, well, what if because my bet is your first look at that list, you're gonna be like, I can't delete any of it. I need to have all of it. And then I want you to look at your stress bucket assessment again and say, well, but what if I could delete something? If I could delete something, what might it be? And when you look at that assessment, you're like, I can't delegate anything. Go through it again, a little bit more gently and say, well, but if I could, what might it be? And you don't have to have the answer for how Yeah, For the first time you look at everything, your brain is likely going to say, Oh, nothing can be different. Well, if something on the list could be different, what might that be? What might different look like in the way that a grocery shop just recently, we found out that the grocery store shop app does an online order for $2. So instead of going into the grocery store and getting all of my things I now pull up, they load it into my trunk, and we go home. Oh, cool. That's how I'm doing something different that has decreased the load of that particular task on my stress bucket. Different is oftentimes the filter that we need to put on a lot of relationships in our life. How can I be in relationship with that person in a different way. 

And you can go about exploring these three Ds, a couple different ways. Maybe, like I was just referencing, you decide that you are going to look at all of the things that you unpacked from your stress bucket, and decide what you want to delete, delegate or do different maybe you go by category, and you're like, I'm gonna look at all of the physiological stuff first, what can I delete? What can I delegate? What can I do different there? Then I'm gonna go to all the relational stuff, what can I delete delegate do different? Maybe you decide, I'm going to look at all of all of the categories, all of the things, and first I'm going to do delete, what can I delete from everywhere? Then what can I delegate from everywhere? What can I do differently from everywhere? There's no right or wrong way to apply these filters. And maybe instead of looking at everything, what I've done before, what some of our clients choose to do, is they want to instead start with their daily stressors taking on all their baseline, their historical, their habitual stressors feels like a little match. So they're like, I'm just going to see if I can figure out how to edit my daily stressors. These are things like, how do you wake up, choosing your outfit, what you choose to eat or how you go about making breakfast, lunch and dinner, clean up after meals, the house, clean up your grocery list grocery shopping, sometimes church responsibilities, washing produce, putting away groceries laundry, mowing the lawn, pulling the weeds, washing the cars, PTO meetings, swim lessons, picking up dog poop, walking the dog school, drop off school pickup paying bills bedtime when I have done this, about a year ago, actually, I did this. And I got very, very granular not only did I write down all of my daily stressors, but then I wrote down all of the steps that were involved. So grocery shopping wasn't just grocery shopping, grocery shopping, was making the grocery shopping list, going to the store, doing the actual shopping, getting home, washing the produce, cleaning out the fridge, putting away the groceries, because I wanted to see if there was any step in that task that I could delete, delegate or do differently, to minimize the stress load on my day. And so what could that look like for you. 

And I'll share some of the changes that came up for me and for my family as I went through that. Some of the things that I deleted, were about six bags of clothes from my closet. And so so many things for my house, I spent about six months with the sole focus on minimizing my home environment so that it was easier to keep keep clean. There was less decision making and the things that I was going to wear. Other things I deleted from our schedule. I quit my son's schools, PTO, we stopped doing swim lessons. I had a church calling or church responsibility that I stepped down from, I no longer made breakfast and lunch for my husband, again, remember stepping into those things that you do because you should do. And the truth is still actually more often than not, I do end up making him breakfast or lunch. But I no longer do it because I should. So what I really deleted was the story that a good wife makes breakfast and lunch for her husband who works from home. And now it's just like, if it's easy, I do it. If it's not, I don't and there's no mental drama about it. So I deleted that mental load that should and that part of my life. And then some of the things that we delegated my husband and I sat down with our budget. Some of the things I was doing got delegated to him things like laundry and dishes because we looked at it and it just felt like there was an an equitable share of the domestic tasks. And then there were certain things we were like oh well can we collectively delegate so we found a neighbor boy who can do some of the yard work. We decided that if we needed to we could forego some birthday or some Christmas gifts to finance somebody coming too deep clean our house twice a month, way better, I would pick this wonderful thing to have a woman coming to deep clean my house over anything that my husband could get me for birthday or Christmas. And then there were the things that we now do different. Like I said, I grocery shop differently. I really struggle with decision fatigue, I have to make so many decisions all day long and running this business. And so my life decisions need to be simplified. So now I have one of two breakfasts almost every single day, I have almost the same set of snacks every single day. I meal prep, mostly on the weekend, because cooking a full dinner every single night cooking is not something that brings me joy. It's just something that's important to me to feed myself and to feed my family nutrient dense meals. And in this I didn't try to do this editing inside my own little insular bubble. I talked to friends about it. I was like, Hey, are there any ways that you handle the everyday life things in a way that feels easy for you? What's that look like? We've had so many conversations inside my Rise Membership around the same as well of how can we minimize our stress load in just a ton of small ways that add up in such a significant way over time. 

So really just going through all of this with the goal being less the goal being simpler, more space, a bigger buffer zone, in your stress bucket? What can you delete, delegate or do differently about your everyday life, in regards to your physiology to your environments, to your relationship to your time with social media or technology? And another reminder that as you go through this editing process, you do not have to have all the answers. Now, you do not need to know the how yet, how am I going to delegate that? How am I going to do that differently? Yeah, you might just be taking note of, I'd like to do that different. And then one other thing that you will see in the workbook that I created for you is a place titled add. And this is where I want to invite you to brainstorm what things or actions if done, make it easier to carry your bucket. A lot of those things in that physiological category getting good sleep when I'm moving. So exploring there overall, in each category or with your daily habits. How can you lean more intentionally into or add more of the things that feel supportive? What do you want to add instead? What distressing swaps can you make for things that are currently in your bucket? And ultimately, each of these steps, all of this gives you more awareness, a greater sense of choice, autonomy and agency over your life. So many of the clients that we work with don't feel like an active participant in their life, they often feel like life is happening to them while they just scramble to hang on. And I want to help change that. 

So a natural question to ask at this point is where do I start? And my answer to that is, wherever you want, you get to choose, maybe you choose the easiest thing to delete first, and step into the work of deleting it. Maybe you take something you have control over and decide how you're going to make that 1% different. Maybe you choose one thing to delegate in some small way to a partner to a friend to a service. Maybe as you're listening, you skip right to step three. And you don't assess, you don't audit, you just go right to poking some holes in your bucket with one of those four tools that I suggested. Maybe you don't actually formally do any of these steps that I've mentioned. But instead you just begin to check in with yourself. Ask yourself more often, how awful is my stress bucket feel? Just that simple check in. And that acknowledgement can be so profoundly impactful over time to help you build awareness and to be in conversation more between your mind and body. Maybe you decide that your goal this week is to actually say no when you want to say no to something instead of reflexively saying yes like you might have last week. You say no this week or maybe you decide to edit your stress bucket with those three days as your filter and if you do what I do not recommend you do is to try to Change everything all at once or to even change a handful of things at once. Because if you try to change too much too fast, it is going to shock your system and it is going to reinforce your need to stay stuck in survival mode. Changing too much, even if it's in a helpful and healthy direction is stressful for our system. 

So I want you to look at your stress bucket and say, What feels so easy to delete, to delegate or to do differently, when editing your stress bucket, move, slow. Remember, there is no rush, you have your whole life to edit. And if you try to do too much, too soon, it will be counterproductive for distressing your system. So maybe you decide I'm going to take three deep breaths in the morning, I'm going to go to bed just 10 minutes earlier, I'm going to try to optimize that physiology piece. Maybe I'm going to get rid of five things in my closet or put a picture that brings me joy on my office desk. I'm going to work on that environment piece. Maybe I'm going to plug my phone in on the dresser instead of my nightstand trying to set a small boundary with my tech time. Start by choosing one small thing that feels so so easy. And keep doing it until it is your new normal. And then choose one more thing. This is what the research shows us leads to effective behavior change. So often, we want to take on the biggest thing, start small, celebrate along the way, and small shifts over time, change everything. 

Now if you have the workbook. Last minute, I added a page at the back that's titled where do I start, and it talks about what I call the four B's to regulated living. That is a conversation I am going to unpack with all of you next week. So stay tuned for that. When it comes to healing anxiety and depression through a nervous system lens. There are so many different ways that you can go about that there's so many different ways that we go about this work with clients. And the stress bucket exercise is just one of the many approaches and many, many tools that we use in our practice. And I hope that laying it out for you in this four part series felt helpful for you in some way, put a little bit of strategy into maybe some of the next steps in your healing journey. And bringing it all together by coming back to something I said a few weeks ago, and reflect on how different your life would be if you decided that instead of trying to be as productive as possible instead of living your life. Through this question of how much can I possibly handle? You instead decided to build a life based on the question of what matters most to me. How much can I take on while still feeling at ease and in control of my everyday life? What would more regulated living look like? And I am here to help you figure that out. 

Now for today's three takeaways. 

Number one, if you are walking around your life stressed out every day, it is time to sit down on your own with us or with somebody else to take a look at your stressors. regulating your nervous system. Living a regulated life means that you are consciously engaged in the process of editing stressors, life will never stop throwing things at you. You have to get good at doing what you need to do to create more filters, more space and a bigger buffer zone. 

Number two, one way that you can start to edit your stress bucket is by taking a look at those things on your controllables or kind of controllables list. And just getting curious about what you might want to or be able to delete delegate or do differently. 

And number three, the heart of editing your stress bucket is about owning your nose to protect your yeses. And sometimes that means saying no to things that you want to have more space for the things you want most. So I want to invite you to take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you do not have to get it all done today. And pick the thing that matters most. Choose one small way to edit your stress backup. 

Thank you so much for being here. I am ready and looking forward to moving into a new conversation with you all next week, where like I mentioned, we are going to jump into the four B's of more regulated living. Sending so much hope and healing your way. And I'll see you next week. 

Thanks for listening to another episode of The regulate and rewire podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe and leave a five star review to help us get these powerful tools out to even more people who need them. And if you yourself are looking for more personalized support and applying what you've learned today, consider joining me inside Rhys, my monthly mental health membership and nervous system healing space or apply for our one on one anxiety and depression coaching program restore. I've shared a link for more information to both in the show notes. Again, thanks so much for being here. And I'll see you next time.

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