Tip # 7:
This tip ties in with the former one on priorities.
Some people seem to think that we can choose to be stress free, but the truth is that our unconcious mind is pretty strong and keeps us worrying about one thing or another. Besides, an optimal level of stress keeps us motivated, creative and happy. But people with post trauma stress (and many of the rest of us who live in this run, run, run world), have stress much greater than optimum, often overwhelming, and to the point we’d just like to hide under a blanket, or go live on a lush island somewhere far away.
So here is another way to reduce your stress. It can double or even triple your output per day. You can choose your thoughts and your actions. (We’ll talk about thoughts later.) Plan your day in advance step by step. I do this every day and it really works.
1. Each night before you go to bed make a list of what you need to do tomorrow (e.g., pay your bills, call the VA about meeting with a counselor, order medications, pick up milk, etc.). You get the picture. That part is pretty easy. All you need is a paper and pencil and a lucid mind.
2. Now write the list in order of importance. And please be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, “What will make the greatest difference in my life for the better?” It’s not that you won’t do the other things as well but if you miss the last ones, it’s not essential to your welfare. You can always add them to the next day’s list. Often the #1 item will be the one that you have the most resistance to doing and you keep putting off to a later day.
3. But here comes the stickler. Conscious choice and action. Without conscious action, you can think all the nice thoughts you want to, but your life does not basically change. So the next morning, start on your most important item first. In my list above, I would think that calling your VA to make an appointment, would probably create the most positive changes in your life. You may be afraid of what will happen, but like my mother used to say, “Be as scared as you like, but do it anyway.” That takes real courage.