Transitions, Resets, and Themes
Are you feeling anxious and overwhelmed? Having difficulty prioritizing your to do list or figuring out what to do next or how to approach a period of time or a situation? Identifying transition points, hitting the reset button and assigning themes can aid in navigating or re-framing anxious moments and creating or establishing order where needed. Having mental clarity and calm helps us be more present and to use our time, talents and resources more effectively in our everyday lives.
I define a transition point as a thing or space that represents a role or activity in which I want to move. In times where my work life and personal life collide, I sometimes find it difficult to keep one area from bleeding over into another. One way I help myself make a shift mentally, emotionally and behaviorally is to identify a transition point for the things I want to get done. For example, I designate a television tray table as my only work space. In this way I provide myself a bit of the structure which helps me be more present and productive in whatever I am doing. In confined and limiting spaces, transition points can be helpful in establishing and maintaining clarity.
Leaving work to go home and do more work when you are already exhausted can be overwhelming; At least, it is for someone like me who struggles to make sure I check off everything I put on my to-do list. When I find myself in this space or some other overwhelming moment, I recognize it as a good time to hit the reset button. One of the ways I do this after a long and tiresome day – and in anticipation of a long night – is to put my butt on the bench. The bench I am referring to is one sitting in a corner of my room that I have identified as my quiet place. It is the place I go to breathe and spend time with God. On those days when I feel most anxious and overwhelmed, I transition by sitting on the bench for ten minutes. In those moments, I hit reset by taking time out to breathe. I might say a prayer over my day or simply sit in silence. In those moments, I am able to let the dust of the day settle, consider the long list of “to dos” and reprioritize. I take time to refocus and consider what it is that has to be done and what can wait. Then I give myself permission to leave the bench and get on with my evening.
Put a Theme on it
Another device that can be used to re-frame a moment, providing some structure or guidance and helping reduce anxiety is assigning themes. I define themes as any word or phrase which serves as a filter that guides my actions in various situations, and my interactions with others. When choosing a theme, consideration is given to values. In processing what themes I want to assign to a situation, I reflect on questions like, Who do I want to be in the midst of it (the interaction, the situation, the moment)? What value do I want to uphold? What does it mean to live out that value in the context of that situation? My response to these questions helps me determine how to navigate each moment and live consistent with my values. For example, I do not like conflict. So, when I am preparing to have an unpleasant conversation, I sometimes feel anxious about what is going to be said and question if I will truly be heard and understood. Also, because I want to be a good communicator and have healthy communication, I try to prepare myself to be present and really listen to what the other person is saying. At the same time, I admit that can sometimes be difficult.
Depending on the situation or interaction, I sometimes choose two or more theme words or a phrase as a lens to guide the things I say and do. When having difficult conversations, I might choose the word “courage” as a go-to theme to help me to stay present and to speak up when I want to be silent and withdraw; or the word “joy” to help me to stay encouraged and remember that my identity is established and rooted in Christ when I am being unfairly spoken to or attacked by another; or the phrase “speak the truth in love” which reminds me to be honest and speak what is true according to God’s word and to do it in a way that honors and values the other person. Putting a theme on the situation in this way helps me to maintain clarity and focus while adding value.
If handling your anxious moments have become too much for you and you are struggling to maintain clarity and focus, do not be afraid to reach out for help. One of the therapists at Optimum Joy would be glad to work with you. Exploring what is at the heart of your struggles and identifying strategies to regain focus and be more effective. Call today to get started.
Written by therapist Roslyn Jordan
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