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‘You can’t control what happens, but you can control how you react’ I thought I created this quote myself, but turns out the Greek philosopher, Epictetus, said it over a thousand years ago. What exactly does the motto mean to me? Are you similar to me or could this motto help you?
Were you ever driving in your car happy as can be, then another car cuts you off? No one got hurt, but the driver was extremely reckless. How do you react after the incident? Do you beep like crazy or did it affect you for hours after?
An angry reaction in this situation is normal, it’s a natural instinct but, does it affect you enough that it might start to affect your mood? I don’t think using the horn in this situation is helpful. Realistically, it’s just telling the people around you, how angry you are with that person. The noise of the horn alone probably even makes you a little angrier (unless of course it is a preventative measure to stop an accident).
When negative or high stressful situations happen in my life, people often ask “why are you so calm?” My thoughts on these situations are, does it help to follow a negative situation with a negative reaction?
Think of the most recent negative situation that has happened to you? Could you control it happening? How was your reaction to that situation and did it help? Did the situation improve, or did the negative action affect your day and influence your mood around those you love?
All emotions are good, and it’s great to express every emotion but… emotions are tiring, and sometimes it's ok not to beep your horn. Sometimes it's ok to be so chilled when something bad happens you take the positives and focus on how you can help yourself. Go on a walk, exercise, watch your favourite comedy or just wind down and listen to music you enjoy. This isn’t selfish, it’s actually self-care!
How can I practice improving my reactions?
I have some non-negotiables in life. These non-negotiables help my mind-set, and make sure I feel good, so that if anything negative does happen, I am more likely to be in control of my reaction. Here’s some of my non-negotiables that might help you in those difficult moments;
Walk, resistance train, BikeRowSki, yoga – something that exercises my body physically. Every single day (it doesn’t have to be super hard, but I just like to move).
To do list
Having a work ‘to do list’ (not everyday). When I am stressed and feel like I have loads to do – I write three important tasks down that need doing. I tick them off, one job at a time and it helps me feel productive and gain control.
Time to think
Spending time by myself helps me rationalise negative feelings I might have. I sit still (alone) for 5-10 minutes as a method of selfcare.
I don’t make loads of plans
I like to take moments to do nothing in a week. Life is hectic enough and sometimes a full day off isn’t possible. I will always make time in the week to do nothing and purely chill out – this means not making plans. Another form of self-care.
Setting non-negotiables throughout the week can help control how you react to negative scenarios that you may have no control over.