6 Steps to Beat Stress Whack-a-Mole
Where are you playing Whack-a-mole in your life? You know the story. The issue that keeps coming up. That one which you roll around and languish in, complaining about how it just won’t ever improve and yet you are still hanging around to check.
It’s like we kind of enjoy it. After all, it’s easy to be a bit of a victim and blame other things in our lives for what isn’t working. The alternative is admitting it is us and we could actually do something about it (but that is a just a bit too scary). Welcome to your personal game of Whack-a-mole.
I realised this when I was having a conversation with a friends’ husband I hadn’t seen for about a year. “Oh, [he said innocently] you were talking about leaving your job last year!” Hmmm… I thought. I’m becoming one of those people, on repeat, just talking about stuff but not actually doing it. Something goes wrong at work? Up pops that mole saying “is it time to try something else?” WHACK. Nope. Until next week when it happens again.
This comes up all over the place too.
How much cognitive bandwidth do we use by not dealing with those life Moles when they pop up?
Even if they aren’t front of mind, they are whirring away in your subconscious, adding stress and anxiety to every day, even if we don’t actively acknowledge it. This may look like:
That job you are still in, despite waking up every day feeling miserable and demotivated
The pile of clothes that you haven’t had mended (or thrown out), that sit in a cupboard and look at you whenever you open the door
The tough performance feedback you haven’t given quite yet, so that toxic team member still has the same destructive behaviour
The person you haven’t called yet be because you’re dreading the conversation
They all add up, tightening that spring in your mind until one day you can’t smash them all down again – all the moles are out of their holes and you’re quivering in a heap on the floor.
How do you know when you’re playing Life Whack-a-Mole?
There are things that have been on your to do list for months
You find yourself repeating the same complaints
You notice your loved ones glazing over, sighing and rolling their eyes, perhaps saying with frustration, ‘well do something about it then’
It’s time to STOP. Take action. Remove the dissonance – it is causing much more damage than you realise!
I tried this one weekend when I decided to do all the things on my list that had been there for months (ahem, some years). Potting plants on the balcony; fixing the door handle that had been broken (and made using the bathroom just that little bit more tricky); putting the pictures up that had sat on the floor since I’d moved in. Every day each one of these had been reminding me of my failure to take action; my inadequacy to get things done. And I can tell you, the process was MUCH easier than I had built it up to be, PLUS the feeling when I had whacked those brain moles down? Clarity. Calm. Satisfaction.
What can you do to manage your moles?
1. Identify what things that are stressing you out right now? No matter how big or small...
2. How long has this stressed me you for?
3. Write down one step you can take to fix this (I’ll give you a clue, its probably much easier than you thought it would be).
Then notice the feeling you get when your moles stop popping up. When you can walk through your mind field with calmness and contentment.
Yes, we will all have moles popping up in our lives, but we also have the opportunity to manage them at that time or let them go.
Release the stress and anxiety and in the words of Nike – just do it.
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