People do many things when they are stressed. Some of the things we do are unconscious (nail biting, nose picking, eating junk food, gorge yourself on ice cream, etc.), but in other situations, many of us focus on tasks that purposely relaxes us. Some people sew and make macramé; others solve puzzles and crossword puzzles. Today, for example, I have started to clean one of my favourite work tools, Playmobil, with which I make organizational (and sometimes family) constellations in the UK, Spain and all around the world.
It is a very mindful activity, in which you can realize of many subtle features of the different human figures (size, hair colour, dress, facial expression, arm and leg position, colour, etc.). Even if I have used them thousands of times, in these moments, I am embraced by a beginner’s mind sensation and peace and stillness arises within me.
In this blissful, peaceful state of mind (the so-called ataraxia), I allow many things pop up in my head. Today, I remembered that in 2016, I was with a coaching client and I took my playmobil bag out of my backpack to do a systemic exercise with her. When I showed the coachee the human figures, her first reaction was, “are they clean?” Thank God, that it happened before the covid-19 pandemic, otherwise I do not know what would have happened. I automatically answered her “yes” and we proceed with the systemic exercise and the coaching session. Once the session was over, and the client had left, I was left reflecting on that event. More specifically, in what my client had given importance to. Looking at myself, I wondered how seriously I was taking care of that tool. With room for improvement, at that point I made a commitment to clean them systematically.
This morning, seven years after that incident, I have found myself thanking this client for making me aware of the importance of caring for, and cleaning my work tools, like in this case, the Playmobil. It makes a lot of sense to me. We often spend a lot of time on ourselves (meditation, breathing, etc.) and our context or tools take a backseat. It is true that for other people, the exact opposite effect happens (a lot of focus on the context and tools, and less on oneself). In my case, that balance between the inner and the outer world generates me a broad awareness of inclusion and belonging, and I feel very grateful.
For all this, I want to share with you five easy to follow steps that all of us can do at any time that we feel pressure, stress or excessive worry:
1.- Become aware when you are stressed, at least, above your own average. Example: In my case, (a) I start to move my legs quickly, (b) I feel the need to look for and eat chocolate, or (c) I stop doing what is stressing me out and I procrastinate surfing the internet or social networks, etc.
2.- Be mindful about the things you can do in the “here and now” that you already know that bring you peace. Example: In my case, (a) collecting and putting away the dishes and cutlery already dry, (b) tidying the bedroom, (c) lying in bed and listen to the music that I usually listen to to meditate or relax, etc.
3.- Choose one of these activities that relaxes you. Example: In my case, today I picked up the Playmobil.
4.- Focus on the activity and allow thoughts to emerge to your consciousness. Example: In my case, while cleaning the Playmobil, the memory of my client asking me whether I cleaned them emerged in me. Another powerful though linked to the previous one was the immense gratitude I have felt for that person who helped me generate a new healthy habit for my work tools, my clients, and myself.
5.- Acknowledge and appreciate the thoughts that comes to your consciousness without judging them, without rejecting them. Remind yourself that everything is fine, and take the opportunity to be compassionate with others and with yourself.
With these simple actions, in a short period of time (a matter of minutes), you will feel more empowered and balanced, ready to come back to your responsibilities with a fresh energy and attitude. Who knows, perhaps with new insights on how to approach them in a different way. Let’s give a try and feel free to share your experiences with me.