Recently, while meeting the requirements for my continued accreditation and certification with EFT International, I was struck by the stress levels I shared with the other participants. Although we are committed to serving others through the best practices that have been evolving over decades in EFT communities, one crucial habit is less well established: using these amazing techniques on our own challenges, including the stress overload that can result in poor boundaries, over booking clients and classes, and discounting our own needs for regular self-care.
While I and many other EFT practitioners remember to “tap in the moment” of emotional intensity, the time in between our commitments to our clients and professional development is often devoted to catching up with office work, helping family members address their needs, and general home-family-friends loving responsiveness. I received an outsized reminder of my need for self-care when our wood person delivered 5 cords of wood instead of our customary 2. Weekend after weekend, my husband and I did our best to stack sizeable portions of this mountain of wood to have on hand for the icy winter days to come. Sadly, what was usually a pleasant and low-key task quickly became contentious because the difference between 5 cords of wood and 2 is so great.
Similarly, while many of us found the pandemic provided a little relief from the constant stress of traffic during commutes, compulsory in-person work meetings, and the personal maintenance practices we could let slide when we met on line, now, most are “back in harness,” a phrase that always tempts me to bray like an overburdened donkey. The best insight to come out of our wood mix-up was that, whether working online or in person, stacking wood or working with clients, I feel immeasurably better when I am consciously aware of my need for self care throughout each day.
Since the visual of that mountain of wood was an undeniable reminder of the work I had to do, it knotted my stomach until I recognized my belly stress as the call to pay special attention to my needs. Once I made this connection, I admitted I needed to step-up my self-care routine in order to continue to stack wood well after the time a 2-cord stacking task required. My fresh discoveries of self-care needs during the stress of that 5-cord delivery error made such a big difference to getting the job done and feeling great about doing so prompts me to share them here.
The first thing I reminded myself to do was drink water, every hour or so, to soothe my gut distress, support my general energy levels, and increase my ability to think and problem solve. Wood stacking is tricky and can, in an instant, cause serious physical injuries if done without awareness. As well, the stress of seeing that mountain of wood caused tension in all my muscles. When I established an hourly water drinking routine, I realized very quickly that I’d let myself get dehydrated. To solve this state of depletion, I carried a small egg timer in my pocket that I reset after each hourly drink. My cell phone is great for such reminders, but I didn’t want to risk damaging it during this very physical labour. As I began to drink water consistently, I noticed my mood shifting into the buoyancy I associate with a great swim. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this mood shift, but I was. I’d temporarily forgotten that water is our planet’s life blood; no wonder regularly hydrating makes us feel connected and happy, within and without.
The second source of nurturing I employed involved remembering to walk away from this big wood job whenever frustration or exhaustion threatened. Walking on our remote dirt road reminded me to inhabit my body, not as a wood stacker, but as a recipient of the beauty and peace of our forests, of bird life, of wildflower glories, and of neighbourhood activities. Grumbling to neighbours I met walking on the road about the relentlessness of stacking 5 cords of wood became lighthearted exchanges about life’s mix-ups instead of the tragic epic I might have created alone, an epic that could have easily evolved into a barely perceptible sense of victimization or full-blown martyrdom.
As well, during that wood stacking period, I used my early morning EFT-journal meditations to explore my thoughts, feelings, and memories of feeling similarly over-burdened. I have used writing to support my EFT personal and professional work since I discovered the techniques more than fifteen years ago. Because writing always engages the mature and resourceful part of my psyche, brain, and nervous system, my potential for self-pity is balanced by the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years that lead me to insights, reframes, and larger perspectives. Because this resourced mature writing habit supports my expression and release of anger and fear, in a very short time, my EFT work tipped me into gratitude for the wood mix-up. My husband and I managed to stack those 5 cords successfully and felt stronger and more resourceful at the end of the process than we did at its beginning. We also speculated, rather mystically, that perhaps the universe might be hinting that our winter season could be longer and colder than previous winters by nudging our wood person to make the mammoth delivery, a playful thought experiment that got us laughing.
Adding to the joy of our mystical interpretation of this particular error were other benefits. Tackling the mountain of wood gave us both a sense of profound accomplishment, not only because we stacked the wood, but because we did so as a team. Coming together to do this work was a lovely experience in and of itself for two introverts who spend a great deal of time in solitary pursuits.
Discovering what works for our self-care during stressful times is a boon. Stress isn’t going away, and each of us has differing and ever-changing needs when meeting it. And yet, we do share common needs for water, for walking away to rest the nervous system and give the muscles something pleasant to do, and for time to reflect on our own evolving experiences of how we meet the stresses in our lives while releasing the energies that could begin a downward spiral into self pity and pessimism. Five cords of wood turned out to be a gift, one I grumbled about receiving until it led me a into a fresh self-care routine, one I continue to use throughout each day to ensure I tackle whatever comes with optimism, gratitude, and joy.
Until next time,