Building Buffers 1

28 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

People are not biologically or psychologically geared to be ‘on’ all the time. We are hardwired to have cycles of activity and rest, a fact that we ignore in the quest for success, or trying just to hold our heads above water in hard times. We need buffers in our lives.

Some off-the-cuff definitions for ‘buffer’:

  • Margin – a breathing space between yourself and your limits.
  • Leeway – the absence of pressure.
  • Padding – the presence of protection.

So, when we exercise our ability for conscious choice in our lives and put buffers in, we can give ourselves the breathing space we need, put off some of the pressures of modern life and protect ourselves from what can stress us out.

In the simplest scientific terms, stress is the experience of a load on the system. Ahem…overload, anyone?

Using the idea of ‘overload’, what actions can you take to off-load stress?

1.) Identify the stressor.
2.) Get to the root cause.
3.) Think up ways to address the stressor and its root cause: remove it, avoid it, change it, handle it.
4.) Don’t just try, apply the suggested changes systematically for a trial period to see how they work.

What’s one common stressor everyone has? Not enough time.

“Not enough time,” translates to “Too many activities,” and “Not enough help available.”

Break this down into its root causes:

Too many activities – Do you have to do everything you’re doing? Being involved in a lot of activities can make you lose sight of what your priorities really are.

Activities aren’t always accomplishments. Sometimes they’re just filler, distractions, or a cover-up for a more serious issue.

Take a good long look at the things you involve yourself with, and really think of what you’re paying for them with. Your life-time, plain and simple.

If you want all of them, then you have to accept what comes with them, stress and all. You can’t have it both ways.

For example: If you say keeping healthy is a priority, and then spend more time on the couch TV surfing, your actions shows what you really wanted to do. Good intentions don’t make up for actual action.

Look at why you’re doing what you’re doing. Get to the root cause. Going back to our example:

  • Your living room is set up so it doesn’t take a second thought to just plop in front of the TV and vegetate.
  • You have a pressing issue on your mind you’d rather not think about or deal with. Instead of exercise, you let TV drown it out.
  • You have the following excuses: you’re too tired, it’s too late, or, get this one, you don’t have the time, ha ha.

Not enough help available – Use your brains and your experience. Are you really, totally helpless?

Do some research and ask for help, don’t freeze up. What good will freezing up do? If you find yourself in a situation you don’t want, you can get yourself out of it.

If you learn from the situation, you can recognize the early warning signs and avoid a similar event.

  • You can unplug the TV and put it in the closet. You can set up the clothes, schedule and equipment you need for exercise. You can even set up the TV and DVD player for exercise DVD’s and sweat along. There’s even exercise you can do during the commercials.
  • You can set a time to be alone and face what it is that’s really bothering you. If you need more help, you can set up a date with a really good friend, or an appointment with a therapist.
  • You make time for your priorities.

You try out your exercise plans for 2 weeks. Observe the impact of the changes you made in your life.

If you like what happened, keep the changes and make them your new habit. If you don’t like the results, keep tweaking. Let it go — activities that don’t take you anywhere you want to go, things you don’t use anymore, stuff that weighs you down.

Leave things you need out so you can let some breathing room in.

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