Written by : Transcript – How to Stress Wisely with Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe 

Transcript – How to Stress Wisely with Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

Follow along with the transcript below for episode: How to Stress Wisely with Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

 

[INTRODUCTION]

 

[0:00:03] PF: Thank you for joining us for episode 476 of Live Happy Now. If you’re feeling more stressed than usual these days, you aren’t alone. Today, we’re going to find out why that is and what you can do about it. I’m your host, Paula Felps. This week, I’m joined by Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, an author, psychology instructor, and expert on resiliency. Her latest book, Stress Wisely: How to Be Well in an Unwell World, breaks down why the stress of today’s fast-paced world is having such a devastating effect on us, both physically and mentally. She’s here today to explain how we can manage that stress to become more resilient and even how we can proactively prepare for stress before it happens. Let’s have a listen.

 

[INTERVIEW]

 

[0:00:49] PF: Robyne, thank you so much for joining me on Live Happy Now.

 

[0:00:52] RHD: I am thrilled to spend time with you here, so thank you for the invitation.

 

[0:00:56] PF: I’m excited to have you. I received your book, Stress Wisely, and it is one of the most profound books on stress I have ever read. The time I’ve spent with this is really more than I would normally spend with a single book, because you approach it in so many different ways. Before we dig into that, tell the listeners what led you to write this book.

 

[0:01:19] RHD: Oh, well, first, thank you for that very generous feedback. My area of research is around human resiliency. I’ve been really curious. I’ve been teaching and doing research almost 20 years now on that area. One of the through-line, Paula, that just kept coming to the surface was that persons who were able to work with their stress systems, like people who had strategies to work with their stress system, they were so better positioned to be able to manage life when things went off the rails, or when stressors became really apparent.

 

As I was doing this work on resiliency, I just really felt that calling to be able to say, hey, we got to shine some light and spend some good intention about understanding our nervous system, because that’s really going to unlock how we can really, truly be well.

 

[0:02:06] PF: Mm-hmm. One of the things that I love about your approach is it’s very knowledgeable and scientific, but it’s like talking to a friend. It is really like you, take us by hand, it’s like, “Hey, we’re going to go on this little journey through this thing called stress.” It’s very friendly in the tone. Was that just a natural thing for you to write it that way?

 

[0:02:28] RHD: I feel very fortunate and, again, being in a position where as someone who really struggled with school, so I was not a really super strong student, I really navigated with a lot of challenges academically, until I learned that with my ADHD and learning disabilities that I just process information in a different way. Despite being able to go on and being able to complete multiple degrees and have this really great academic success, something that’s always been true to me is I love to share information in a way that resonates with how information lands with me.

 

I’m really not interested in that notion of expertise. I’m interested in allyship, where walk with me and help me understand, because that’s the learning that really resonates with me. Again, to be true, to be able to do this work, I felt I wanted to represent it in that similar way. That’s why I’m just really appreciative when I hear folks say that, hey, this was a pretty kind approach to be talking about a very complex topic, which is what I really strive to do with how I prepared that material.

 

[0:03:29] PF: A lot of books, or articles that we read about stress, it’s like, how to overcome it. It’s like, this is something we should beat, which just stresses us out more, because it’s like, “I can’t. Stress is bigger than I am.” You really take a different approach in that you talk about making stress an ally.

 

[0:03:48] RHD: Absolutely.

 

[0:03:50] PF: Talk about what that looks like when you make stress an ally and how you even begin doing that.

 

[0:03:56] RHD: Yeah. You’re absolutely right. Right now, it seems like, everything is going to kill us, right? Stress is one of those things, where they say, 90% of all diseases are associated with high levels of stress. It seems like, it’s just permeating every aspect of our well-being and our culture. Then we hear that the remedy is to try and get rid of stress. Where I ran into a bit of just this disconnect was stress is actually our first line of defense. Our stress system is designed to keep us alive. It’s not meant to do us this harm. What I really fell into was this notion that the way that we’re living our lives very much is going against our biology.

 

When we start to re-imagine that relationship with stress as in like, hey, this is my internal system that’s letting me know what’s okay and what’s not okay, letting me know when do I need to rest? When do I need to focus? When do I need to regroup? Again, when do I need to just find a different way through it? What I really started to get curious about is how do we change that narrative that, again, stress isn’t the enemy. It’s the doses of cortisol that we’re getting on a daily basis that we’re now using as our default setting. Our default setting is this sense of urgency that everything’s a crisis, and that hustle and that just never enough feeling is really this idea that that’s just not sustainable. Instead, learning how do we re-regulate these nervous systems, so we can work in partnership with all of our parts, versus working against ourselves is what we started to think about in this work.

 

[0:05:33] PF: I love that you acknowledge the fact that our bodies were not built for today’s world.

 

[0:05:38] RHD: Not even close.

 

[0:05:39] PF: Talk about that. Why do you say that we are not equipped to live in the society we’ve created?

 

[0:05:45] RHD: Well, I think the biggest one, even just if we come at it from a physiological perspective, our bodies and our brains are not designed to be in this place of omnipresence. What I mean by that is we’re not meant to have these 18, 20-hour days where we don’t have opportunities for rest and recovery. What’s happened right now is we’re creating this artificial ecosystem where we’re calling this high performance, or we’re just calling this the way that the world is now. But the reality is our nature is very much designed to have ebbs and flows, to have seasons of high productivity, absolutely. But then, we need time to rest and to recharge and just really enjoy that.

 

Right now, again, I think we’re doing a big disservice by suggesting that everything needs to be this complicated, and this full, versus being able to priority management, the things that matter most and make those things matter most, so we can enjoy the process.

 

[0:06:43] PF: What’s so difficult is we keep adding more things that need to be done. Even some of those things are, “I need to relax. I need to build in time to meditate, or whatever my form of relaxation is.” Then it becomes just one more thing on this list. You get stressed out looking at it, because you can’t get to all those things.

 

[0:07:03] RHD: Absolutely. It would be a full-time job in itself just to do all the things that they say we ought to be doing and we should be doing, or we could be doing for our well-being. One of the things that when we’re doing this research that really was striking for me was, for example, we learned that loneliness will kill you faster than a bad diet. Yet, we’re not talking about social connection. As we are talking about what’s the nice next hype cycle of what nutrition program we should be following.

 

Again, it’s reimagining that, okay, well, what is it that we actually need? Really, much going back to some of those fundamentals of ensuring that we’re meeting all of the parts of our well-being. So often, again, when we talk about well-being, I think people are really talking about health and you know what? Yeah, health is associated with the physical self. Well-being is the emotional self, it’s the spiritual self, it’s all of the parts of us that make up our identity. I think coming at this from a different perspective of radically simplifying the things that matter most, where we’ll get the best return on our investment.

 

I can give you an example of that. Okay, just recently I was at a huge event and they were all asking me what supplements should I be taking, or how cold should the cold plunge be? They’re just really talking about a lot of those pieces of information in the media that are making some really big promises to radically transform our lives. They’re like, “Which one should I do, Robyne?” I said, well, I can ask you this. Do you sleep? They said, “Well, no.” Then I said, well, you’re really stepping over a $100 bill to try and pick up a penny if you’re looking at supplements, because if you’re not having a good night’s sleep, or using naps to help recover, none of the supplementation is going to work. You’re trying to find a way to replace something that’s so fundamental to our sense of well-being, which you just can’t do with supplementation and things like that.

 

[0:08:58] PF: Yeah, we do try to find this answer without looking at the actual cure for what’s going on. As you brought up, sleep is such a huge factor in how we’re doing well overall and stress completely robs us of that. Can you talk about some of the other ways we are affected when we are living in this world of constant stimulation?

 

[0:09:18] RHD: Yeah. Well, I think one interesting area that we’re seeing right now in the research is that as we see, for example, emotional health starting to get quite bumpy and there’s a lot of turbulence right now about emotional health and mental health, one of the things that I’m really seeing is we’re not really giving ourselves the spaciousness to be able to process our emotions. I’ll give you this example. Imagine when you’re a little kid and you’re walking home from school after you’ve had a bad day, right? You’re holding your backpack and you’re walking down the street, chances are in the background, your brain is processing all of the day’s events, right? Maybe you’re not even giving it a lot of conscious thought, but in the background, your brain is organizing the learning, it’s making space to process all of it

 

However, now, when that little one is walking home from school, chances are they’re scrolling on a phone. They’re just adding more content constantly in. It’s the steady stream of over-information, and what happens is our brain never gets to really do its job around putting things into place. Even just that notion that we’re robbing ourselves the time to process thoughts and feelings and learnings, and we’re just always on this treadmill of consumption, versus having time to be a curator and organize some of those thoughts and feelings.

 

Then usually, what we see happens, Paula, is at the end of the day, you might just pass out, because you’re exhausted. You’re not falling asleep. You’re just passing out. Then, because we haven’t processed the day, we’ll usually get a cortisol spike, I think usually between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., and we wake up and we feel the sense of worry. We feel the sense of dread, because our body has just got this huge hit of cortisol. Again, we’re in this cycle where our default setting isn’t really manageable to the reality of how we want to be in our day and really how we want to feel most of the time.

 

[0:11:10] PF: Yeah. It’s like, our day is we just grab it and try to hold on. It’s given a whole different meaning to seize the day. It’s like, now I grab your hat and hold the hell on, kind of thing is how you feel. I think of that from an adult perspective. Then as you mentioned, the child, kids that are growing up in this always on environment, how is that rewiring them for the world? Because we know the studies are showing, each generation is subsequently less happy and more anxious and that is alarming. What does this have? What role does this play in it?

 

[0:11:46] RHD: Oh, absolutely. You’re absolutely right. It is very concerning, because the world is unwell and our children very much are unwell in this world in some cases. Again, what I really think is happening is that we’ve created that baseline, or our emotional home of that place of anxiety, of that place of, again, I don’t think we’re ever meant, or designed to have access to all of the information that we have. We know historically, there’s always been unrest in the world, yet we were sheltered from it in some cases, because we didn’t have this 24-hour news cycle, or this news feed always showing us the worst and all that noise and negativity. Our brains weren’t designed to be activated in that state of threat, like they are all the time.

 

I can share with you, when I’m working with young ones and especially adolescents is there’s not a lot of hope right now in some places. They’re not really excited about growing up, because they’re not really seeing examples of grownups who are happy and grounded and really thriving. Right now, they’re seeing very exhausted people who, again, are just, as you said, they’re just barely holding on. I think it’s really important that we find ways to model that, yes, we want to be productive and have these good livelihoods and this solid lifestyle. But there’s also room for play and joy and this all being meaningful and worthwhile in the process.

 

[0:13:13] PF: Yeah. As adults model that, we’re not giving them anything to look forward to.

 

[0:13:19] RHD: Yeah. I can tell you from a very – with radical candor, I recall several years ago, sitting at the kitchen table and my oldest at the time, he was there, and we were chatting and I had a very difficult, no good rotten day at work and this was becoming a theme. He said to me. He goes, “Mama, you told me that if I work really hard and that I set my intentions in the right way,” he said, “I could be anything that I wanted to be when I grow up. Is that true?” I was like, “Yes, Hunter. You can be anything, as long as you set your course in that right way and you work hard.”

 

He paused, Paula, and he looked at me and he said, “Why can’t you? Why can’t you be anything when you grow up?” Because he goes, “Right now, mama,” he goes, “I just can’t imagine, this is what you want to be. This is what you want to do.”

 

[0:14:03] PF: Well, first of all, what an insightful son you have.

 

[0:14:07] RHD: Absolutely. It was this emotional two by four to the face. It was just this moment of just stark clarity, where I realized, I was modeling behavior to my children of like, you know what? Other people can be happy. Other people can have this. But I was just in these trenches and repeating what I wasn’t repairing. It was a really big wake-up call for me to say, “You know what? I do want to take this chance. I do want to write these books. I do want to explore my career, so I can model for my kids that there’s another way to go about building a livelihood and a lifestyle.”

 

[0:14:42] PF: We’ll be right back. Now, it’s time for Casey Johnson, Live Happy Marketing Manager and cat owner, to talk to us about PrettyLitter.

 

[CASEY JOHNSON]

 

[0:14:49] PF: Casey, welcome back.

 

[0:14:50] CJ: Thanks. With three cats, PrettyLitter has become an essential part of our cat care routine. I must say, I understand why it’s called PrettyLitter, because the packaging and the crystals are gorgeous. They live up to the name. Plus, they’re super lightweight and lasts up to a month. That means, changing out the litter boxes less often, which is always a plus when you have a cat. Even better, they’re delivered right to my doorstep and come in a small lightweight bag. Now, I don’t have huge containers taking up space in our small condo.

 

[0:15:18] PF: That’s awesome. We’re going to give that same opportunity to our listeners. They can go to prettylitter.com/livehappy and use the code LIVEHAPPY to save 20% on their first order and get a free cat toy. It’s prettylitter.com/livehappy, code LIVEHAPPY to save 20% and get that free cat toy. Again, prettylitter.com/livehappy, code LIVEHAPPY. Now, let’s get back to the show.

 

[SPONSOR MESSAGE]

 

[0:15:44] PF: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. As we’re discussing today, most of us are feeling a lot of stress these days. One thing that can add to that stress is comparing ourselves to others on social media. It’s so easy to start feeling like your life doesn’t measure up. But with help from therapy, you can learn to focus on what you want, instead of what others are doing. Therapy can improve your coping skills and change the way you look at your world. BetterHelp is a great place to start. All you have to do is fill out a brief questionnaire and you’ll get matched with a licensed therapist. You can always change therapists at any time at no extra charge to make sure you get the therapist who’s right for you. It’s completely online, so it’s flexible, convenient, and works with your schedule. Stop comparing and start focusing with BetterHelp. Visit betterhelp.com/livehappy today to get 10% off your first month. That’s BetterHelp, H-E-L-P.com/livehappy.

 

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

 

[0:16:46] PF: One of the things I want to talk about is you talk about proactively planning for stress.

 

[0:16:51] RHD: Yes.

 

[0:16:52] PF: it’s so simple, but genius. It’s like, yes. Because we know it’s coming. Let’s talk about that. Talk about what you mean to plan for stress and then how that’s going to change the way it affects us.

 

[0:17:04] RHD: Yeah. The strategy we talk about is cope ahead of time. In our culture, many of us have been conditioned, or raised that we need to just go amongst our day and then stress will happen and then we have to recover from it. It’s this idea that the stressor comes first and then we do recovery. The reality is, our evenings and our weekends, they’re not long enough to repair all the things that we need to fix. Instead, the conversation switches to, okay, if this is what my day looks like, or this season, or this week, how do I make sure I’m coping ahead of time?

 

That means, for example, even things like, planning out your meals, because the last thing anyone wants to do at 6.00 is to try and figure out what they want for dinner, right? We’re not doing this because we’re really adopting the hype cycle about meal prep and all the delivery things. It’s nothing about that. It’s simply, you can decide that you’re going to have pancakes for dinner, but just make that decision in the morning when you have good energy, versus waiting till you have that 6.00 energy that doesn’t want to be able to make another decision, or a choice. We jokingly talk about how that’s a swear word in our house like, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Don’t you dare talk like that in this house.

 

[0:18:15] PF: Watch your mouth, son.

 

[0:18:17] RHD: Watch your mouth, exactly. That notion of cope ahead of time, where if you’re going to have a stressful day, a stressful season, or even, let’s say, a difficult conversation, or a difficult interaction, instead of booking an appointment, or a meeting right afterwards, give yourself the gift of blocking an hour in your calendar, so you can go for a walk, or you can call a trusted friend, or maybe even just do some online shopping to find some digital dopamine. Whatever it is, it’s totally cool. It’s the idea that you plan ahead of time. You forecast where there likely might be a few little bumps and you already have a strategy outlined.

 

The other part, too, when we think about cope ahead of time, right now, our calendars are so full. There’s no time for anything to go off the rails. That way, when a little irritant happens in our day, it almost feels catastrophic, because we’re so scheduled. Even this notion of operating at a solid 80% of the capacity of most of the time, 80% of the time, and then you have 20% for wiggle room, if things pop up, or the unexpected happens.

 

[0:19:26] PF: We can’t change the amount of things we have to do. Overall, we cannot change our must-do list. We can’t change the hours we have in a day. How do we change our mindset to embrace this better? As you say, stress wisely.

 

[0:19:43] RHD: Again, this is the idea, I think, that’s so important is that we’re operating a place within our values. What I mean by that is ensuring we’re doing the things that matter most and make the matter most for the right reasons. I can give you a quick example, where when people show me their calendar and we say, okay, what are those must do’s? What’s not even, that’s non-negotiable? Often, things that we might feel are non-negotiables, or must dos, actually might not be the way that they are. But we’ve just told ourselves that they are.

 

I could give you another quick example. I remember one time, my son, he’s off at university, he called, he’s like, “Hey, I’m on my way home with some friends.” I said, “Okay, but not yet. I just need a few more hours, because I need to make our house look like nobody lives there.” That’s the goal, right? Anyway, so I’m frantically running around, trying to get the house looking like nobody lives there. What was so amazing, in the meantime, he had contacted his siblings who were home. Hunter said like, “What is she doing? What’s mom doing that’s so big that we can’t come home yet?” The little brother goes downstairs and he sees me wiping the baseboards, right? I’m wiping the baseboards and Jack says to his brother, “She’s wiping the white stuff along the bottom of the room.” Hunter is like, “Okay.”

 

Anyway, so a couple hours later, Hunter and his classmates come back to the house and they walk in and Hunter takes his friends, his new friends from university right into the dining room. He’s showing them the baseboards. He’s like, “Boys, I want you to see how clean my mother’s baseboards are.” I was mortified. I was so mortified. I’m like, “Dude, I can’t believe you did that. You just outed me like that.” He’s just like, “Hey.” He’s like, “Mom, if you’re going to put it in the effort, I just want it acknowledged.” It was this awesome moment, again, where I was just like, I felt I had to do that before he came home. Paula, he lives in dorms. I can’t even tell you the state of –

 

[0:21:37] PF: Right. If there’s not food on the floor, it’s clean.

 

[0:21:40] RHD: Exactly. In the moment it felt that I had to do this. This was so important. As soon as we take that moment to zoom out and look at the big picture, a lot of this stuff really doesn’t feel as must do anymore. I tell you, kids need a present parent. They don’t need a perfect parent. They just need us to be present.

 

[0:22:03] PF: Yeah. I love that. Prioritizing, you talked about it a little bit. How do we start that process? Because we’ve got so many things. Like, list the most important thing. Well, I have three of those.

 

[0:22:15] RHD: Yes.

 

[0:22:16] PF: Where do we get this prioritization going for us?

 

[0:22:21] RHD: Again, one of the things that we talk about is making the invisible visible, right? So many of us, especially when we’re the predominant person in the household, we hold so much knowledge that literally it’s like, we’re these oracles, right? We have all of this knowledge in our head, but none of it’s visible. As soon as we start to make it visible, so if we even just grab a piece of paper, or a whiteboard and just start mapping out all the things that we feel we need to do, and then again, just looking at it, taking that step back and being like, is this a must do? Or is this, it would be nice to do? Is this really an alignment with how I want to feel? How I want to be, especially when we think about all that invisible labor in with our family systems.

 

Again, once we start looking at it and getting it out of our heads, putting it on paper, we’re going to realize that there’s some places where we can get some clarity, and especially around simplification. Things do not need to be as complex, I think, as we’re making them out to be right now.

 

[0:23:23] PF: But it’s almost become our way to just complicate things. Why are we doing that?

 

[0:23:28] RHD: Well, I think it’s very much because we’re trying to fit in. We’re trying to fit in with the people around us, versus finding our sense of belonging. Our sense of belonging, when we’re with the right community, we don’t feel the need to try and compete. If you’re with your people, with the right friends and the right community, this isn’t a competition, because I want you to win as well. It’s those people who, yeah, they can show up and have a barbecue and we’re not feeling the need to run around the house to make it look that no one lives there. We’re not feeling that need, that everything has to be perfect. Because for the right people, that’s not what they’re interested in. They’re interested in the people in the space, not what some of these spaces look like. I think just that competition sometimes and that social comparison, just trying to fit in and be included.

 

I also think as well, there’s this notion that we’ve lost sight that we have way more control in this whole situation than we really acknowledge, because it doesn’t have to be this way. We can step out of this race at any time and we can run our own race. We can do it our own way. Again, I think so often, we give up so much of our ability to choose and identify what matters most to my family, or to my community. We just get pulled along in this current. But we can say, we’re done. We can say, “This isn’t how I want to feel most of the time.”

 

That’s what I really encourage people, when we think about these practices that are going to foster self-care, or self-stewardship, it’s not like, what do you want to do, or how do you want to look, or what do you want to achieve? The question is, how do you want to feel? I know personally, I want to feel present. I want to feel grounded. I want to have space for joy. I want to have space for spontaneity. I want to have space for us to be able to enjoy our days. They’re very, very special to be able to have these opportunities.

 

[0:25:16] PF: As you say that, you can almost hear people saying, “Yes, but.” Because we think, “Oh, yeah. That sounds great. That sounds great for you, but you don’t understand how busy my life is, or how much I have going on.” You have all people understand that.

 

[0:25:32] RHD: I do.

 

[0:25:33] PF: When someone is sitting in your office and says that to you, what is your response?

 

[0:25:39] RHD: First of all, my response would be to sit beside the person ear-to-ear, not eye-to-eye and acknowledge that that reality for them is real. That right now, it doesn’t seem like there’s another way, other than this fullness that we’ve created. Because we’ve created these lives, right? Again, I do recognize that there’s an abundance of privilege to be able to say, take a break, step back, because some persons are navigating some big complicated situations. Even with that, there is a way to do it in a gentler, more compassionate way.

 

I would want to sit beside that person and say, yeah, what you’re feeling is absolutely real and you’re not alone. I would love to show you a different way. Even just one of the questions I really love to ask people to move them out in that place of scarcity, where it’s like, I don’t have enough of time, I’m always chasing, hustling. I love to ask the person this question is, what does it feel like when you are connected with your favorite self, your favorite part of you? Now, this isn’t your best self, or your wisest self, or your most integrated self. It’s like, what are you feeling when you’re your favorite version of you?

 

I love how this question just dismantles a lot of the roles and obligations and the shoulds and I have tos, and it just allows people to reconnect with the parts of them that are like, “Hey.” I hear things follow like, “When I’m my favorite self, I’m not worrying as much. When I’m my favorite self, I roll with things a little better. I don’t hold things so tightly. Maybe I’m a little bit more child-like, and I’m up to new adventures, or maybe there’s a curiosity, or a silliness.” Again, I think we can reactivate and reconnect with the parts of us that are really, really looking to shine and come out, because they’ve worked very hard, but I think they need to play as hard as well.

 

[0:27:34] PF: Is a lot of it just recognizing what you want that self to look like?

 

[0:27:39] RHD: I believe so. Again, self-awareness right now is the most critical social-emotional skill that we can have, the self-awareness, when we actually just take a step back and we look at that pig picture and say, “Okay is this working for me? Is this actually how I want to feel? Is this actually how I want my days to be?” As somebody who, I myself, and I write about this in my first book, I experienced a very significant, a catastrophic car accident when I was 16-years-old. That event was very much this turning point for me personally. What happens when you’ve had these very difficult experiences and this traumatic event is that you get this clarity and this perspective that comes, where I often ask myself at the end of the day, it’s like, “If this is my last day today, is this what I want to be doing? Is this what I want to be feeling? Is this where I want to be spending my time and my energy?”

 

Again, the reality, not to sound doom and gloom about forecasting the end of our days, but there’s something pretty powerful when you pause and be like, “Okay, if this is my last day, am I going to look back on and said, it was a good day, or I made the best of it?” I think, again, just that awareness and those radical shifts, they’re not these – it’s interesting. It’s the little things done well and those little things aren’t that little after all.

 

[0:29:02] PF: Yeah. One thing that I’ve started doing, a lot of it is due to the recent death of some aunts. That has given me an appreciation for things that I have to do that I don’t want to do. But the fact that I can do them, the fact that I’m healthy and I’m strong and I can go do these things, it’s really interesting how that reframes the things that you don’t care for in life.

 

[0:29:29] RHD: Absolutely. I could share with you just recently, I was working with, again, at a large event, and somebody was saying that, “Oh, gosh. I would do anything for my kids. I would do absolutely anything for them.” I’m like, “That’s great.” A woman actually said, “I would die for them. There’s nothing I would not do for my family.” I said, “Interesting.” I said, “But would you live for them? Would you take care of yourself for them? Would you prioritize your own well-being and mental health, so you can be here for as long as possible in the most healthy way?” It was just this really interesting moment.

 

One woman actually asked me like, “Okay. Well, what do you do each day to look after yourself, Robyne?” I shared some very simple practices that I like to do. Another woman said, “Well, don’t you feel guilty? Don’t you feel guilty for doing that?” I said, “No, I feel guilty if I yell at my kids. I feel guilty if I yell at my husband,” or I’m sure with my husband when I know there’s things that I can do to be the best version of myself and I don’t do them. I don’t feel guilty for taking care of myself. I feel guilty when I don’t do those things. Then my family’s caught up in the blast radius.

 

[0:30:34] PF: I love that. I love thinking that way, and I love being able to remind ourselves that self-care is taking care of everyone around you, because they’re all going to benefit from that.

 

[0:30:44] RHD: Absolutely.

 

[0:30:46] PF: We have possibly a difficult fall coming up. No matter where you stand on anything, let’s say. There’s a lot of stress, and it’s already starting to bubble up. Using what you teach in your book, how can we approach this and plan for the stress and make it an easier time?

 

[0:31:07] RHD: You’re asking such a great question. There’s so many different ways that we can approach it. I think what’s really important, when things feel out of control, or there’s uncertainty or division, one of the things that we can really lean into are habits, routines, or rituals, where we can make sure that we are okay. We know, for example, that morning routine, taking a few minutes each morning to whether it’s go for a walk, or just write in your journal, or have that cup of coffee and just be present, and not start our day opening ourselves up to the world. We want to make sure that we just take a few minutes to ground ourselves. Then when we are able to take that time, make sure our head and our heart are okay. Then we open up to the big world that’s out there, we’ll be in a better position to cope and manage with what’s going on.

 

The other thing is I think that there’s also a place for avoiding certain conversations, if you just know that the outcome isn’t going to be positive for either person. What I mean by that is there’s some conversations just be willing to walk away from. I think it was actually the actor, Keanu Reeves, who said, he got to the point in his life where if somebody told him that one plus one equals five, he would say, “Cool, you’re right,” and walk away. Stop engaging in battles with people who just live to be upset. Some people just live to be upset, and recognizing that that’s not how you want to feel. There’s just some conversations.

 

That doesn’t mean we turn to blind eye to big, significant social justice issues that are unfolding. I’m not suggesting that we come passive. I just want to make sure that we are as well-resourced as possible to make sure that we are okay and our family systems are okay, because that’s our best chance to weather a difficult season.

 

[0:32:54] PF: I love that. There’s a lot to unpack when we’re talking about stress. But right now, what is the one thing that listeners can take away with them, about how they can live their lives with a little bit less stress and learn to manage what stress they do have?

 

[0:33:11] RHD: Yeah, again, a great question. I think where we would start is if we think about the power of our relationships. What I mean by that is we’re not meant to do all of this alone. So often, when we’re under high levels of stress and have lots of cortisol in our bloodstreams, what happens is we feel this tendency to lone wolf it. That we have to just be more stoic and just hustle through, push through. The reality is when we show up for one another and we nurture those relationships and connect with that collective humanity, it’s going to serve us a lot better.

 

Pushing away from that driver, that tendency to shut down, and instead of giving ourselves a timeout, give ourselves a time in, where we are able to connect with the people that matter most to us and be able to see those communities, because that sense of belonging will help us weather whatever stressors come our way.

 

[0:34:01] PF: Robyne, you have a lot to teach us. I thank you for sharing some of it today. I do. I appreciate you coming on the show, and love this book and would love to talk to you some more.

 

[0:34:10] RHD: I would love that. Take good care and thank you for this chance to chat today.

 

[END OF INTERVIEW]

 

[0:34:18] PF: That was Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, talking about resilience and how we can better respond to stress. If you’d like to learn more about Robyne, follow her on social media, check out her book, Stress Wisely, or discover her online classes to learn about resilience, just visit us at livehappy.com and click on this podcast episode. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for our weekly Live Happy Newsletter. Every week, we’ll drop a little bit of joy in your inbox with the latest stories, podcast info, and even a happy song of the week. That’s all we have time for today. We’ll meet you back here again next week for an all-new episode. Until then, this is Paula Felps, reminding you to make every day a happy one.

 

[END]

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