Articles, Stress Relief Toolkit

Outdoor statue of Mercury/Hermes the Greco-Roman messenger of the gods

Your Stress Relief Toolkit: Messenger of the Gods

April Heath

06/21/2024

Reducing stress by leveling up your communication skills

Image credit: Photo 33420995 © Trazvan | Dreamstime.com

As a Gemini, the Messenger of the Gods Mercury is my ruling planet, so communication is in my top 3 list of priorities. All. The. Time. 

That’s my way of saying I’m going to digress from massage and muscle health in this post. Let’s talk about the stress and mayhem caused by bad communication. 

When I say communication, I include conveying information as well as listening to other people and confirming each other’s meaning. Sorry for making it complicated, but honest to God, that’s what communication actually means.

Sometimes conversations are stressful.

Sometimes the stress is minor and goes away, but sometimes the stress is persistent and takes up residence inside our bodies. Of course, that’s when you come see me for a massage, but what about when the treatment is over? You go back to your life and without new skills, the cycle just starts all over again.

Sure, I’ll welcome you back for the next appointment. To be honest, being on your side means I’m happy to see you level up in your stress-resilience game. All I can do in this realm is share what I’ve learned on my own and what’s helped me.

Types of Conversational Styles

People develop habits of conversation styles – avoidant, confrontational, passive, passive-aggressive, or assertive. While assertiveness is the highest ranking on the scale of maturity, it’s not always feasible.

These styles are tools. Each has a place in our communication repertoire.

Having a Goal for any Given Conversation

Your goal for a conversation may be to get someone to take a certain action. It could be easy or hard, something they’d do willingly or begrudgingly. The main thing is to not let the stress linger and take up residence inside our bodies. The goal is to reach peace at the other side of the conversation.

Something practical you can do to manifest peace is improve your communication skills. Sometimes peace doesn’t come easy, because other people have different interests, values, and priorities. Peace often needs to be negotiated.

Consider this: peace negotiations require communication. It’s been said that peace is more than the absence of war. I find this must be true. Keeping silent just to keep the peace may work here and there, but ultimately tensions will erupt.

Not all emotions are pleasant, right? There’s anger, fear, jealousy, resentment, guilt, conflict, tension, and all that. If we resort to keeping our mouths shut to “keep the peace,” then the peace isn’t real. Fake peace is unsustainable.

I was raised to freely express happiness, joy, and excitement and the “good” emotions. The other, unladylike emotions were actively shut down. It’s taking me a long, long time to acknowledge my right to feel angry, afraid, jealous, resentful, guilty. If those are the feelings that surface, I am allowed to feel them. So are you.

The trick, of course, is choosing how and whether to express them. You can’t tell me your intuition has never signaled you to be suspicious. I believe that it’s right and appropriate to get angry over injustice. Even the “negative” emotions have a time, place, and purpose.

Let’s take envy. It doesn’t usually lead us to a good place within ourselves or in relation to others. However, isn’t it possible to envy someone’s car, pause, acknowledge the person’s right to their things, and then transform our envy into curiosity, inspiration, and motivation? 

Can’t we ask that person how they got that car? Wouldn’t it build a bridge to a more productive future if we got a step-by-step plan to level ourselves up so we could get the same model car for ourselves?

What do you do with unpleasant emotions when they surface though? How to communicate displeasure without losing your cool? How to let someone know you’re angry without scaring the living sh*t out of everyone around? 

A lot of people don’t like to admit when they’re afraid because it feels like exposing a vulnerability. In my opinion, it is exposing a vulnerability, so taking measures to make sure the person to whom you’re admitting fear is trustworthy is worth the investment.

A Powerful Tool – the 7 Challenges Workbook

Is there a communication method to convey fear without suffering an attack? If you’re up for an exploration, I recommend the New Conversations 7 Challenges workbook. It’s free to download.

If you’re tired of the results you get from people, the workbook will help.

If you’re tired of the results you get from yourself, the workbook will help.

If your conversations tend to circle around the same topic without getting anywhere, the workbook will help. 

If the “other person” never listens, the workbook will help. (But be prepared, you might be the one not listening).

I suggest having a practice partner. Once your communication skills improve, but no one else around you also improves, it starts to feel a bit isolating and lonely. I won’t lie. Going through the exercises takes guts and it won’t be easy right off the bat. There’s no grade, no degree, no certificate. The only thing at stake is whether or not your relationships improve.

Image credit: Photo 145019425 | African American Argument © Fizkes | Dreamstime.com

Audio-Visual Learning Tools

While I love the workbook, you might learn better from a video. For you, I recommend Communication Skills That Work by Marilyn Sherman. There’s actually a series of communication DVDs. They’re mostly for work environments, but let’s be honest. We spend a lot of time at work and need help there just as much as at home.

Another DVD in that series specifically about communication skills is Remarkable Communication Skills by Pamela Jett. What I remember best about this presentation was her technique on giving feedback. She calls it, “What I like best, next time…”

I’ve never been a fan of a critique sandwich. Jett’s technique is much more humane.

Those are a few different resources you can use to course-correct conversations before they go off the rails.


Let me know which ones you’re going to try. Scroll down below the green bar to leave a comment. All comments are welcomed and responded to.

Be well,

April


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aprilheathlmt@gmail.com

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