From Tracie: What Works - Stepping Back

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What Works - Stepping Back

I have been giving a lot of thought to the theme Kate chose for this month's Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse: What Works. Possibly because I've asked myself that more than once this month. What works? What do I need to do this minute, this hour, this day, to make it through.

There are a lot of steps I go through when I find myself in crisis, or dealing with a hard patch of road on the healing path. Tips and tricks and healthy coping mechanisms (I try to stay far away from the unhealthy ones).

Today I want to share what works when I find myself feeling overwhelmed and moving toward deep depression or crisis mode. If I catch the symptoms early and do something about it, sometimes reaching that crisis point can be averted.

How To Reduce Stress Or Anxiety

Learn when it is time to step back.
When I start to feel overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, I have learned to stop and ask myself: What is overwhelming me? What is contributing to my stress?

Often there is something relatively small - like reading too much news - that is pushing me towards the edge.

If I know I'm having a hard week, and dealing with tough things, delving into news stories isn't what is best for me. I can turn the channel, and focus on something else. The news will still be there when I'm ready to turn it back on.

The same is true of social media. Facebook. Twitter. Support groups. Blogs. There are days when I can be a support for someone else, or days when reaching out for support is a good thing. But there are also days when I have no business putting myself in those positions.

When it is time to step back - actually do it!
Stepping back isn't mean, or rude, or irresponsible, or selfish, or any other negative word. Stepping back can be healthy. It gives you a chance to regain clarity, and return strengthened.

Stepping back also doesn't mean shutting down. Don't confuse the need to step back with hiding, or avoiding, or denying. I have done those things in the past, and it wasn't good.

Stepping back is about looking at you life in this moment - recognizing what is pushing you near the edge or over the edge - and setting a boundary for yourself. Maybe it would be no news stories for three days. Or shutting down the computer for a weekend. These are both things I have done in the past with great results.

Remember: Stepping back isn't a quick fix.
Setting a boundary and taking a step back won't be a quick fix for your entire life. What it will do is give you a chance to set aside something that is causing you unneeded stress, so you can focus your energies elsewhere.

It is a chance to focus on healing, or to just have a small break. The rest of the healing work you do will still be work, but hopefully reducing some of the stress will make that work go a little smoother.

Stepping back isn't just for people who are trying to heal.
This is something that can be good for anyone. With the clarity of stepping back, you may find that there is something in your life (it could be a choice you are making over and over again, a relationship, things around you, or a job or volunteer position) that has become unhealthy for you - even if it didn't start out that way.

Sometimes a thing starts out good, and is can still be good for other people, but you realize after a time that it has become unhealthy for you. If that is the case, you might need to do more than just step back, you might need to take a long break or cut it out of your life entirely.

Have you ever taken a step back from something and found the time away to be helpful?

There is still time to submit a blog post for this month's Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. I would love to read your stories, and your tips for what works as you walk the healing path. 


  1. Yes, I have. I know when to say know, too, but a few times, I've gone back to the person I said yes to and said, "I'm sorry; I know I said yes, but I've decided that I really need to cut back, and I have to decline." (Of course, I didn't wait til the last minute to do this.) I'm pretty good at setting limits/boundaries with my time, but I think it's important to mention that it's okay to back out, too, delegate, or find a replacement when your mental health depends on it. Great post.

    1. Yes! I love that you added that. Sometimes you have to make a new decision about something you have agreed to participate in - and that is OKAY!

  2. My sponsor recently told me I had to start taking "me time". Even though I still have to do all the things, I have started taking that nap, or going to the favorite store to wander (and maybe buy or maybe not). I feel less overwhelmed by all the things, even though less of them have been done now. Fuck it, the dust bunnies will be in the corner tomorrow whether I vacuum today or not, right? So imma take a nap. Time away gives new perspective that way. Thank you for this.

    1. yes! "Me time" is so important!

      I have learned that I need at least an hour every day alone - with no one talking to me, or asking me questions, to be able to recharge. Even if that hour comes late at night when everyone else is asleep. I need that time.

      Happy to hear you are taking time for yourself, too. Name those dust bunnies, and let them stay a few extra days. They aren't hurting anyone.

  3. great words this morning and needed to hear others feel like this. I'm still living with my daughter and family for another month it seems and as the time gets closer I just feel more over whelmed with situations so steppping back and just trying to be still is well needed. hugs and thanks for all you share

    1. Thanks, Jacki. I hope you are able to find some time to step back and be still in the next month to make your transition smoother.

  4. It is very hard sometimes to step back in life. Such great advice!!

  5. Hi Tracie,

    I found this post so helpful in my own life right now. I'm very proud of you that you are listening to yourself and then responding to your own individual needs and limits at that moment. Very wise words of sharing. Good and healing thoughts to you.


  6. What a great post, Tracie! I try to take a step back every day, by taking a breather. I breathe in, breathe out and STOP. And yes, if things are worse I will take a time out to recoup and put the finger on where it went awry, to help me pinpoint it earlier next time. It is all about practice!