3 stress techniques I learned when I was a cook

If you are sad or lonely or scared or frustrated or angry or whatever- which is all very natural in this period in time – you can use the techniques I share in this video and blog.

Click the picture to start the video or read the text under the picture.

When I had a restaurant, I was also a cook. Most of the time people where happy with the food and they would say so. But sometimes someone made a complaint and I felt miserable the rest of the day. I’m a perfectionist and if anyone is not happy because of something I do it makes me want to cry.

But one day I thought: “Wait, that’s not fair, because I do not pay attention to all the people who are happy. I only pay attention to the people who complain”. So I thought: “I’m going to change that”.

Instead of focusing on the people who are unhappy, I started focusing on people who were happy.

The second thing I did was to ask people around me to support me. So some nights when I was busy cooking and felt a bit sad or overwhelmed, I would tell my waitresses to pass on all the compliments they got.

That was very funny, because I had an open kitchen and every time a waitress who was passing me with the dirty dishes told me: “they really liked it, Ellen” and the clients wondered what we were doing, but it worked and it lifted my spirits.

The third thing I did was that I started to sing silly songs when I was fed up. My waitresses knew that they had to avoid me for a while when I started to sing very loud, or when was singing different songs than the ones that we heard on the loudspeakers,

In this way I survived all these stressful nights as a cook in my own restaurant.

Now I am in lockdown in Spain during the corona crisis. I am alone in my house and I use the same techniques.

1. I pay attention to the happy things. I am healthy. Period. This is something I pay attention to every day.

2: I ask for support. Last weekend I missed nature and I asked my community on Facebook if people who go out in nature (in the countries where that is still allowed) if they could make a picture and a video for me, so I could join them.

I received more than a hundred pictures and videos of nature from all over the world. It made me so happy. Today I got so many birthday wishes and it all helps. I don’t feel lonely. It is so good to receive positive messages next to the negative news. It is something to feel grateful for.

3: The third thing I do when I am alone and a bit sad, is that I start to make jokes. For example, I go and sit on my bicycle for the only reason that I can. The other thing I do is that I start to sing silly songs for my Spanish neighbours.

One of my favourite is a Dutch song: “Op een onbewoond eiland, zit je helemaal alleen” which translates to “On a deserted island you are all alone”. I sing this every day, to practice my vocal cords because I don’t speak so much, but most of all because I hope that one of my Spanish neighbours starts to whistle this song back to me. I haven’t heard it yet, but who knows.

Now I share these same tips with you. Use these 3 techniques to lift your spirits and take action.

Tip 1: Focus your attention on what makes you happy or grateful. There is always something that is good or positive in your life.

Tip 2: Ask for support, even before you feel stressed or depressed, so the people around you know what to do when it happens. For example: I had this one technique that works when I feel stressed, and I only needed to ask my waitresses this one question – to pass on the compliments from the clients – and they knew what to do. And it worked!

Tip 3: Use humor. Don’t laugh at other peoples fears, but try to make good jokes that you can share with others.

I am going to share more tips on how to survive self isolation or lockdown with you soon, because I have spent 2 years alone in nature and I have learned so much, and that is why I am not sad or stressed out at the moment.

To be continued!

Ellen de Dreu

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