Over the last couple of weeks, many of my clients have been stating the same thing. They say that they have no margin. This has been an ongoing issue throughout the pandemic, but with the addition of the holidays, it has increased exponentially.
What does having no margin mean? For most people, it is that there is no pause in the response time to any stressful situation or emotion. When people have margin, there is the ability to pause before reacting. The ability to engage in rational and logical thought processes. The ability to utilize tools for management of stress, anxiety, anger, and depression.
When people do not have margin (or feel already pushed to the edge of management), there is no pause before reacting. There is no ability to engage in rational and logical thought. The ability to use any helpful tools seem to vanish.
The result is immediate reaction. Going zero to 100 in microseconds, less than a blink of the eye. There is no pause, no thought, no tools. Only reaction. And generally the reaction is very big, sometimes very out of character, and hard to reign back in.
Someone cuts you off while driving. With margin, we can pause and be thankful there was no accident or use a stress reducing tool such as deep breathing or grounding. Without margin, we are yelling, cursing, sometimes confronting people, and generally letting it ruin the rest of our day or even our week.
Unable to spend holidays with family members due to Covid19. With margin, we can pause and be grateful for our health and healthy family members or use logic and rational thought to know that no situation lasts forever and the pandemic will end and we can see more family then. Without margin, we are sad, angry, and feeling overwhelming grief at the loss of normalcy. We can let it affect us for days, weeks or even months without margin.
Lack of margin has a way of building up and exploding. We may be able to manage the first few times someone cuts us off or the first couple of times we have to say no to family gatherings. But the more these things add up, the less margin we have and the less ability we have to control our response.
So what do we do? Firstly, we must acknowledge that we are short of margin. We must tell ourselves the truth about our capacity to pause and respond – the truth is that we usually are not going to be able to. We must give ourselves grace because our current state of mind and emotions is what it is.
That being said, we do have moments in this lack of margin where we can find quiet to pause and reflect and think rationally and logically. We can find moments for meditation and calming. During these times, we can also reflect on the times where we haven’t had margin and if there is anything we can do next time to try and avoid the explosion.
Communicating to other that we are short of margin and that we are trying to respond appropriately but we may not always do so. Communicating the first time members of our family or friends or others we have regular contact with do something that pushes over the margin line how it makes us feel and how we may need them to interact with us differently. Be proactive. Do not let it build up.
We are all short of margin at times during this ongoing pandemic that is now accompanied by the holidays. We are all trying to do the best we can. But sometimes our margin runs completely out. Recover in the the times that you can and let go of what anger, sadness, and grief that you can while building in self-care and resilience.
Nothing lasts forever and this too shall pass.
Until next time be well,