Even after we recognize Yellow and Red Zone people and situations, it is not always possible to avoid them. Sometimes we are forced to deal with those difficult situations and challenging people. One of the secrets to deal with these stressful challenges is the Green Zone Concept called the Emotional Raincoat. The Emotional Raincoat is like going into the scorching sun, wearing sun screen. It is the mental, and often times, practical preparation to deal with stressful situations.
Let me explain it with a personal example. There was a time when I would get very stressed when I was struck in Toronto traffic on my way to an engagement. I do not like being late. I think it is disrespectful. So I asked myself, how could I create an Emotional Raincoat to protect myself from the Red Zone traffic and not feel embarrassed if I am late. After a lot of reflection I came up with these solutions. The first solution was that I called my friends before I left home so that they knew that I had left on time. They reassured me that it was okay if I was a few minutes late. The second solution was that I bought a few of my favorite music CDs, like Kenny Rogers, Gipsy Kings, Kenny G and some Indian Classical music, so that if I am stuck in traffic, I could hear that calming music and stay in my peaceful Green Zone. Those things acted like my Emotional Raincoat for that Red Zone problem. So the idea is that for each Yellow or Red Zone situation we need to create an Emotional Raincoat. Once that Raincoat is created, then we can relax in that situation.
When I was developing the Green Zone Philosophy, I realized that the goal is not only to decrease the uncomfortable Red Zone Hours, but also to increase the happy Green Zone Hours. We suggest to our clients and friends to dedicate one hour a day for themselves. I have met many women who spend all their time looking after their parents, husbands and children but ignore themselves. I tell them that the way a car cannot run on an empty gas tank, a human being cannot be happy on an empty emotional tank. I ask them to start looking after themselves and find ways to fill their own emotional tanks. I suggest they take an hour a day and do what they love to do – go for a walk, do some exercise, watch a funny movie, listen to music, take a long bath or have a nap. By having a Green Zone Hour people start getting re-energized. Gradually an hour becomes two hours and then the whole evening, then the whole day, then the whole weekend and then the whole week. It is amazing to see how Green Zone Philosophy helps people take control of their lives. People start visiting, then living in their Green Zone, and gradually develop their Green Zone Lifestyle.
I share with my patients that traditional medicine and psychiatry is illness oriented. Traditional doctors and psychiatrists try to control symptoms with medications, thereby decreasing Red Zone situations, but Green Zone Philosophy is health oriented so we try to encourage people to make their Green Zone bigger so that their Red Zone becomes smaller. As I mentioned last week, keeping a Green Zone Diary helps people see their progress. And when they are feeling discouraged I ask them to read their Green Zone Diary which gives them hope and helps them become optimistic.