Stress…..ugh, it is such a negative word but weirdly enough it should be loved in healthy amounts. This is how I feel about stress, stress is like a good workout, the kind that hits all of the good stuff. You put in your 30 minutes a day, do your sweating and after you are pleased that you did it. You pushed yourself to accomplish something that you would not have if you had you have made an excuse. But imagine if you all the sudden had to do that work out three times a day, with no training, no knowledge beforehand. Once you think you will be able to do it that 30 minute workout turns into a 90 minute workout, and don’t forget you have to repeat it three times. You aren’t ready, you didn’t train, prepare or even eat right for it. Day after day this is getting bigger, harder and impossible to keep up with the ever growing workout schedule. It takes up your day. Your body hurts in way you didn’t know you could hurt. You can’t sleep through the night because you are dreading facing it tomorrow. Your whole days are consumed by it. You can’t completely escape it, no matter how hard you try. Even though you are putting in all of this effort, you look awful, you were better off with the little amounts. You look tired and haggard, bordering on lifeless. This is stress. Small doses can accomplish great things, large doses can almost kill you or kill you.
I promise there is going to be advice on working through it, but you need to know that I have been on that never ending hamster wheel of stress. I was the person who almost overdosed on stress. I realized that I had almost overdosed on stress while I was laying on a bed in the ER hooked up to an EKG. I kept on saying to the nurses “I honestly don’t think I am having a heart attack but I am having all the symptoms.” “I take care of myself”,” I eat right and exercise,” and the golden phrase that kept on coming out of my mouth like I had no control “I am only 23, youngest in my company.” I had a job that kept me on call 24/7, there never was a reprieve, I had a boss who didn’t support me and expected the world out of me and nothing less. I pushed so hard to not be a failure in the companies eyes. I wanted to be the sparkling perfect image of the successful 23 year old general manager, that could have ended me. We stress to not fail, but by over-stressing a situation we put ourselves in a place of failure. Here are my simple tips to not putting yourself in a place of failure or the ER for that matter.
- Pray Whether or not you believe in God or not. Pray out loud, sometimes saying a prayer can shed light on the subject or it feels good to say it out loud. Pray first, always.
- Step Back It is hard to gain perspective but if you can turn your phone off, take a few hours to think of the grand scheme of things. Will I remember this situation in 3 years? Honestly, it probably won’t alter the course of history. My personal experience the best way to gain some perspective is to either talk to an elderly wise person (they can really put things into perspective, they have lived) or watch world news (someone is always worse off than you). It helps.
- Sing It OUT Time to whip out your favorite ballad and sing to the top of your lungs. It may be childish but singing out can relax you and your muscles.
- Dissect the Problem Is it work? Family? Friends? Finances? Is it an emotional trauma that you never dealt with resurfacing? You can’t work through something that you don’t recognize is there. Acknowledge what is causing the issue and start working on healing internally before taking action.
- Make Small Goals If your issue is with a person, make a goal to have pleasant small talk. If it is a work problem, your goal should make a goal to not stress for an hour. It all depends on the situation, make goals to help yourself solve the problem.
- Take Control Once the small goals are being conquered, take over the situation. Don’t let anyone steal your joy, fight to keep it. Roll the small goals into bigger goals, for instance you made it for an hour without stressing go for the whole morning. Don’t let anyone get in the way, you just took the power in that situation. GO YOU!
- Evaluate Your Emotions You may be conquering on the outside but still feeling like you are loosing on the inside. Take sometime to evaluate your emotions, de-stressing is one thing, but getting rid of those negative feelings and emotions is a process. Work through those feelings, heal from them and next time you will be stronger.
- Must Have A Hobby Get a relaxing and/or captivating hobby. For instance, I love to paint when I am sorting through things. It is not mentally intensive but it is messy which means I can’t look at my phone, I block everything out and focus on something I enjoy. There were a few nights that all I did was paint, and the next morning I came into work relaxed and happy. People noticed.
- Read Before Bed Sleep is everything, don’t sabotage your sleep. You will turn into a crazy person without it. Pick up a book and read, don’t look at your phone 30 minutes before bed it ruins your ability to fall asleep – there are studies about this don’t just take my word for it. Work on your reading list before you fall asleep, it also helps you from working on your never ending to-do list for the next day. That never helps anyone.
- Sanity Accountability Everyone needs accountability in life, even in stressful times you need someone else to help with the load. Be honest with your feelings and whatever situation you are in, sometimes your friend is going through the same thing or has been there in that situation emotionally. don’t go through it alone and nothing strengthens a relationship than sharing in the good and the bad.
All of these tips have helped me in past during my stressful times, and one very important thing is to deal with the problem before it gets bigger than it really is. And remember you can do anything, just don’t try to do everything.
** Remember- Small amounts of stress is a great thing! Don’t overdose on stress. **