Dont go into shock mode…yet.
Yes. I am stressed. And it is okay.
I will tell you why. Stress is our bodies’ way of dealing with anxiety and pressure. Stress tells us when to slow down, take a break or quit. Stress is just my body’s way of protecting me. Figuratively and literally.
Awww. Isnt that sweet?
You should find that amazing too.
The thing about our bodies is that they are naturally equipped with mechanisms to speak to us in different ways and help us cope with the exertions of daily living.
Just as with a car that dies on the road due to fuel shortage. It usually gives a sign…right? What happens is that the driver either ignored the sign or didnt recognise the signm so he kept using the car until it could no longer move. So, the problem isnt that the car stopped. Its a natural consequence for the car to stop. The problem is the driver. If he had stopped to refuel, the car wouldnt have stopped.
Thats generally how our bodies function.
Living is stressful. Regardless of the level of life you are at. Whether you are in school, about to write an exam, having to deal with a change, looking for a job, coping with a loss, raising your children, managing a health challenge, having to pay rent, thinking of the next meal, dealing with your spouse, starting a new business venture, catching up with friends you havent seen in ages, dealing with rejection, handling success, phew…I could go on and on. Even the tiniest bit of activity such as driving can raise our stress levels.
And because I have come to learn that being stressed is not the problem. I have discovered what the problem is. Just as with the car analogy.
That’s why I can boldly say, I am stressed. Because I have experienced (and still) all that and more. And no…its not negative confession. Its stating the fact. Saying anything else will be living in denial.
Me. I am the problem. My inability to recognise when I am stressed, to identify what stresses me out and to deal appropriately with anxiety when it does come. In short, stress becomes a problem for me…when I do not tune myself to listen and act in a way that doesn’t enable my stressors do more harm to me.
And this requires honesty. Which can be brutal and hurtful. But, it is what it is.
For a long time, I didn’t understand how this could be. I would find myself constantly angry, frustrated, being pessimistic, moody with constant headaches. Instead of taking charge of my body and reactions…I would dump the responsibility elsewhere…worsening my situation.
I had to learn the hard way, that continuing like that was doing more harm. So…I started focusing on me. I started being attentive to my body, understanding what triggers it. My experience and training in Stress Management also helped. I was now able to apply these techniques to managing the situation so it doesnt escalate.
I started learning resilience. We all are born with resilience. Its just that our nurturing and experiences sometimes robs us of that power. So, we are unable to hone it.
For instance, I am stuck in traffic for over 4 hiurs and some random bike man knocks over my side mirror, the natural reaction will be to yell scream further agitating myself. Instead, I focus on deep breathing. And control my speech…mentally. I learn to choose my battles so to speak. Yes, the side mirror is broken and it will probably cost some money. But what is more important? Your mental (and physical) health or the side mirror? Your answer will tell you how resilient you are.
Coping with stress included learning how to prioritise. Learning how to master your emotions and your environment. Because sometimes a coping technique could involve you stepping out of the stressful environment, which is your comfort zone. I dont have to tell you how doing that can also heighten your anxiety which can immobilise you posing the risk to remain.
Oftentimes, when couples bicker and things get out of control…it stems from an inability to cope with the anxiety that comes from disagreements. In such cases, the best skill will be to quieten your thoughts and not give into the lure of lashing out. Sometimes…walking away for a while and allowing yourself calm down might just be what you need.
Let me say what it is that happens when you allow stress to fester,
- It begins to reflect in your physical health, aches, pains, high blood pressure etc
- It compromises your mental health leading to depression, suicidal thoughts, forgetfullnes and lethargy
- It affects your lifestyle: poor eating habits, isolations, laziness, substance abuse
- It affects your productivity: you lose interest in work, you lose income, you lose respect of your boss and colleagues
- It affects your relationships: no one likes a moody and negative person that is constantly angry or lashing out, so you find people giving you space
Now…this can also happen when we always picture stress in a negative light. So, when you feel it, you develop the anxiety that something must be wrong with you. Now because, we havent learnt how to ope with anxiety, our stress levels worsen…get it? It becomes a cycle.
Its perfectly okay to be stressed. Go on…say it…I am stressed. See? Thunder didnt strike you dead. Did it?
Today is International Stress Awareness Day. And I think it is awesome to take advantage of the information out there to begin to have a mindset change regarding stress.
Ignorance in managing stress is the problem. Not stress.
Inability to identify your stressors is the problem. Not stress
Ignoring the signs and symptoms of stress is the problem. Not stress.
Creating an environment that aggravates stress at home and in the workplace is the problem. Not stress.
Stop giving stress a bad name.
Heck, stress saves us. Literally!
Become resilient. You are much stronger than you give yourself credit for. You definitely will have some bad days…I mean…that’s what life and living does to you. Sometimes you might need to let go of some people, jobs, habits, friends…for your sanity. But you know what? You got this.
Are you stressed?
Happy International Steess Awareness Day!
If you need to talk to someone, or you need to equip yourself and your team with techniques to help them master stress…just hit me up HERE.