We all have stressful days. Some might even have stressful weeks, months or years. I don’t really know anyone who is stress free. But I believe that, like mourning, everyone deals with stress in different ways.
Some might be passive; hiding their stress until they erupt like Vesuvius. Some might be aggressive; letting out their frustrations with a hair-trigger and quick response. And as with most everything, there are those who are in between.
While I don’t consider myself to be an angry person, when I am angry, it can flash, but I think I’ve learned to not allow it to 1) define me; 2) let it take me over and hold onto it for too long, and 3) mostly important, I do whatever I can to never hurt someone in anger. And with stress, I tend to push it down; pretend it doesn’t exist and try to humor my way out of it.
After all, they say laughter is the best medicine, right?
No matter how stressed I get, I do try to deal with it. Not always in the most productive ways, but at least I try. But note that I said “try”.
I often joke that if I was any sort of a drinker, with all the stress, I’d be falling down drunk all the time. Thank goodness I’m not. So how do I deal with stress? That’s a good question. And sometimes I feel like I really don’t have any idea how to deal with it.
If you’ve been reading the postings in this blog lately, you’ll recognize a pattern. When I named one recent blog “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing”…I shit you not, I wasn’t kidding. So like with what seems like everything in my life, I don’t have a good answer for what I do to deal with stress. Most times, it seems, I just get to the point of frustration and end up crying it out. Which I hate. I absolutely hate crying about anything – good or bad. It tends to make me feel physically worse. So I’m not one for “crying it out” – at least as a remedy for myself.
So, I did some research to find out what “others” recommend for relieving stress. Some made me giggle. Some made me roll my eyes. A couple even had me picturing myself looking like a rolly-polly Buddha, as I attempt to find my “calm”.
I wish I could say I was inspired. I can’t say I wasn’t; but I’m still not sure. I have been wishing I could do yoga over the past couple of years. Hell, I even have a mat. Mind you, it’s still rolled up and hasn’t been removed from the cardboard that it holding it rolled up. But good intentions…
I’m not really made for yoga. Again, I wish I was. I have friends who swear by it. And I admit I had to look up what “hot yoga” was, but the end result is that I’m really just not very yoga-like in body right now, even if my mind is.
As with most everything else in my life, I’m not very disciplined. I often wonder how I even made it this far in life with such a hap-hazard way of living, but here I am…all the hamsters spinning on their wheels in my mind, trying to get to the finish. Here’s hoping my finish isn’t for a long time.
But I digress…
Discipline. Err…no…Self-discipline: the correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.
It’s really mind-boggling how much self-discipline can be, and should be, applied to so many facets of my life. From weight-loss, to house-cleaning, to exercise, to dealing with anxiety, stress and frustration. I wish I could say that I’ve mastered it in at least one thing in my life, but I’d be lying. So, no big pearls of wisdom from me (again. sorry!) on how to be more self-disciplined, but I will offer some things that can be done to deal with stress and anxiety that others have suggested, and some of which I will try to do for myself.
First…here’s a chart to help:
But for me…these:
- When you feel the stress/anxiety or frustration building, step out of the situation and take deep breaths…and count to 10. Repeat several times until you can recognize you are calmer.
- Realize you’re not perfect so stop expecting yourself to be (and others). Do what you can and be happy with the results. Try.
- Exercise is a great way to deal with stress. Even if you do 10 minutes more movement a day, it will have a great effect on your well-being. But certainly, try to get at least 30 minutes a day.
- Eat healthy and get enough sleep. Filling yourself with junk is only going to make you feel like junk. And if you’re tired from lack of sleep, you’ll only feel that much more worse. If you’re able, try taking a short nap during the day when you’re feeling a bit more tired than usual.
And the two biggest ones that I have to deal with (besides all of the above) are being positive and putting the things that stress me out into perspective.
I’ll start with the perspective one first. As I can be sometimes – big shocker I know – a bit over-dramatic or in many cases, over-think a situation. I easily jump to conclusions, thinking about the “what-ifs” and just add even more stress and anxiety to myself. I am a huge “feeler”. I live on emotions – good or bad – and I can quite easily send my own into a tizzy faster than you can say, “But-” I’ve talked before about the emotional roller-coaster and I’m one of its regular riders. I wish I could say that I’ll change but I’m not sure how or even if, so I deal with it as it comes. And often not very well.
So it comes down to asking myself, “does this really matter?” Is what I’m stressing about that big of a deal? Did I make it out to be a bigger deal than it really is? In the grand scheme of things, will this matter in an hour, tomorrow or next year? Most times, the answer is, of course, “no”. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that something stressed me. It’s just a matter of understanding that if it’s not as important as I made it out to be, I need to let it go (and quickly)…because life is too short to dwell in shit that doesn’t matter. Right?
And then there’s being “positive”. I’ve been trying to do this for so long. Invariably, it doesn’t last. I get sucked into the “pity party for one” vortex (by myself) and the next thing I know, I’m Chicken Little and the sky is falling. I hate that I can’t just be positive all the time. I know people that really seem to be. And I do hope that they really, truly are and that they aren’t “faking” it. And I really hate that I forget just how blessed I am. Too often I forget and need to be reminded. Nothing is wrong with that, per se, but I think people who are genuinely more positive more often, are the happiest.
When I said I live on emotions, I also meant that I take things personally. I don’t like when people don’t like me. I want people to love me. I want people to want to be my friend. So I take it personally when they don’t. Yet at the same time, while I know I shouldn’t live to please anyone but myself, I’m not wired that way. I tend to care more for others than myself.
And I’ve been told before that this is wrong. Yet, that’s what I am. That’s what I do. I spend a lot of time trying to help people I care about in different ways. I don’t always do it as often as I wish and sometimes that makes me feel guilty, and often, selfish. Which I know is absurd, but alas…we’re talking about me here.
So, for example, my birthday was recently. Without sounding egotistical, I did expect to see some Happy Birthday wishes on my Facebook. And I did. And I want to say before anything else, I was grateful for each and every one of them because it meant that those people took the time out of their busy/hectic/stressful/happy lives to send me their best wishes. While it might have only taken them 10 seconds to do so – I appreciated it more than they could know. Then there were those who wrote me longer messages, and those were so appreciated as well.
But the “feelings” part of me…as ridiculous as this might sound, was disappointed somewhat that some people – some “friends” – didn’t say anything. No acknowledgement at all. Yet, I know they were on Facebook because I saw their posts, their comments to others’ posts etc. And I felt a little hurt. Then I felt foolish for feeling that way.
I don’t have friends because I expect something from them. And I do try to do my best to give some attention to everyone, but in all honestly, more so to those I feel closer to. And yet, just as when I lost my beautiful Ginny last month, or announced I was moving back home to Canada…my birthday passing with none of those three somewhat life-changing events being recognized by some, it felt…hurtful.
On top of that, many who did send me best wishes…some were from people that I’ve only just met (and most not yet in person), and they were more than kind. In some cases, those people acknowledged all three of those life events, yet as I said, there were some that I expected to hear from (or hoped) and got nothing. After the loss of Ginny and that happened, I told my therapist that I guess I have to realize that some people might be more selfish than others.
Now I’m sure there are many reasons they didn’t “say” anything. Maybe they didn’t see the many posts from others about my birthday, or Ginny passing, because they have many Facebook friends. Or maybe, just maybe, they don’t consider me to be a friend at the same level of friend that I do of them. I considered this and realized that if that’s the case, there’s nothing I can do about it and I have to accept it and move on.
So, one of the many things I need to learn, which adds in my stress levels, is that not everyone is going to see my worth. I have difficulty with this for myself, but I stress as much as I can to others that I care about, how much they are worth. To me. And to others. And maybe my expectations of others is too high. Or maybe because of my self-esteem issues that I feel this need to have as many people like me as I possibly can because it’s the only way I can feel worthy.
But how can I expect others to see my worth, if I don’t see it in myself?
And that there is the rub.
I posted this today on Facebook with the caption “Man, I wish I could just let it go. Not sure why it’s so important that I even care. But I do.”
And I do care. Probably far too much. About everything. About wanting to be liked, loved, admired, and seen as a great person. And some people will never see that in me; never feel that about me. And I have to learn to accept that. And to not care.
The absolute funniest (ie: ridiculous) part about that is that I am well loved by a very close knit group of people that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, and I’m eternally grateful for each and everyone one of them…but my own feelings about myself won’t allowed me to say “that’s all you need” so I get emotional when someone might not like or love me back.
I’m suddenly hearing Barbra Streisand’s “Feelings” in my head. Grief. I’m losing it! I don’t even LIKE that song!
Till next time…
Blessings and love to all.