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.
When I started this blog, I did so for purely selfish reasons. I needed to record my journey to a healthier life through weightloss, and I needed the support of family and friends. Nothing has really changed; I still need that support. I think maybe I even need that support now more than when I started because in most cases, starting isn’t the hardest part, it’s keeping going. It’s finding the willpower to keep fighting. It’s trying to not lose faith in yourself when you have setbacks and to keep trying, no matter what.
It’s no secret that I suffer from some serious self-esteem issues. I think I always have, at least, since the weight started to pack on in my teens. Puberty hit me like a ton of lead and it never let up.
Even after meeting a guy and eventually marrying, I still never quite felt good about myself. I never felt attractive. I never felt comfortable. I was at my heaviest and he was an enabler. I’m not making excuses or even putting the blame on him – at least not for how big I was or my lack of getting healthy. We tried to diet together off and on over the years but I think I got complacent and figured that I had a husband so did I really need to take care of myself?
I didn’t see the issues. I didn’t see that my thinking was so very wrong. I didn’t see how unhappy I really was. I was sick often, stressing about this or that, while he never worried about anything. And through it all, I felt ugly. Undeserving. I never said a word about it to anyone. I didn’t even realize at the time that that was actually happening.
Then there were the little jabs. The subtle suggestions that because he had a PhD that he was smarter than me. I didn’t tie my sneakers the “correct” way. I waited to long after the light turned green to proceed. Well you get the picture.
It wasn’t until I found out he was having an affair that felt the full force of how awful I’d really felt for all those years. For all the self-esteem issues I had had, it never occurred to me to do anything about it. I settled for the status quo.
Until I was left at the curb like the garbage. Until I wasn’t even given an option to try to save my marriage even if I wanted to (I didn’t). That I was swapped out for another woman (15 years younger to boot) in less than 24 hours after walking from the house we’d shared. That he told her that he never really loved me.
It was then that I felt less than human. It was then that my self-esteem took a nose-dive. And I hated him for that. I hated him for what he did to me, sure. But I also really hated him for making me feel like the shit under his shoe. As if I’d done something wrong or been such a horrible person/wife that he couldn’t wait to replace me.
Through all the struggles afterwards, no matter how I felt inside, I held my head high and swore I wouldn’t stoop to his level. That I would behave like an adult, even if he was behaving like a love-struck 16 year old. And I did that. And I realized really quite quickly how miserable I had actually been. I realized that they did me a favor. I even joked that I should end them flowers as a thank-you.
But what I didn’t realize was that despite my stoic behavior, I was still so self-conscious of everything about me. Until last year when I hit the wall and declared that I couldn’t even stand to see my reflection in the window of a store, or staring back at me in the bathroom. I hated myself. I hated everything about myself.
I berated myself for my lack of willpower. For my lack of ability to lose the weight despite knowing what I needed to do. That I’d wasted so many years not doing anything about it before now. I would literally stare at myself in the mirror and tell myself what an awful person I was. I was fat, ugly and just simply disgusting. I felt all of that. In some ways, I still do. But I’ve gotten better. I have those moments now but they are few and far between. But I’ll be honest, that doesn’t mean that I like myself. And I certainly don’t love myself.
But I’m trying.
It’s taking me a long time to finally feel like I deserve to be happy. That I deserve to experience the good things in life. That my life is something worth living.
But the one thing that I have a hard time dealing with is compliments. I don’t care how close I am to the person or how honest I believe them to be, if they give me a compliment, it actually has the opposite effect on me. I feel as if they are lying; telling me something they think I want to hear, and nothing could be farther from the truth.
While many people would bask in compliments that they are “beautiful”, I don’t. Because I don’t believe it. I don’t see it when I look in that mirror or see that reflection in the window. So to hear people say something such as that to me, while I might be completely wrong, it makes me feel like they are patronizing me more than being supportive. Even in those times when I’ve thrown a pity-party for myself and shared it, I told them that I didn’t want their sympathies or to give me compliments. Because I wasn’t fishing for them. I honestly never am. But many didn’t listen and did so anyway. And you know what happened? I got upset and took it out on myself.
Because I don’t believe it.
I’ve come a long way in the past year. I’m not to the point of accepting compliments or looking at myself and not seeing ugly. But given where I was, I have come far. Very far. And I may never be that person. I don’t know really.
But for all my lack of wanting compliments based on my looks, I will admit that not only am I okay with accepting praise and support relating to my weightloss journey, I seem to need it. I seem to thrive on it. I’m the girl in the corner hiding her face but wants everyone to notice me – but not for the same reasons as others likely would.
I’ve been writing this blog since September and I can clearly see the correlation between my feelings and attitude towards my success and my actual succeeding. It’s almost a bit pitiable really; the need for praise and accolades. Until I realize that it is that support that is what is keeping my feelings about myself – the negative ones – at bay. The kind words, the encouraging posts, those are that things that I want. That I need. They are the reason why after all this time I am still gun-ho to do this. To succeed.
Because I realize that those words are what make me feel worthy. Deserving. That people are taking time out of their busy lives to read my blog, to post me a compliment, to even suggest that I am inspiring them.
So after all this very long-winded post, that’s what this is about. Inspiring others.
It honestly never occurred to me when I started this that I would be inspiring anyone. Then I started to get messages from people saying that because of my attitude, because of my determination, they felt inspired and wanted to succeed too. That they were on the journey with me and I was helping THEM. And I tell you, that is a heady feeling.
Especially when it really wasn’t your intention to begin with.
To have someone tell you that you’ve inspired them…well that, in turn, inspired you right back. And more and more as the weeks go by, people are not only supporting me but they’re supporting each other. They are inspiring each other.
It’s The Inspiration Train.
And thank you all for jumping on board. Thank you for all of your continued and unwavering support, even when I lose sight of my abilities and goals. Thank you for inspiring me. But also thank you for letting me know that something I’m doing has inspired you as well.
A few small words of encouragement. A gentle smile and pat on the shoulder. A hug that says, “I’m with you.” A post that says, “I see you” or a PSA interview where you’re called “brave” and “inspiring”. Those are the things that drive me. Those are the things that excite me and want me to not only keep going but to push harder.
I’ll admit that I’m scared. I’m afraid that The Inspiration Train will slow down and I won’t have the fuel I need to keep going. I don’t know if that will happen, but it is my honest fear. But for now, I’m determined to ride this train till the end. And I really hope you’ll be there at the end waiting for me.
So do what you can to inspire someone today. You never know how much even the slightest gesture can change their whole world.
Blessing to all for a safe and prosperous week.