Stress is Personal and Unique
Everyone is experiencing some kind of stress right now, whether they realize it or not,. How you respond to your own particular flavor depends a lot on your own history. Whatever traumas you’ve managed from early childhood on, be they large or small, have given you coping mechanisms which are now deeply embedded in your psyche.
For some, they’re now responding with some of their oldest coping mechanisms rather than those acquired once they’d matured a bit because the closest thing to what they’re experiencing is a childhood trauma. For others, it might be from a broken relationship or a divorce. Nevertheless, their responses aren’t coming from a place of rationality and clear thinking. They’re purely emotional.
Where Stress Settles in Your Body
The first thing you need to do is recognize your own stress symptoms so you can do something to level down to something more manageable. Here are some things you might notice:
- Tension in your neck and shoulders
- Stomach pain or upset
- Inability to focus
This is only a short list. You know yourself better than anyone, so you’ll be able to recognize things that aren’t normal if you can take a step back and disengage from the pain for even a minute.
Managing the stress isn’t necessarily easy, especially since the cause is out of your control. For many, just that lack of control is enough to throw their entire system out of whack. Like Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory”, their entire life is predicated on being in control. When something changes, it sets off alarm bells and sirens which can only be shut off when they regain control; or so they believe.
Personal Care for Stress Relief
The truth is, caring for yourself is a form of control. You let go of all the external factors and do something that makes you feel loved and cared for, even if the caregiver is yourself. Here are a few things I have found effective:
- Zoom calls with friends
- Cleaning and sanitizing an area in my house
- Gardening (especially something quasi-destructive like digging up weeds)
- Showering (water is known to calm a body that’s stressed)
- Stretching (I know I don’t do enough of this anyway)
- Coloring (my daughter sent me a package with an adult coloring book. I’m surprised how calming that can be!)
Again, this is a short list, and one which only contains things that make me feel calmer. You have your own, and maybe the first step is to sit down and make your own list so you’ll have choices when you recognize you’re starting to react from stress rather than responding with love and compassion.
The More We Hide From Our Stress, the More it Attacks
When my girls were young, I was in a constant state of stress, though I’d never have admitted it. I was a single parent trying to do it all while working in a high-stress job in Aerospace. I was angry all the time, easily frustrated, and in desperate need of a good night’s sleep. I’d work all day, come home and get the girls fed and settled, then go dancing and stay out until all hours. Needless to say, I was a mess!
One night, I was trying to refill some cartridges for my printer. I’d dropped one tiny screw on the floor, and had pulled out my last spare one. When that one disappeared too, my control finally broke, and I sat on the floor and burst into tears. It’s important to note it was four years after my mom’s suicide, and I’d spent those four years doing everything in my power to not break down in front of my daughters. What I failed to realize was my anger and impatience were doing them a lot more harm than an honest spell of tears would have.
Instead of freaking the girls out, they brought me Kleenex and tried to comfort me. Jenni even wrote me a note in which she told me it was OK to cry. Funny how a 10-year-old can often see past all the garbage an adult accumulates, and recognize the obvious.
Accept and Resolve Beats Coping Mechanisms Every Time
My point in sharing this story is adults learn to cope with a lot of stressful things, and they bury them rather than dealing with them and letting them go. Like feelings you suppress, if you don’t face the stress head-on and actually deal with it instead of burying it, it’s going to express itself in less appropriate ways.
Stress is harder to bury than feelings. If it isn’t allowed to depressurize from one place, you can be sure it’ll find another. Meanwhile, it’s busy playing pinball with your innards and affecting all your internal functions as well, from your adrenals to your liver, and everything in between.
While you’re trying to detach from your feelings, you’re probably detaching from friends and family too. In so doing, you’re denying yourself one of the biggest de-stressors of all; human contact. If you live with a loved one or several, you might be taking your frustration out on them, causing them to react from their own place of frustration. The longer our society remains isolated, the less likely it is people will take that much-needed step back to respond instead of reacting, and the more volatile the environment will become. This also means people will be more easily manipulated by the morally challenged who will jerk those emotional triggers just a little harder.
Check in With Yourself
It’s up to you and me to reign in our emotions, be kinder to ourselves and our loved ones, and prevent those immoral beasts who are, in their own way acting out of fear; the fear of losing money, power or both, from using us as dispensable pawns in their own selfish game. If you think about it, that would be the ultimate lack of control, and one you might never recover from.
Take the time to ask yourself why you’re snapping at someone, or feeling impatient, or like you’re between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Sometimes, getting out is simply a matter of taking a step to the right or left, or even backwards and removing yourself from the situation to a place that is still within your control. It also means getting clear on what you can and cannot control, and accepting that the things you can’t are only temporary.
Fighting them won’t speed their progress through your life. Like trying to paddle upstream, it will only wear you out and increase your frustration with lack of progress. At times like this I like to think of taking out a raft and laying down to enjoy the ride. If you let it, the current might just take you someplace even better than you think you want to go right now.
Use Gratitude to Remember What Matters
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for coffee.
- I’m grateful for friends and family who are doing their best to help everyone navigate an intensely difficult time.
- I’m grateful for my writing. I may be neglecting it to some degree, but it’s always there for me. All I need to do is pick up a pen or sit down at the keyboard.
- I’m grateful for technology which is keeping my friends and family connected.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, creativity, motivation, weeds, opportunities, joy, health, harmony, peace, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward