I believe there is no one that is immune to stress. Indeed we all deal with stress differently. For some of us, there are moments where we feel incredibly overwhelmed, where our circumstances leave us emotionally, physically and psychologically drained.
Even me, although everyone sees me being calm in the face of stress or pressure, I know that internally my body and spirit takes a beating when I do not channel and express the truth of what stress is doing to me. If you are like me, you probably have many, many voices telling you and how to handle everything things in your life. These voices are both in and outside of us.
Personally, I am constantly being told the reasons I don’t handle stress well, and how I have subconscious fallbacks that I apparently use as a go to. After sitting with this for a while, I become really annoyed with myself. The truth is that none of us can avoid stress. What we can do is have better ways of managing it, and constantly learn from it so that we improve continuously.
This is what I have learnt from my stress:
It is okay to feel overwhelmed!
Sometimes, the world feels like it’s going to fall on top of you and squeeze every last bit of positive energy out of your pores. Most often we cannot avoid some of what happens or is initiated by our external environment. The most important thing to me is how I respond. I allow myself to feel all kinds of emotion, and not give others the power to define how I should feel because it makes them uncomfortable.
It is ok to want to run away to my happy place, and sit in a corner with my journal, or just listening to soothing music. It starts with recognizing that I am overwhelmed and being ok with it. There is nothing wrong with me, everyone feels overwhelmed at some point.
Accept myself completely and how I respond to stress triggers.
Sometimes I may respond by being a highly emotional being. Sometimes, I may use strategies whereby I try to avoid what is happening. This could be burying myself in my work, in socializing or just some other form of escapism. Sometimes I might feel as though I take on the world’s problems and feel all of it, completely. I have come to appreciate all these parts of myself.
Accepting my response to stress and overwhelm means that I am the authority. Not everyone else who might warn me against what I ‘shouldn’t’ be sensitive towards. Indeed, sometimes, if you feel that hiding was is your best option, putting your head down and zoning the world out is exactly what is needed for a while. The trick is having mechanisms in place to bring you back. Once you are back, acknowledge your battle scars and flesh wounds, do the work to recover.
Knowing when to ask for help.
For many of us, when we are overwhelmed, or stressed, we sink deep into our fear of what will happen if others find out. This fear becomes larger than life, and in fact, what it does, it pulls you deeper into a feeling of ‘incompetence’ to manage your own life. I have learnt that when I recognize my sense of overwhelm, and I accept myself completely when I am unable to pull myself out of it, or recover or just hold myself, that I need to ask for help.
Asking for help could be from a friend, a family member, or even a professional. Recently, I saw a post on facebook where a friend posted ‘I have quietly been falling apart’. This opened up a flood of support for her, as well as gave her some freedom as she was no longer controlled by the feeling that falling apart was an abject failure on her part.