“Let’s talk about all the good things, and the bad things, that make you crazy…”
I don’t know about you, but December has brought heaps of loads of stress into my life.
It seems that whatever can go wrong, has.
Or maybe that’s just my frame of mind once the world goes cold and dark and everything withers and dies.
I’m partly joking, of course. Partly.
If I reflect on my past Decembers, they’ve all brought on some sort of serious life crisis, or multiple. So in retrospect, this December has been rough but nothing in comparison to past years. And reflecting on that brings my first glimmer of gratitude.
I see a lot of our real [FIT] life members struggling with stress, too. And you know what makes me feel a little less stressed? Directing my focus on others, and helping them to feel better. Taking the focus off of myself.
But I think it’s also knowing that other people are going through tough stuff. I step out of my “poor me” bubble, swallow a big dose of humble pie, and get back to the day’s to do list.
But sometimes, when it’s really bad, I have other coping mechanisms that I rely on. I’m going to share those with you today, because if you’re going through a difficult time, it might make you feel better to know that you’re not alone.
I mean, I really cry. Like, all day. Most people around me wouldn’t know it because I strive to be the consummate professional, so I always smile and act happy around them. But the rest of the day, I cry. In the shower, brushing my teeth, making breakfast, driving in my car, most anytime I’m not around other people. I’m a constant puddle of sobs. It’s like a faucet I can’t turn off.
I believe it’s good to cry. It gets the sads out. It releases my tension valve and tires me out enough so I can indulge in another of my favorite coping mechanisms.
My schedule doesn’t allow for a mid afternoon nap, but if it did, you can be sure I’d take one. Back when my life was really bad, I slept a lot. I would sometimes have to take a whole day off from the world and crash.
I don’t know what it is about sleep, but after 8 – 10 hours of shutting out the world, my problems feel more manageable, and my outlook is a tad brighter. Sleep also calms me and puts me in a rational state of mind. I feel more capable to manage the problems that are causing my stress.
I honestly assess
Sometimes you need to be hard on yourself, even when you’re stressed. But not in a self loathing, berating way. More like a loving parent who wants what is best for you, and gently yet pointedly lays out where you’ve steered wrong.
So, it’s a humbling, opening sort of thing. I may have contributed to the cause. I look at what triggered my stress and see if there were ways I could have avoided the onset, or what initiated it. If there were, I know it’s time to take responsibility for the triggers, and fix them.
Which leads me to my next strategy…
If I got myself into this mess, I need to get myself out. How am I going to do that? Thinking through my problem, and coming up with a clear, progressive strategy as to what will make me feel more at ease, is helpful.
It takes me out of the place of feeling out of control, and puts me back into the drivers seat.
Even if life is throwing circumstances at us that we didn’t cause, there are always ways we can plan to better manage the situation once we know it exists.
Taking on a helpless mentality is the worst thing to do.
I lower my standards where I can
I’m a perfectionist. That puts stress on me in ways that aren’t always necessary. Even something as simple as getting ready for the day, or doing my hair and makeup. Yes, it’s important to look presentable but I don’t always have to be dressed to the 9’s and looking like a glamour girl. That’s an expectation I put upon myself.
I know that the people around me don’t care about that. They care about more important things. Am I reliable, responsible? Do I get the job done? Do I meet their needs?
When I am feeling low, cozy clothes and slippers are great therapy. A ponytail is a no brainer, and I personally think that the inventor of dry shampoo deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
Same goes for work. Everything doesn’t have to perfect. It just has to be done well. With good intent.
And once in a while, I decide that my training can wait. If I’m feeling physically and emotionally drained, a workout might not be the best remedy.
I eat extra healthy
Just like sleep makes me feel rejuvenated and a bit calmer, eating healthier helps as well. I throw more vegetables into my diet, cut back on alcohol and sweets, and track what I’m eating. For some people, tracking could add stress. For me, it has the opposite effect. When life feels out of control, eating healthy gives me a feeling of accomplishment. It’s also a way to remind myself that I am worthy of nourishment and good things.
Not to mention the obvious fact that we all feel better when our diet is well balanced.
There are also some things I don’t do when I’m really stressed. These are things I know I should do, but don’t because, well, I’m human.
I don’t reach out to others
You’d think a gal who can bare her soul to the world through a blog would be really great at communication. And when things are great, I am. I love to tell people about everything when life is humming along.
But when I’m struggling, I go inside. I shy away from talking about it and I carry the burden around like a martyr. I don’t want to burden others with my problems or bring people down.
Talking to others about my struggles would help me feel less alone, more supported, and understood. Seems so simple, right?
I don’t ask for help
This is an extension of the last point. But there is a difference between telling people about your problems and going that step further to actually ask them for their help.
My favorite response when people ask me, “What can I do?” is usually, “Nothing, I’m good.”
As I’m slowly dying inside…
It’s mildly funny when I write about it. I bet many of you reading this know exactly what I’m talking about.
This is by far the most potentially damaging of all the things I do, which I know aren’t productive.
When things are really bad, I all out avoid addressing the problem. Sometimes to the point that it creates more problems.
When I finally muster the energy to tackle what’s wrong, the relief is incredible. Which leaves me asking myself, “Why didn’t I just do that before?”
But I already know why. Sometimes I don’t like to look at my shortcomings. Sometimes I can’t handle feeling like a failure, or that I’ve let other people down. Sometimes I feel like a fraud. Sometimes I am so disappointed in myself, that I need time to come down off the ledge of sadness and regroup.
When I feel better and issues have resolved, I no longer have these self wallowing, unfair feelings about myself. I know they are all stress induced.
I’m working on improving in these areas that I struggle with. I give myself credit for being aware that they exist.
As the new year approaches, I plan for cleaning up more areas of my life that I know cause stress. Or at least putting plans in place to better manage them.
It’s humbling to look at my shortcomings. It also gives me grounding and shifts my mindset back to a can do attitude.
I’ve been here before. And it’s all going to be okay. For all of us.
Stay sane and healthy!
Founder, real [FIT] life
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