I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few years. One of the biggest things I’m still learning is how I handle stress, both physically and mentally. I’ve realized that often I don’t realize I’m stressed out until my body starts shutting down.
Mentally my creativity will seem to come to a halt. I all but stop writing. I struggle to think or to do projects beyond what is required (and even the required ones are a struggle).
Other times it may affect me physically. My body will shut down forcing me to take a break. Most of the time I can manage the physical impact by doing just that – taking a day off to do nothing, but I don’t fully recover.
I was chatting with my friends at Support Fibro a couple of weeks ago and I brought up how I’d been struggling to keep up. How, back in 2015 I had managed to go to school full time, do freelance work, and post to my blog three times a week. Looking back now it’s hard to imagine that I did all of that. That’s not to say that it didn’t have an effect on my physically and mentally (I ended up missing quite a few classes with multiple viral flares). During that period I wasn’t really able to just take days off like I can now, so my body forced it to happen.
Yet, these days I seem to struggle just to keep up with my freelance work, never mind keeping up with blogging or any other writing. What I finally realized was that I’d allowed stress to take over. I was letting others control my schedule in a way that zapped my energy. That inability to focus on the things I enjoy and want to do left me further stressed and struggling. It’s a cycle and not a good one.
As I write this I’m coming out the other side of this cycle. I’ve set aside some of the freelance work that was causing me stress and eating away at my energy and I’m feeling that fog lift from my brain and that ability to think and focus and share return. As I think on all of this I am reminded of a few things.
- I am going through this for a reason – that reason might just be because I didn’t stop the cycle when I first saw it causing stress. Or, it might be that I didn’t deal with the stress appropriately in the beginning so it grew. But, what I do know is that I can learn from it and I have. I’ve identified habits and traits that I can fix that then can reduce my stress in the future. I understand that I was in the situation not because of the actions of others, but because of my own failure to set and maintain boundaries.
It’s difficult to see the value in a bad situation when we are living in it, but after the fact we can find that good came from it. We can learn from it and move on and (hopefully) avoid repeating.
- How I feel about people and situations will change – Some people are good for us in certain situations and some people are not good for us at all. There are those who will enter our life for only a moment, who we wish would stay forever. And, there are others who enter and camp out for way too long, leaving us wishing they’d never arrived. The same is true of situations… they are all temporary. But, we can learn from each and every one. We can learn new boundaries, and better ways to avoid those people should not be part of our lives. We can also learn ways to engage with those we want to keep in our lives in better ways to ensure that the relationships continue to be strong and beneficial for all.
- There will always be tough times – Sometimes life gets really stressful and during those times we spend a lot of energy focusing on the future on wanting those times to be gone so we can get back to enjoying life. The truth is that when this tough time is over there may be a reprieve but more tough times will come. Don’t get so stuck on the future that you miss out on the good moments that exist even during the tough times. Tough times will always be there, but the good moments will as well.
- Complaining is a waste of energy – I can spend my time complaining about all the things that stress me out, or I can spend that time and energy on changing those things. Often the things I’m complaining about are within my control to change, so what’s the point of complaining? Sure, there are times when you just need to vent, when a moment stresses you out and it’s only a moment. In those times, simply venting may be enough to release the tension. But, if you find yourself stuck on a moment, or repeatedly complaining (or venting) about the same things, it’s probably time to change those things.
- My happiness depends on my thoughts – Happiness isn’t about what’s happening around me, or what others are doing for me or to me, or near me. Happiness is 100% about my thoughts. I can be in the midst of the worst flare ever, in physical pain, the world can be collapsing and I can still be happy. At the same time, I could be in the midst of what would seem to be the happiest moment in the world, surrounded by those who love me and be unhappy. It’s all a matter of my thoughts and my focus.When I focus on the negatives in life, on what could happen, how things could go wrong, or what should happen, I become a negative person. When I’m negative I bring everyone around me down with me and I get very little done.
Sometimes staying positive is really freaking hard and sometimes it’s just not possible. I realize in those moments that I have to give in and let go for a bit… but that doesn’t mean I stay in that space. It means I give those feelings room to breath. I acknowledge those feelings and I do my best to understand why I’m feeling them. Then I move on.Sometimes staying positive is really freaking hard and sometimes it's just not possible. And, that's OK. it's OK not to be positive all the time. Click To Tweet
As with all things, these are things I’m constantly learning. Things I’ve learned and then seemingly forget and have to learn again.
Looking for more tips on getting through tough times? Get the free download – 15 Tips for Getting Through Tough Times.
- 7 Things to stop doing if you want to decrease stress
- 5 Ways I Reduce Stress During Tough Times
- 6 steps for coping with stress and improving your Fibromyalgia symptoms
- 10 Ways to be Happier Despite Chronic Illness