About Us · Contact Us   

You Know You’re Stressed When…

Stress is a sneaky thief. It robs you of the joy of this moment and creates an amazing array of havoc physically.  Quite often though, we blame something else instead of seeing that old bogeyman Stress as the culprit.

Stress–the anxious state that results from the difference between what is happening and what you think should be happening.  Yep.  Stress is a control issue.

Right now, I’m stressed.  I should be embarrassed to admit that–for decades, I have been proclaiming “Stress is an inside job.  You give it to  yourself.”   Stress is something you give yourself.  And usually,  you don’t realize you are doing it.

There are some situations that are classic set-ups for stress.  A new baby.  Caregiving for a loved one who’s coping with illness.  An unrealistic load at work.   We notice those even if we don’t do anything to deal with the stress.

But you can create a stressful situation about just about anything.  I come from a family with seven kids.  At one point, there were four cars that needed to get out of the driveway to get to work or a college class at various times of the day and night.  This was particularly unnerving to one of my sisters, who seemed to always end up being the one most impossibly parked in when she had to get to work.  We were taught early on that it was up to you to deal with whatever was bugging you.  So every night she would gather three other sets of car keys and go out and rearrange who was parked where in the driveway.  End of her stress.  Wish it was that simple all the time.

One of the worst sources of stress is expectations of other people.  So-and-so should be more prompt.  Or more considerate.  Or less inclined to leave a mess in the sink after brushing his teeth.  These are the situations where getting something external to change is less likely.  People don’t change just because you don’t like what they are doing.  (The exception to this is if you are supervising people in a work setting.  There, you have a right and responsibility to get them to do the things they are getting paid to do.)

Sometimes, just mentioning that the behavior is a problem does have exhilarating results.  So it’s worth trying.  But if the needed change doesn’t happen immediately, waiting for it forever is a fool’s assignment.  Your options are either to accept whatever behavior you’re dealing with or end the relationship.  And in some cases (difficult parents, children, or bosses come to mind) ending the relationship isn’t much of an option.  So if  you want to not be stressed, get over the idea that so-and-so should be doing such-and-such.  Being honest with yourself about it being a source of stress makes that easier to do.  But it’s not “I’m stressed because my boss is a jerk.”  It’s “I’m stressed because my boss is a jerk and I’m letting it get to me.”

But how do you know when you’re stressed?  Are you tired?  Feeling worn out?  Irritable?  All those things are signs of stress.  Plus there are a whole host of physical problems that feed on stress–everything from hypertension to gastric problems are exacerbated by stress.  Mostly though, it’s a feeling that you are not in control and that you need to be.

When there’s not enough time in the day, the easiest things to cut out are the things you do for yourself.  Switch to less time-consuming options instead of eliminating self care.   Maybe you don’t have time to get a massage right now.  But you can do some deep breathing while waiting for a stoplight to turn or take a “three minute vacation” by imagining you’re somewhere personally pleasant when you have–literally–three minutes of down time.

For me right now, the stress has been coming from unpredictability.  No matter what I decide I’m going to do with a day it’s never what actually happens–and not because something I wanted to do more came along.   Oh, poor me.   But my highest priority right now is caregiving and that, plain and simple, is an impossibly unpredictable set of responsibilities.  To right myself, I needed to redefine what was “supposed to be happening.”  It’s not what I put on my “to do” list the night before.  It’s whatever we need to do to help my loved one heal.

Oh yeah.  How did I finally accept that I was stressed?  I put a load of laundry I had not yet washed in the dryer.  Stress makes you do really dumb things.



Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.