Stressing about Stress

Dear Reader,

How do you deal with stress? Actually, better question… do you deal with stress? Stress is real. It is your body’s emotional and physical response to tension. While some stress here and there is normal, chronic stress wears on your body like a disease.

I was on the phone with my mom today. She asked me if I was on my way home from work. Actually, I was commuting from job number 1 to job number 2. Then, she asked me how work was this morning. An innocuous question, of course, but I declined to respond in favor of lighter topics. She then told me about a new recipe that she was trying out. When I’m stressed I’m distracted. Even though this conversation only happened a few hours ago, I couldn’t even tell you what she was cooking at the time. At the end of the conversation, she mentioned a future phone call and I bluntly said that I would be “intolerably busy” between now and, like, December 18th.

Do you ever just have one of those days where you work like crazy but still have to play catch up the next day? That’s how my life is going to be for a solid month. How can you take time out for yourself when 24 hours a day is barely cutting it to stay afloat? I’m not sure. Do I manage stress? I suppose not!

The thing is, relaxation, like any other chore, takes time. Taking a Friday evening off or buying yourself a fun dessert probably is not the key to actually managing your stress. It would be like trying to treat a brain tumor with an ice pack.

Chest pain, headaches, irritability, over-eating/ underrating/ binge-eating/ binge-drinking, fatigue, sadness, social withdrawal, cold symptoms, and angry outbursts can all be manifestations of stress. Stress is your body’s way of telling you that there is some sort of threat or challenge. In dangerous situations, this may be the kick that you need to react in a way that prolongs your survival. However, most stress that we feel is not in reaction to life-threatening stimuli.

It is important to remember that stress is something that can be managed. Lifestyle change is hard. If we eat when we are stressed, our brains can conflate signs of stress for hunger. If we continue to feed the stress then we are reinforcing this pattern of behavior, which can lead to more stress.

It can be hard to meaningfully change one’s lifestyle when in a stressed state. Even if you don’t know how to manage your stress yet, recognition of one’s own behavior is a step in the right direction. I hope you are feeling good today, Dear Reader, and that you continue doing good things for yourself. And, if not, talk to someone, reflect, take some time off. I hope you take steps everyday to find a lifestyle that brings you maximum happiness.



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