We all experience stress. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much stress we have in our life until something forces us to pay attention to it. I am very much prone to this. For instance, I was caught off-guard with a Shingles diagnosis in the fall of 2018 after nearly a year of sleep-deprivation coupled with publishing my first book and managing all my other work and life stuff. I distinctly recall my doctor asking me about stress and advising me that stress was a trigger for a Shingles outbreak. That was an eye-opener.
Be mindful about your stress
I am by no means an expert at managing stress, but I am getting better at sensing when I need to step back and loosen up. In fact, I have been able to practice the stepping back and loosening up many times over the last few months that I have been at home, working remote and tending to the needs of my family. I really like being at home and spending time with my family but working strictly from home and assuming the roles of teacher, referee, short-order cook and counselor in addition to parent has been . . . well . . . stressful. This is not a complaint though and I don’t view this time as bad or unpleasant. It has mostly been the opposite. Most importantly, it has forced me to be more mindful about my stress. I have said “no” a lot more. No to the dear people at my church who wanted my input on new benevolence policies. No to virtual extracurricular activities and lessons for my kids. No to worrying about the color of my hair and the nail polish I still can’t get off my fingernails. No really is the new yes for me. Let me say that last sentence a different way – By saying no, I acknowledge my own needs first.
Stress happens but we can choose how to react
Stress is a part of life. Sometimes the stress we feel motivates us to accomplish a task or meet a deadline. Other times the stress we feel is significant and debilitating. In my practice, I observe clients become emotionally, physically and mentally scattered by stress as they grieve the end of a marriage or mourn the death of a loved one. It can be hard to take steps to better care for ourselves when stress is present and yet, taking care of ourselves is the reaction to stress that helps us get through it.
Reach out and say no more
If you are having a tough time managing stress or you feel overwhelmed by it, reach out to a friend or professional for help. Remember: saying no is the new yes!