I have a question for you… how do you handle stress and overwhelm?
I’ve recently had the realization that there are two major ways in which most of us manage stress in our lives.
The first way that many of us manage stress is by shutting down. Many of us feel a need to retreat when we feel overwhelmed by the world around us. We feel like there is just too much to manage, and so we choose to close ourselves off and take a break from dealing with the stressors at hand. We may isolate ourselves from the people that matter to us, avoid responsibilities, and feel a bit rundown and lethargic.
The second way that many of us manage stress is very much the opposite of the first. Instead of shutting down, many of us decide to add as many things as possible to our to-do list. We turn into overachievers and spend every second of the day checking things off our list. We believe that by being productive, we are proving that we can handle it all, and oftentimes handle it all by ourselves. We overextend ourselves so much, that we don’t have time to even think about our stressors. We may feel a bit exhausted and drained as a result.
The truth is, neither one of these two extremes is particularly helpful. In both instances, we are avoiding the very difficult task of coping with our feelings. Whether we choose to avoid our stressors by laying on the couch, or by adding on to our never-ending to do list, we are still very much avoiding something that needs to be addressed. And avoidance never leads to us feeling good. The only way out of stress and overwhelm is through these difficult feelings. We must take the time to figure out what is causing us to feel this way, do what we can to change the circumstances that are within our control, and accept and let go of the ones that are not.
So think about it… which of these two habits is your natural method of coping with stress and overwhelm? Do you tend to avoid and isolate, or overextend and overachieve?
Once you have figured out your natural tendencies, you can start taking small steps towards balance. The best way to do this is to notice when you catch yourself falling into your old patterns, and start to take a small step in the opposite direction.
If your natural tendency is to shut down and retreat from the world, you might decide to meet a friend for coffee, go for a walk, or have a dance party. These activities will uplift you and may give you the extra bit of motivation that you need to keep moving in a more positive direction.
If your natural tendency is to add on to your to-do list, you might instead decide to slow down by drinking a cup of tea, listening to some soothing music, or binge watching your favorite show on Netflix. These activities will encourage you to give yourself some space to breathe, rest, and recuperate.
I hope that you find this helpful! In the comments below, I would love to know which of these two tendencies do you naturally gravitate towards? I personally am more of a lay on the couch and avoid the world kind of girl, and I am well aware that this behavior is not serving me so I am going to be taking steps in the other direction. I hope that this encourages you to start noticing your own patterns and start taking steps towards more balance in your life.
Wishing you a peaceful week.
P.S. If you enjoyed this conversation, you would love my new Facebook group, The Stress Free Society. It’s a private space to connect with other women who are working to find inner peace in their busy lives. We have daily discussions on simple ways to decrease stress and anxiety and would love for you to join us! Click here to join the group now! 🙂 I look forward to connecting with you more personally in the group!