For the past year I have lived fairly stress-free. I haven’t had too much pressure in my life as I’ve been discovering more about myself and where I want to be. I’ve had it easy – I lived with my parents, worked part time, volunteered and had no real responsibility.
It was a time for me to regroup and refresh. But it got to the point where I was bored. I didn’t feel challenged. I needed more.
I needed to get back to reality. I got a full time job which I have been at for just over two months. And last weekend I moved into my own place.
Things are good. I like my job. I love my new place. Living on my own again has made me feel alive, and I am loving getting settled in and having things exactly how I want them.
But with reality comes stress. Jobs can be stressful. Budgeting is very stressful. Finding time for the every day things like laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, cleaning, etc can be stressful.
I am not complaining. I love that I am doing all of this for myself again. I love feeling challenged. I love organizing my day and prioritizing my needs. I love figuring it all out.
But it can be stressful, for ALL of us. And stress can be a very dangerous thing.
The stress of my week manifested itself physically yesterday. A situation came up at work (after an already difficult week) that required immediate action and had a short deadline. I jumped on it immediately because I am the type of person who doesn’t panic in a stressful situation, but instead dives in and figures out how to handle it and get in done. I generally thrive under pressure.
And the situation turned out well.
At this point it was 2:30pm and I had not had lunch. I ran out to grab something to eat and as I sat in a drive-thru I began to feel stabs of pain in my back. Realizing how tense my body was, I tried to relax it.
I got back to the office, sat down to eat and sharply turned in my chair to make a joke to my co-worker. I froze. Pain went shooting across my upper back. I gasped. My co-workers suddenly surrounded me because they could see something was really wrong.
I couldn’t move. Breathing hurt. Smiling hurt. My eyes filled with tears us to the severe pain.
Then my face began to go numb. Half of my lip stopped moving when I talked. My eyes and cheeks twitched.
Fear took over. A panic attack began.
Luckily my company cares for seniors and my boss is a nurse. She helped me out of my desk chair and into a lift chair (designed for seniors who have trouble getting up), where I rested for half an hour.
Then I went home (driving was difficult), popped some pain killers and spent the rest of the evening in bed.
That was all caused by stress.
Stress is dangerous.
And we live in a culture that not only creates it, but encourages it.
Something needs to change.
Stress can cause unbelievable harm to a person’s body, mind and soul. It can cause heart attacks, depression and change one’s personality.
We constantly talk about the dangers of alcohol, drugs and diseases such as cancer. But what about the dangers of stress?
And what can we do to lessen the stress of life?
First of all, we can give ourselves a break. We put so much pressure on ourselves to accomplish everything, be the best constantly and never quit. These are great goals, but when they takeover and become stress, we have to know when to step away.
We have to be able to let ourselves off the hook, knowing we did our best.
We also need to think about how our stress affects others. I have one co-worker who stresses quite easily, and when she is stressed she begins to yell and snap at everyone.
That in turn causes me stress. I don’t believe there is ever a reason to yell at someone – it doesn’t accomplish anything. And there is no reason to snap at people either; that just creates a tense work space.
We all need to learn when to just breathe. We need to learn to day “ok, I’ve done my best and that is all I can do.”
Life is too short.
Don’t spend it stressed out or in panic mode.
Stress will always come. It is unavoidable. But we can choose how we respond to it. And we can know when it is time to let it go.
Let the unnecessary stress in your life go.
Tomorrow is a new day. It is a new start.
All you can do is your best and that IS good enough.