There are moments in life when you feel as if you are carrying a load too heavy to carry. There are times when you start to feel the crushing weight of worry, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. These moments seem often to come out of nowhere. These moments can have adverse effects on your daily living and personal perspective. What do you do when you begin to feel crushed by life’s load? To answer this, it’s important to look at three key factors in stress management. Let’s consider the following:
- What are your specific reactions to stress?
- What message are you telling yourself about the stressful situation?
- What stress relieving tools are currently within your reach?
Some common reactions to stress are crying, depressed mood, overeating, and smoking. You may be short tempered or feel pessimistic. You may also feel the physical sensation of pain. Understanding your reaction to stress will provide an opportunity for one to realize the source of these feelings. Understanding these feelings and behaviors as they are attributed to stress can provide a sense of control. As a therapist, there are times when I meet with a patient and they exhibit these symptoms. They are often fearful because they don’t understand why they feel this way. “Why can’t I stop crying?” They are so accustomed to carrying the load it doesn’t occur to them that it is simply stress. Naming the source of the problem can provide a vehicle to focus and begin to problem solve.
The message we tell ourselves about the stressful situation will determine our outcome in that situation. If we interpret the stressor to mean all is lost and things are hopeless, we will begin to react in the manner we believe. If we tell ourselves this is only temporary, we will develop the strength and resiliency necessary to move forward, usually a little wiser. Ultimately our beliefs help determine our steps.
When faced with stressful situations it is important to identify your resources. There is a tendency to isolate yourself and focus within when faced with stress. I believe that is the time to begin to rely on your support system. Support can come in the form of supportive family and friends. Support can also be community resources. Once you allow others to share the burden you may find that the load is much lighter.
We live in a world where stress is inevitable. Gaining the tools to manage stress successfully can make the difference in maintaining healthy mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Hang in there and don’t give up!
Alicia Lurry MA LPC CRC