When asked if I get stressed out, because I am so busy and involved with many things at once, the simple answer is no; not anymore. At one point the simplest thing would get to me. I constantly was on edge and it had a negative impact on my health. During the most stressful time I was losing weight and my hair was falling out! I wanted to be the friend to always help out, even if I put myself last. I was looking at the smaller picture of life instead of the larger one.
I control my stress levels by not allowing things and people to have that power over me. If I am to the point where my hair is literally coming out in clumps, then something is not right and must change immediately. In the past I would try to use I-statements (I feel, I think, etc.) with my friends and family to express myself. This method is supposed to work and be non-offensive, but I found it to be the complete opposite! The solution that worked best for me was to start cutting stressors loose. Turmoil was no longer allowed a seat in my life. Bittersweet is the adjective that would best describe this period for me. A lot of what I knew had flipped upside down. My friends list dwindled, the usual hangout spots became a rarity, and there was enough silence around for me to actually get to know me.
Silence helped me to get back in tune with myself and to straighten things out. I had to learn to enjoy my own company, like being with myself, figure out what my hobbies were, and find my voice before I could begin to ask others to do the same. Consistency with my new found boundaries helped to turn this trial run into a lifelong habit. When it is just me in a room I feel at peace. There is no screaming, no dysfunction, no drama, no lies, no hate, or non-sense. This is the outline that I must maintain when I invite or allow others to be involved in my life.
If an individual brings along danger, negative criticisms, put-downs, draining personas, one-way friendships, and cannot offer anything positive then I have to put my foot down. Finding myself and surrounding myself with likeminded people has helped ease this transition in thinking for me. Saying, “no” comes very easy to me now. I am alright saying no, meaning it, and sticking to it. I have to for my own wellbeing.
Finding things that I enjoy participating in helps to keep my mind busy. Learning, traveling, reading, creating art, meeting new people, and music all make me happy. Learning is a big one. It helped me greatly when it came to stress. I learned how to stay happy. Friends, family, strangers, and objects do not have my permission to cause me grief and stress. When I start to see it brewing it is time for me to remove myself from the situation (i.e. friendship, phone call).
My home is a space that I value and find peace. I cannot allow negative energy to be brought into it. I am choosy with who visits because of this. If there is not peace at home, where can you find peace?
Currently, my life is wonderful and I would not want it to be any different. Major adjustments that I have made to achieve this include painfully cutting strings to some toxic friendships, setting boundaries on information that people can relay to me, doing more activities that I personally enjoy, and not sweating the small stuff. If the worst thing that has happened to me is catching every red light on the way to work, then my day is going great!
When it comes to stress you have to decide what is important to you. Is a toxic friendship worth more than a good night’s sleep? Is partying worth more than receiving a degree? Is having the latest designer labels worth more than making a mortgage payment? It boils down to choices and permission. Me? I do not give things permission to make me stressed. Why? I do not have to. People that love you will not drag you down and people that truly want the best for you will not discourage you.
What is your best advice to someone that finds themselves stressed often?