Surviving stress and other broken promises

I promised myself this week that I would seriously consider the subject of stress and de-stressing. But alas, I did not do that. I’ve barely given it any thought, which is why I never make promises. That is, I don’t make them to other people, but continue to do it to myself, knowing that I can’t really be mad at me if I don’t follow through. This endless cycle of babbling thoughts is why I haven’t done what I said I was going to do, and is a symptom of the stress that I have come to know very well.

Everybody gets stressed; this is just a biological fact, whether you live in the middle of a bustling city or at the top of a lonely mountain. I like to think of stress (I use the word “like” lightly here) as a combination of worry, anxiety, and a sense of losing control. At least that’s how it is for me. However, in recent years I have found a way to emotionally pick my battles. That is, I try not to stress about the little things (being late for an appointment, wondering what to eat for dinner, what I’m going to do with a free day), and like to put all my energies into getting stressed about the really big things, like money, a five-year plan, and of course, the elusive ideal career.

Basically I focus my stress in big places, so that I can tell myself I am stressed for a really good reason. This knowledge in no way decreases my stress; it just explains it. And knowing what I am stressed about is also, in its own way, a bit of a help. There’s nothing worse than finding out you can’t leave the house until your next pay day, and then randomly losing your shit at the takeaway guy because he forgot to bring the garlic sauce. Your misplaced anger helps no one, least of all yourself.

So what do we do once we’ve identified the cause of the stress? Well, I don’t really do much at all. At the moment the thing I’m stressed about is my job, and the only way to alleviate that stress is to find new, more satisfying employment. And that is no easy feat, so I won’t be able to fix the issue immediately, which means I’m going to be smelling like stress for a long while until something changes.

Plus, the really crappy thing about stress for me, is that it takes the wind out of my proverbial sails, in relation to other things in my life that were previously enjoyable. And yes, that extends to having an interest in romantic relationships, enjoying food, going out with friends, and most of all being able to sleep at night. That’s usually my first sign of stress in fact; not being able to get to sleep and waking up 3 or 4 times during the night. It is as infuriating as it sounds.

When I was thinking about writing this post, I had hoped that I would come up with some helpful tips for de-stressing by the end of my rant, but I’m coming up short right now. The truth is, sometimes you’re just stressed and there is very little you can do about it. Especially when you know what it is that is bringing you so much grief. Although saying that, I am sure there are tips and tricks out there to help alleviate stress whilst you figure out how to get rid of the core problem – but those tips aren’t in this post I’m afraid.

Instead, this month I’ll be talking about all the things that stress me out, and although as I mentioned above, I assign the bulk of my stress to bigger, life changing things; that doesn’t mean the little things don’t still bother me. If anything, when stressed about bigger things, my tolerance for the little things, especially people, is wafer thin, if not completely non-existent. But more on that in another post.

Right now I’m going to go and eat my feelings, hoping I’ll be distracted enough by my own trough-like approach to eating that for a few moments, the stress subsides.

Image credit: Hammock by Royyan Razka from the Noun Project

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Maame Blue

Writer| Poet| Blogger| Ghanaian by heart, Londoner by nature

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