It’s super easy to fall back into the stress cycle and get caught up in the stress swell. And It feels good, well…until it doesn’t. Until you have a new symptom, or you can’t sleep, or you snap at your kids.
I am battling what I believe is an addiction to stress. Or more specifically, my addiction to the heightened physical and mental state that comes with the typical stress response.
Stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine are known for increasing heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure to make us feel hyper focused and ready to take on any challenge.
Or in my words, they make me feel productive, efficient, and superhuman.
When life gets crazy and works piles on, I just go into solution-oriented, overdrive mega-me.
Fire drills? Let’s go. Stretch projects? Let me at them. In job interviews, I’m pretty sure I’ve used the word “thrive” when describing how I deal with pressure.
And I have proudly used the phrase “crazy busy” to describe my life more times than I’d like to admit.
No surprise, it’s also hard for me to relax. I immediately feel lazy, antsy, and uncomfortable.
I find myself numbing with social media scrolls or hustling on a new side project.
Note: Stress can also lead to more destructive numbing or addictive behaviors. Please seek help from a therapist.
And no surprise, I’ve been negatively impacted by the side effects of too much stress. I’ve felt burnt out, overwhelmed, and uninspired. I’m dealing with a wacky thyroid, a heart that gives me an extra beat every once in awhile, and some fun GI issues. Not to mention I recently threw out my back.
I’m not alone, 90% of all medical visits are related to stress…
However, it’s not like any of us can just go cold-turkey on stress. Stressors are part of everyone’s daily life and they are part of what helps us learn, grow, and become resilient. Some even call them the “spice of life.”
Listen, I’ve read zillions of self-help books, worked with mindset coaches and life coaches, taken meditation courses, and downloaded so. many. apps.
I already know what to do to relieve and release stress. I’ve written extensively about it. I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the topic.
But…like drugs, stress creates a “natural high” and stressors “wake up the neural circuitry underlying wanting and craving."
Or in other words, it’s super easy to fall back into the stress cycle and get caught up in the stress swell.
It feels good, well…until it doesn’t. Until you have a new symptom. Or you can’t sleep. Or you snap at your kids.
So what’s the solution?
I believe it’s grace
Rather than get stressed about being stressed, have grace.
Meditation practices are all centered on grace for a reason. Recognize and acknowledge what happened without judgement and give yourself permission to go from stress to rest.
Each time you give yourself grace, you’ll get better at listening to your body’s warning signs. Like a light on your car’s dashboard, you’ll know to pay attention. At the first sign, you’ll learn to pull over and rest.
Because if we don’t rest throughout the day, we never give our bodies and minds a chance to reset. And if we don’t reset, guess what?
We fall into old patterns.
And most importantly, love yourself through it. Love yourself until your nervous system realizes it’s actually OK to rest. It’s OK to just be. Love yourself until you realize that slowing down can be just as fulfilling as rushing around, if you’ll just let it.
Because your value isn’t determined by your productivity or your output or your busy-ness.
Your value is determined by the love you have for yourself.
Stress isn’t the bad guy. Stress just needs a little grace. And maybe a few Moment mints to help along the way. ;)
Note: There are a lot of effective ways to manage stress, but I believe it starts with having grace. If your stress is debilitating, please seek help from a therapist.