How do you handle stress?

We all handle stressors in our life differently. Sometimes, we internalize and take it all on silently. Meanwhile, our emotions are crushing us inside and our thoughts may be swirling to negative places, spiraling into the dark crevices of our mind. This may be invisible to anyone in the outside world, but it may start to lead to feelings of resentment or hurt, when others do not recognize this very real pain that we are experiencing on the inside. Or, we may externalize. Maybe when you’re stressed, all of that energy comes out of you and lands onto the other people in your lives - your spouse, your friends, your kids. Maybe you yell or scream, get panicky or controlling, or try to boss around others. Maybe you turn to more destructive behaviors, like self-injury, drugs or alcohol, food, or sex as a way of coping with the stress that you’re feeling. Sometimes, it may be difficult altogether to even recognize when stress has such a death-grip on us, until we start to parse it out and really look at what is happening in our lives.

It’s also easy to blame our behaviors on “stress.” Everybody nowadays is STRESSED. Everyone is busy, overwhelmed, going a million miles an hour. It’s more rare in fact to find folks who are content. Peaceful. Experiencing a sense of calm in their lives. Sure, their Instagram might be all white and glowing and the perfect resemblance of serenity and grace, but that may be a facade, hiding the all-too-real anxieties and stressors that many (let’s face it - MOST) of us face.

Why has stress become our new normal? I could gripe about how our culture has shifted into one of convenience and instant gratification, and wax nostalgic about how things were different before smartphones (and I’m only in my early 30’s!). I could go there, but they would be mere speculation and not really based on anything other than my observations and biases. Or, I could point out a simple fact: cortisol in any high or consistent levels is actually damaging and toxic to our brain. So, this is not a healthy state to be in. The why IS important, AND it is also important for to us to figure out a different way of being in the world.

How could you start to introduce more peace into your own life? Do you desire to have less stress? What stressors are you currently facing? Would your life look different if things were slowed down? If you slowed down? And what does the stress ADD to your life? Does it help you to avoid or not approach things that may be difficult to face? Because let’s face it, it must do something for us - it doesn’t feel good and yet we often stay here, in this place of high stress, so what is the catch?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the above! And as always, if you want to discuss these issues, or any other issues, further - please don’t hesitate to reach out.