I feel like I can’t catch a break!
This day is going to be a total waste.
Go ahead, kick me while I’m down.
I cannot handle another thing. And another thing just keeps happening.
The good news? This 4-minute crash course will help you identify common mistakes people make when stressed. It will also give you three better choices for those times when you’re having a case of the Mondays. At the end of this article, you can sign up for my new FREE stress management e-course: 6 Proven Ways to Calm Down.
I’m glad you asked. The truth is: life is a hell of a teacher. Suffering and stress nearly destroyed me, but self-compassion, self-care, and professional help have changed my life. So, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned along the way, in hopes that you save yourself some trouble.
If you heed this advice, you’ll quickly be able to avoid compounding your stress. You might even be able to help those you care about, too!
When we’re stressed to the max, it’s easy to find other stressed out people. Like attracts like, right? However, when is the last time you left a grip session with another miserable person and felt better about it? When did it change your situation or improve your outlook?
Like it or not, the best thing you can do for yourself when you’re stressed is to avoid other stressed people, who are operating in a negative headspace.
Instead, surround yourself with people who seem to be in a good place.
Can’t handle the super optimistic, always-bubbly personality? Fine – read a book. Alternatively, listen to a podcast. Chill out with some music. Or make an appointment with a counselor or life coach. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re filling yourself up with useful, positive, helpful information.
Otherwise, it’s all garbage in/garbage out, and you’ll never get better that way.
Here’s a great article from HuffPost: 5 Ways Commiserating Keeps You from Moving Forward
When I’m stressed and not dealing with it healthily, I want one of two things: ice cream or alcohol. No, really.
The sugar gives me that temporary rush (and who doesn’t love some Ben and Jerry’s?), and the beer (or maybe the whiskey) helps my shoulders lower. But it doesn’t fix anything. After the sugar or the buzz wears off, I’m still dealing with whatever stressors put me there in the first place. And now I’m dealing with all those extra calories, plus the guilt from binging.
Netflix? Zoning out on your phone? Smoking a cigar on the back patio?
Look, I’m not anti any of the things listed above; the problem is the heart behind it.
Instead of engaging in numbing behaviors, why not deal with the stress in healthy, productive ways, and then reward yourself with a treat or your favorite show? See the difference?
Instead of the ice cream or the booze, why not take a walk when you’re stressed? Rather than Netflix or Facebook for two hours (I’m guilty, too), why not get together with a friend who always seems to listen without judgment? Or have that stogie while you make a phone call to your life coach.
Read this from Psychology Today: Stop Numbing Out and Awake To Your Life
I was reeling from panic attacks brought on by my childhood sexual abuse. I tried to cover it up in the following ways:
Making the rest of my life seem perfect.
Becoming involved in every church activity possible.
Masking the pain by being the life of the party.
Eventually, it all came tumbling down, and I had to face myself for the first time in 29 years.
A shame-based culture tells us to discount our pain and avoid seeming weak at all costs. We try to Botox our flaws away, and we wish life came with an Instagram filter. But perfection is a big nasty lie. And the only way to move forward when it feels like you’re drowning is to find the courage to tell the truth and ask for help.
You have to start telling the truth.
Stress is a serial killer. Shame is, too. And the only way to combat the two is by speaking your pain and triggers aloud. Who can you trust when it feels like your life is coming apart at the seams? A parent? Your partner? That mental health professional you’ve been meaning to re-schedule with for six months? Your best friend?
Brene’ Brown says, “Shame can’t survive being spoken.” She’s right. (Hint: she’s always right.)
So find the courage to tell the truth. Admit that you’re not okay. Tell someone you’re stressed out. And ask for help.
Think you can’t afford help? Think again. Check out lowcosthelp.com today. Low-Cost Help is a national directory of affordable and sliding scale counseling services. Access to affordable mental health care should never be limited by your ability to pay.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
VIDEO: Why It’s Time to Let Go of Past Pain & Move Forward
The Top 3 Mistakes People Make When Stressed
You are not the worst mistake you’ve ever made.
Why I Still Trust God When Shame Feels Heavy
Suicide and Children: What You Can Do
Pastors and Suicide: What Should I Know?
VIDEO: I was a pastor when I nearly died by suicide.
WEBINAR: Answering Your Questions about Holiday Stress
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