I have a very full life.
…And by “full”, I mean wonderful, meaningful, purposeful… just full, in every positive sense of the word. I have a loving, thoughtful and hilarious husband, three incredible kids and THE BEST friends I could ask for. I get to work for myself and with my husband, running two businesses out of our home. I have the privilege of being a part of this Lovely Project and watching lives be transformed on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis… and too many other good things to list here. I am undeserving of such a heaping portion of love and sweetness – but I’ll take it!
But all of the awesome things and relationships that make my life so wonder-full also require lots of work. And while it is work that I am glad to do, it is also work that is never done, and sometimes that’s overwhelming. Is it crazy for me to say that my life is so awesome it sometimes stresses me out?!
Generally speaking, I hate stress – most of us do. It makes people do weird things. It gets in the way of fun. It makes us forget what’s real. Stress just sucks.
Everyone endures stress from time to time, some with more grace than others. For me, it’s taken several years (and still counting!) of learning to deal appropriately with stress so that it does not (always) take over and begin to threaten the things I love the most.
Here are my top 3 ways to combat stress:
1. Phone a Friend.
Stress makes people do weird things – things like Facebook stalking, conspiracy theories and late night binges on Ben & Jerry’s, etc. None of which I would know anything about… #winkwink.
In those moments, I’ve learned to use one of my “lifelines” and phone a friend. Letting someone else in brings so much clarity. The belief that we are alone is what allows stress to blow a situation out of proportion. Sharing out loud with someone else reminds us that we aren’t as alone as we feel.
Where is the pressure coming from? Is your plate too full at work or school? Do you just need a listening ear? Do you need some advice? A close friend or family member can help by providing a source of wisdom, comfort and possibly even some good laughs. Talk it out. It just might keep your hands out of a pint of Ben&Jerry’s.
2. Redefine Failure.
Another thing that blows stress out of proportion is the fear of failure.
Stress happens when we feel threatened by the possibility that things may not work out our way. We run ourselves ragged worrying and fretting over things that haven’t happened yet and torturing ourselves with “what-if’s”.
A good response to stress would be to accept such obstacles as a challenge and face them, head on. To be able to grow in the courage that is needed to do such a thing, we need to redefine our idea of failure. I have learned, through painstaking experience, that failure is just part of the process of growth. It’s not only inevitable, but also necessary and a great teacher. But I won’t spend anymore time trying to teach you about failure myself, when you can get all of that directly from the person who taught me almost all I know about it. Please take a moment to read Dr. C’s article on 3 Tips to Tackle Failure – I promise you will be both encouraged and inspired.
3. Turn it off and on again.
Sometimes, you need a system re-boot – you’ve just got to take Roy’s advice and, “Turn it off and on again.”
Trust me, whether you are an IT Crowd fan or not, this advice actually really helps. Whatever the source of your stress is, just shut it down for an hour, for a day – and walk away. The situation will still be there when you come back. Go out to eat with some friends. Play with your kids. Take a walk outside. Read a book. Give yourself permission to have fun and relax for a little while. When time is up, go back and flip the switch – turn it on again. This “re-boot” for your system will clear your head and re-energize you so that you can approach your situation with new eyes.
I hope that these tips help you come out on top the next time you feel stressed out.
I hope that you have someone you can call on for support when you need it, and if you don’t, I hope you won’t be too afraid to ask for help. You have more sisters than you know. Stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to beat you down. Don’t let it rob you of the opportunity to rise to the challenge and discover your fierce side – because she’s lovely too.