Stress and Me

When I was in year 8, we did this activity in Health and Human Education where we each had an envelope with our name written on the front. The envelopes sat on our desks and we walked around the classroom writing descriptive words about each other on little slips of paper that we placed in the envelopes.

About 60% of the words I got were: Quiet. The other 40% of the words I got were: Happy.

Quiet, I understood. I’ve always been quiet. It’s the word people have always called me. For the most part, I like being quiet. I love thinking, listening, observing, dreaming, and I’m always analysing.

But happy? This surprised me. I’d never thought of myself as happy. Not because I thought I was unhappy, but because happiness didn’t really cross my mind.

But seeing all those words in the envelope made me question: Am I happy?

This is what ran through my mind: I don’t think so. I always thought I was stressed.

For as far back as I could remember, that’s how I saw my state of being: stressed. About fifteen years later and it’s the same story.

I never thought there was something wrong with this until this week when I thought about how this year my stress has gotten out of control.

Stress has always been part of me so I thought it was normal, and maybe I was even weirdly proud of my stress because it meant I cared and it drove me to action. Stress has been my best motivator, almost like a helpful friend.

But this year the stress moved from just being in my head to my body. This is what it feels like: My neck, shoulders and back go tense to the point where I sometimes feel pain. My stomach feels nauseous. My chest feels tight and my heart feels like it’s racing and thumping to the point where it hurts sometimes.

And what I’ve noticed is that even when I’m not stressed about anything in particular and even when I know there’s no reason to be stressed, there’s nothing I can do to control how my body feels. It’s horrible. I want it to stop, but I can’t stop it.

For a while now I’ve been feeling tense all the time in my mind and my body. And often it’s the tenseness in my body that makes my mind tense.

Maybe I have anxiety. Maybe I need outside help. Maybe I need to look at my stress in a new way because for the first time I can say it isn’t good for me.

What are your experiences with stress and anxiety?

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15 thoughts on “Stress and Me

  1. Hi Juni. It is possible you suffer from anxiety. One of the key issues in diagnosis is the degree to which the symptoms interfere with your normal day to day life. Even without an official diagnosis, there are some simple things you can do to address the physical symptoms of tension.

    Here are some links that I hope you find helpful:

    http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/audio-courses/316-10-best-ever-anxiety-management-techniques

    https://counselling.anu.edu.au/brochure/10-best-ever-anxiety-management-techniques

    http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/management

    http://psychology.tools/anxiety.html

    God bless you!

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    1. Hey, thanks so much for those links. Will definitely check them out. I don’t think it interferes with my daily life on the outside, but on the inside it’s not fun, especially when my body hurts from the tenseness.

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  2. Sounds like anxiety to me, too. Might be worth talking to someone about ways to manage it so it doesn’t get worse. My opinion anyway.
    I also recently wrote about physical manifestations of emotions, stress included. The emotional and physical connection is strong. (It’s called Where Does It Hurt?, if you want to read it).

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  3. I’ve had exactly what your describing many different times in my life. I’ve also had my anxiety escalate to panic attacks. Saturating myself in God’s word and repeating verses helped me through it.

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    1. Not fun. I’ve never had a panic attack but sometimes worry that one might come in the future if this gets worse, since I can’t control it at the moment. Definitely need to fill my mind with God’s thoughts rather than my own.

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  4. Dear Juni,

    I like your attitude towards what you call stress so far… to consider it a friend.
    It is your body which produces this reaction- whatever you’d like to call it and I invite you to not give it a label at all and to not look into the diagnosis of what it could be any further…
    So why give this friendship up?
    It has increased to an amount where you cannot consider it good for you any longer… well… so my idea would be to take this, too, as your friend’s advice – and take a look at your life and those components in it which stress you out…
    You have been mentioning that it got worse this year – what is different in your life this year compared to the years before?

    from my experience – personally and as a coach, therapist, intuitive and counsellor – EVERY physical symptom is a “call” from your body and soul with an important message to you about what changes or adjustments or corrections you may have to take care of in order to become well again…

    What I don’t see is that this call needs to be muted with medication, neither be answered by someone other than you yourself…

    Are going to pick up the phone?

    You say you want to look at your stress in a new way…? My take is that it is even a better friend that you have ever imagined it to be – and can be not only your motivator, but also your stopping sign when you have expected too much of yourself…

    Love yourself!
    Be gentle on yourself!
    You have been so much into self empowering issues, you can do this!

    And it is time now.

    Much love to you and may you find and live the truth of your soul
    Anke

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    1. I think it’s a friend in mild forms telling me when I need to take action, and I guess it’s a friend now too but in the sense that it’s telling me what I’m doing wrong and telling me I need to address something. I’m pretty sure I know what it is: my stress has always been due to worrying what people think. It’s due to that whole perfectionist and control freak part of me, and this year has been so out of control as I’ve stepped into the scary unknown with a new town, job, role, etc. It’s overwhelming. Usually my stress levels are manageable. It’s always at a constant 3 I reckon and that’s no problem. 5 is still usually no problem. 10 is when I have something scary coming up like a public speaking gig. But at the moment it feels like I’m at a 9 stress level all the time even when there’s nothing scary coming up. And I can’t get it down from there because it feels like the stress is too much and I don’t have control of it. Maybe it’s due to just a general fear outlook that I need to address.
      Anyway, thanks for getting me thinking!

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  5. Stress. Hmmm. Well I’m chronically sleep deprived (neurologist’s conclusion not mine though it makes sense now!) and that causes crazy levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in your body so it’s no wonder my other hormones have been confirmed out of whack and needing some love. Thankfully I have an awesome naturopath 🙂

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    1. I tend to take forever getting to sleep if I’m stressed – constantly thinking. If it’s really bad I’ll keep waking up and not being able to get to sleep. But even though my body aches from tension while I’m awake and my heart races and my chest burns while I’m awake when I’m stressed at the moment, I’m generally a deep sleeper. Have been my whole life – love it!

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      1. Does the ‘brain dump’ of writing down everything, worries included for 10 minutes before bed help? I’m hooked on guided relaxations to help me de-stress, hence my free guided meditation on the button on my blog 😉

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        1. Writing definitely does help. But when it’s bad, I still have a full head even after lots of writing. Sometimes all I do is write for days and days. I guess in that way it does help me get through the days but I become so introspective and don’t feel up to being with people at all when I’m that stressed.

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        2. Glad to hear that writing does help. Once I do my brain dump I have found that if I have emotions I need to process I head to my yoga nidra practice. There is a freebie by Jennifer Reis on her website if you’re interested.

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