Friday, January 20, 2012

Words, Words, Words about Stress

"I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once." Jennifer Yane

I completely relate. Several days attacked me at once, and for some reason my ability to cope just gave up and left me late yesterday afternoon. I want to thank my friends at Stephen Ministry for listening to me babble incoherently for a bit last night. That helped.

"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment." Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

While I think Marcus is a bit optimistic about our ability to control our thoughts so completely (especially when we moms are worried about our children!), I do take his point. A friend called Wednesday with another dollop of bad news in her life, a side-swipe of significance. I listened to her very understandable drama and saw how she was flailing in panic in a bit of rough surf, yet I could see that her situation--bad as it is--offers many opportunities to solve itself that she can't see because salt water is splashing in her eyes. She will find footing in the sand again and start bobbing comfortably in the waves.

And so will I.

Like many women (and some men), I'm a talker and need someone to listen when I am stressed out. Fortunately, I'm blessed with many friends and family who do listen. I also work out my stress by organizing the material aspects of my life...but with the new house situation, I have a bit too much to organize right now! I try to focus on one thing, finish that, move to the next. Lately, however, I've been a crow randomly flying from one shiny bit of chaos to another without much to show for my effort. Today's the day for mental readjustment, for breathing, for taking Marcus Aurelius' advice and revoking my estimate of the problem. I'm seizing today.

What do you do to stop panicking and start bobbing in the surf? How do you adjust your mental attitude to cope with the stresses of life when they hit you? Please share.


  1. Have you ever watched Chicken Run? There's an option on the DVD menu for the panic button, and what the chickens do next is pretty much how I feel most days.
    I think the most important thing for me is to give myself permission to freak out & lose my cool. I take a nap, I go out & walk the dog. Lately most of my walks with her have been at night, and so I can cry while we walk without getting funny looks. It's cold as, well, it's cold, but we go sit at the park for a while, I re-compose myself, and we head home. And then we do it again a day or two later when I get overwhelmed again.
    The power of a good nap goes a long way too.
    Wishing you some brighter, less stressful times, Susan :)

  2. I think what works best for me is deadlines. Or triage. I ask myself which fire do I put out first?

    Which requires....organization! Yes, my coping mechanism is the same as yours.

    Once I have all my ducks in a row I am able to be just a little more calm. I still have the stress; but it isn't quite as debilitating.

    We leave on vacation in 21 days. Before we go I have my daughter's 30th birthday party, an all day scrapping fundraiser, a super bowl party, a play to attend, a skating competition to attend, a hair and nail appointment, an overnight guest and three 56 hour work weeks.

    Time to get a list going and get organized!

    PS As far as your house goes. Pick ONE area, get that done and then move on. You'll feel so much better.

  3. Love those two quotes. Sorry to hear you have been bumped around a bit :(

    I don't tend to be a worrier and have a fairly high level of stress tolerance, but when it is overwhelming, or just plain irritating, a good work out does wonders -- gotta love endorphines :) Thinking "what is the worse that can happen" is a great way to think things through, or writing down your thoughts vs. reality on a piece of paper to see how your mind has blown things out of proportion or had you thinking off the chart. Of course, falling to your knees in prayer is always a great way for me to recalibrate too.

  4. A good nap-or an escape into a good novel. Right now your quotes will help a situation at home as my DH makes some life-changing decisions. Thanks for that.

    Crafting makes me feel better as I totally focus and forget my problem.
    HOpe all sorts itself out for you. Have a good weekend.

  5. Panic is such a scary feeling. When I got the phone call from my sister that my Dad had had a heart attack while driving which resulted in him seriously crashing his car and he was being rushed to the trauma unit, I went into serious panic - I live 3,000 miles away so couldn't easily get there to be with my Mum and sisters - they said to wait till they had further news before flying out. So I went out into the garden and worked in my flower beds and listened to the birds and had multiple cups of tea. It happened last spring so at least there was the calming effect of gardening. And he pulled through and is now doing amazingly well despite many injuries. If it had happened now in the dead of winter, I'd have turned to the cups of tea and my knitting as I find that a very relaxing, stress-reducing activity (though not quite as good as gardening).

    For lesser stresses than that, I'm a talker too and am thankful for my sisters and girlfriends who listen. I consider a supportive network of women to be one of life's huge gifts.

  6. When I'm stressed, I get into a mode where all I can think is, "I can't, I won't, you can't make me". My mother is the best at fixing it for me. Her solution isn't to tell me how well I will do at whatever it is, or how much fun I'll have, or even how much I enjoyed it last time. Her reply - "so don't". My response is invariably, "but I want to!" Problem solved. Early in our marriage, she taught my husband how to do this for me, too. He's not as perfect at it as my mom, but he's getting better. He doesn't get to hear me panic nearly as much as my mom did, living through the turbulent teenage years with me, so he gets far less practice.

  7. Stress has been a big part of my life now days. I'm just thankful for the mornings I wake up and it's not the first thing I think of.
    What helps me is making lists to help organize my thoughts, clean up something, throw out clutter and junk. Keeping your body busy (for me very hard physical labor)helps reduce the stress level and thoughts.
    Text messaging friends has helped a lot too. Have to keep it short and to the point.

  8. I'm no stranger to panic "that sudden overwhelming fear that attacks its victims in real or imaginary danger" (learned that definition in lifeguard class thirty-five years ago). I have suffered from mild panic attacks for the last twenty years of my life. My best solution is to get out my Bible and start reading. It always calms me down, no matter what chapter or page I start on. I am comforted and reassured that in the end, God's got it all in His hands and that's a good place for it to be.

  9. Prayer and chocolate seem to be the only thing that helps me!

  10. Ooh-changes in format-love it!

  11. Wow, I clicked over because it had been too long since I'd wandered your way and found comfort because for reasons I can't easily explain, I'm struggling too and I wrote a post about it before reading yours! The season of the year, the season of our lives, the alignment of the planets, the alignment of our neurons; I wish I understood why sometimes everything inside of me falls apart.

    Raising children magnifies the significance of every emotion, and I'm finding aging throws things at me I'm not really prepared to deal with, despite all my coping mechanisms. I hope you find peace today and I hope joy finds you. : )

  12. When I feel overwhelmed and panicked, I start with prayer. That always helps. For me, it's the rosary, calmly repeating the ancient prayers and contemplating those mysteries. For everyday sanity, I have to have at least one room in my home that is "just so". Once I have that, I feel I can take on anything else life throws my way.

  13. Oh, Susan I really relate to the description of the crow randomly flying from one shiny bit of chaos to another! This is how I feel when I am totally overwhelmed. At that time, I usually have a little meltdown, stop doing anything I SHOULD be doing, and do NOTHING for a bit. This helps reset my thoughts and start afresh with renewed vigour. I am lucky that my husband recognises my stress meltdowns and takes over for a while. I am a very lucky girl!

    I hope you are back on an even keel again and that it all looks manageable again. I love both the quotes, I relate to both of them.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!