This past summer I found myself in the middle of a raging storm of stress, emotional pain, loneliness and confusion. Within the span of a few short months my sister moved away, my dog died, my best friend of 18 years broke up with me, and worst of all, our child’s special needs were taking a huge toll on him and the entire family.
I was in valley of difficulty in the worst possible time — summer vacation. When my kids needed me to be planning adventurous memorable moments, I was fighting as hard as I could just to stay afloat. The pit of loneliness and despair were close at hand. Things that would normally roll off my back felt insurmountable.
At the lowest point I fantasized about running away and starting over. It was hard to have my children needing me when I felt so weak. I wanted to escape into a life of no responsibilities and no pain.
Logically, I knew that type of life didn’t actually exist. But that is how I felt.
Thankfully, history reminds us that it can’t rain forever. It may be pouring in your life right now but soon the storm will subside and your future will be bright again. Below are a few things I found helpful in walking through what at the time felt like a storm that would swallow me whole.
5 Tips to Reduce Stress and Process Emotional Pain:
- Allow Yourself to Grieve – No matter how small your loss or disappointment, give yourself space to feel what you feel. Each one of us handles things differently so don’t compare your emotions or feelings against someone else’s. Stuffing your emotions may give you momentary relief but you will pay for it in the long run. It’s best to deal with things as they arise no matter how silly they seem.
- Grab a Pen – Writing can be incredibly helpful in gaining perspective in the midst of whatever it is you are experiencing. Giving yourself the time and freedom to journal your thoughts and feelings is a great way to process through all the junk and get to the heart of the matter. “Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips.” — Anonymous
- Ask for Help – Asking for backup requires us to remove our mask of self sufficiency and admit that we can’t do it on our own. Being strong and self sufficient is something our society places a high value on, so for many of us, our ability to reach out for help only comes when we are already drowning. Not only is revealing your vulnerability good for friendship it’s a good reminder to ourselves how interdependent we really are..
- Let go of the Nonessentials – It can be helpful to evaluate your commitments and let the less important things go while you are overwhelmed. Every time you say “yes” to something you are saying “no” to something else. Ask yourself what really needs your attention and let go of everything else. Don’t forget to release the expectations other people put on you as well. Essentialism is a fantastic book if you struggle with doing too many things and have a hard time saying no.
- Exercise and Get Proper Nutrition – Normally when we find ourselves depressed, overextended, or stressed to the max the last thing we want to do is exercise. With no time and even less energy it can feel like asking yourself to climb Mt. Everest, but if there was ever a time to put your physical and emotional well being on the front burner it is now. For me The Mood Cure, by Dr. Julia Ross, was a Godsend. I took the mood type online questionnaire and got the right amino acids to feed my brain where it was lacking. If you or anyone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression I HIGHLY recommend this book! I also clocked in some time at the lap pool. Taking my aggression out on the water did wonders!
I hope this list helps you find a little shelter next time the rain pours in your life. Never underestimate the havoc stress can wreak on your body and mind!
TAKE ACTION: Whether you are currently in a high stress season of life or not, evaluate your schedule and consider whether or not there are a few nonessentials you can let go of to make room for better, more nourishing things that will feed your body, mind, and soul.