The human body is not programed for stress.
Scientists have said it, parents said it, friends said it, and now I’m saying it: OUR BODIES CANNOT TAKE STRESS. It is a dangerous thing—physically, mentally and emotionally; so, this is something that we need to avoid experiencing as much as we can. Unfortunately, that sounds like a fairytale to a lot of us.
And, it was a fairytale to me. With the constant death happening in my family, problems of the average teen, and just, you know, LIFE, I found myself very stressed.
At first, I didn’t realize I was stressed until my mother once told me she could hear it in my voice; so, this was my acknowledgement of my stress. I soon realized that my problems were overwhelming, but, what put me over-the-edge was the loss of my Uncle Wayne.
I was…devastated. My heart ached so much, but I was too worried trying to stay strong for my family; their pain was more important than mine. To top it off, I was away at school. The last thing I wanted was my family to worry about me even more because I wasn’t near. So, in due time, I saw that for me to for real for real be okay away from home, I needed to tap into my stress and do something about it.
So, just how bad is stress?
For some time, I couldn’t explain why I was feeling so anxious and depressed; I didn’t think stress could actually cause those things. I mean, yeah, I would freak out over things…a lot…that doesn’t mean that the stress would lead to anything else; it’s just a freak out, right? Well…I soon discovered that this freak out was more detrimental that I had anticipated.
Once I realized the level of stress I was feeling on my brain and my heart, I was curious to see if it could explain anything else I was feeling.
Upon some Googling—provided by WebMD—just with some stress, these are all the unpredictable things that can happen:
Mental Health Problems [i.e. depression, anxiety and personality disorders].
Cardiovascular Disease [i.e. heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks and stroke].
Obesity and other eating disorders.
Sexual Dysfunction [i.e. impotence and premature ejaculation in men, and loss of sexual desire in both men and women].
Skin and Hair Problems [i.e. acne, psoriasis and eczema, and permanent hair loss].
Gastrointestinal Problems [i.e. GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis and irritable colon].
I simply thought I was eating poorly and just didn’t like my classes. I discovered that my heart not feeling like it wasn’t beating normally was actually happening, not just me thinking that I was thinking too much into it. That this slight sadness that would sneak up on me out of nowhere was depression and my skin that use to never have pimples on it was becoming an acne valley…was all under the stress I was experiencing but wasn’t accepting. And…see how much can result from stress frightened me; there was no way I could continue to not do something about this.
Either I was going to figure out how to relieve myself…or risk my life ignoring it. So, how did I combat stress?
It was a long process, but, I can genuinely say I’ve made a ton of process and that my stress levels have decreased A LOT. Now, I’m not going to lie to you, there are still some moments in which I feel stress, BUT, it is not at the same levels as it was in my past.
It is common for us to experience moments of stress. However, the problem arises when stress is involved in many our moments.
So, to convert my stress from an everyday-oh-my-god-let’s-hang-out-all-day friend to an unknow-long-lost-I-probably-never-met-you-before friend, I started practicing these 5 things and do so every single day:
Put it on the Man Upstairs: Being a woman who has been really getting into her faith, I’ve realized that once I out my problems on Him, I don’t have anything to worry about. And honestly, once I started doing this, my life literally began to turn around and so many doors opened for me because stress wasn’t being a barrier any longer.
Drink Some Tea, Sis: Working in a coffee shop so much, I was a heavy coffee drinker and espresso guzzler. Too much caffeine intake is not good for stress and can heighten it. So, I had to cut back before I sped into an endless stress cycle.
Hit the Gym: The less active I became, the sadder I became. I didn’t realize how uplifting physical activity was…until I stopped doing it. I picked up a gym routine and stick to it. When I skip a required day, I always feel bad
Start Journaling, Not Just Writing: Yes, yes, I am always writing, but journaling is different. There are things I will reveal and cry into my journal that I’m not ready to be that vulnerable with when writing. Nope, not doing it. So, ya girl got a journal.
Love That Reflection: For a while, I just…wasn’t comfortable looking in the mirror. No matter how much make-up I had on, how nice a picture came out or how many compliments I got, there was nothing that made me like what I was looking at. Then…one day…I decided enough was enough. If I couldn’t love me and couldn’t be proud of what I saw in the mirror…how was I going to make sure someone else would realize who I am? I couldn’t. I wanted to love me cause I needed to properly give and receive love. As a response, I always tell my reflection that I love her.
Simple enough, right? Exactly. Though stress is tough, it’s not impossible to overcome.