"Under pressure" is a great song performed by Queen and David Bowie, who are two of my favorite artists. When we experience stress we feel under pressure. Let's talk about it.
Stress. We all experience it, whether we are aware of it or not. Our stress might relate to our accomplishments, to our appearance, or to our efforts to achieve social acceptance. We feel the stress physically in our body when we find it hard to breathe, when our hands are shaking, or when we experience fatigue. Stress also impacts us mentally. When we experience memory issues, mental blockage, or exhaustion, we are less organized in our lives. As human beings, stress is a healthy tool we have as a way to protect us from dangers or uncertainties. Yet, sometimes the intensity of our worries can cause us physical or medical issues. When we start recognizing what is happening in our body, we gain the ability to choose how to act in a healthy way.
The most stressful elements in our lives include money, family, work, and relationships disputes. Our worries reflect our fears. We also tend to worry when we are outside of our comfort zone, and the ways we handle our worries may vary by generation and based on what we have learned in our childhood. At times, our fears are so overwhelming that we tend to numb them through food, drugs, shopping, or anything else that might help us put the emotions about our problems on hold and pretend they are not there. However, this does not have to be our future; we have the ability to change our habits.
April is Stress Awareness Month, signifying a good time for us to begin paying attention to our health, the impact our stress has on our lives, and begin working on our internal roadblocks to create a more fulfilled and pleasant life. This month is also National Alcohol Awareness Month. As such, I believe it is helpful to see how the two monthly focuses go hand in hand together. Since alcohol is a part of our social interactions and a significant part of some cultures, there is an expectation to consume it. For some, alcohol may take a larger part of their lives and not just be a social conformity, making it hard to manage, recognize, or even sometimes admit that there is a problem. Stress may lead to alcohol use, and alcohol use leads to more stress and more struggles in our lives, creating a hard-to-break cycle. When it is interfering with your decision making, when it impacts your relationships, when you do not feel free, or when you feel that you have no control, it is time for you to start working toward shifting your life to a healthier and more satisfying version of it.
So, what can you do?
First, start by noticing what your body is telling you. Being aware of the signs can be a crucial step in helping yourself.
Be aware of your sleep and eating habits. What can you improve?
Work on having a less judgmental perspective about yourself, which can provide some relief and a sense of satisfaction.
Experiment with physical activity. Exercise is a healthy way to release tension and may help regulate your nervous system. There is no need to do high intensity workouts, this can be as simple as taking a walk outside.
Search your spiritual or religious belief system, it can provide you comfort.
Laugh. As they say, laughter is the medicine we all have access to. What brings you joy and make you laugh more?
Like anything else, it is helpful to set concrete, concise, and reachable goals so those goals become less intimidating.
Recognize your stressors. This can help you eliminate or reduce them and feel more controlled. What does not serve you well?
Seek help! It is not a weakness but a strength that you are brave enough to admit that you want and deserve change.
Talk about your issues with someone you trust, it can help break down feelings of loneliness and help you feel more understood. Work on building healthy relationships.
Be a part of a community that helps you feel that you are not alone, but rather surrounded by love and acceptance. We all need a support system.
Lastly, it is important to celebrate your successes, doing so will give you momentum to keep moving forward.
I would like to end this post by quoting some lines from this great song, "Under Pressure":
Can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can't we give love that one more chance?
Why can't we give love, give love, give love, give love
Give love, give love, give love, give love?
'Cause love's such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
It is never too late to start working on yourself and on your relationships,
help is available.
You don’t need to struggle in silence…