Friday, September 21, 2012

Pressure Points

How do We Manage Stress and Tension?

Relax, Release, Refresh

How often do you feel this way?
This past few days have been very tense for me. I had a doctor's appointment today with my clinician and as you know from my previous posts, specifically "Dr. Of Doom," the days leading up to the appointment and the aftermath are always especially difficult for me. This appointment proved to be no exception. The anxiety and pressure that comes with weigh-ins leave me nearly debilitated. I feel as if the weight of the world is on my shoulders as I step on the scale and when I see that the number has gone up the weight (no pun intended) comes crashing down on me. Of course doctor's appointments and weigh-ins aren't the only things that cause me stress. The pressure I feel to stay healthy, do well in school, be social, and create a future for myself haunt me every day. We all have things in our lives that create stress and tension. The real question is how do we manage it and keep them in check? Sadly I don't have the magic answer. Nor do I have the perfect skills. (If I had the ideal coping mechanisms I wouldn't have an eating disorder nor would I feel the need to reflect through this blog.) But we all have some skills, healthy and unhealthy, that we use to calm down when the pressure becomes too much to bear. For me it's writing this blog, enjoying a cigarette (or two or three), drinking a warm cup of chamomile tea, sipping my favorite Pinot Grigio, and often just sleeping. 
3 R's: Relax, Release, Refresh
Not all of these are the best ways to cope with stress but they all serve the same purpose for me- relax, release, refresh. Lets call them the "3 R's." I know it's cheesy but to me it seems like a good system for unwinding when we become overwhelmed. First do something that brings you comfort and relaxes you. Whether it's running, cooking, or watching T.V. just get yourself to a state of relaxation. Once you have reached your ultimate level of calm (or the calmest you are able to get at that moment) release whatever is weighing you down. You can talk it out, write about it, do anything that allows you to get thoughts out of your head and into the world. Release them from your mind and in doing so release yourself from the prison this pressure creates. And finally once you have relaxed and released the thoughts refresh. Do something you enjoy and allow yourself to feel the relief and weightlessness of letting go of these worries. I in fact am in the process of completing this 3 step plan. After my appointment today my head was filled with negativity, anger, and fear. I bought myself a coffee at Starbucks and smoked a couple cigarettes to bring myself down. At this very moment I am completing step 2- release. Via my blog I am sharing my thoughts and worries with you and putting the pressure I feel out into the world. By doing this I am no longer carrying the burden of my thoughts alone. Once I complete this entry it will be time for my to engage in the third and final step- refresh. Personally I think this step is the most difficult. How are we supposed to feel better and engage in something fun after we have been through this miserable whirlwind? The only answer is to push ourselves or find a friend who will help you. Tonight I was planning on crawling in bad early, snuggling with my stuffed animals, and crying until I fell asleep. I alone did not have the mental stamina to push myself. But luckily I have a good friend who I shared my stress and feelings with who took upon herself to push me. There is a party at my friends' house next door tonight that I was supposed to go to. I was going to blow it off despite the fact that I have been planning going on all week. My friend convinced me that I should go and I am thankful to her for that. This party will be my release. I will drink a little bit, be surrounded by other people, hopefully be distracted from my tormenting thoughts, and potentially have fun! Fun- what a novel idea! Sometimes I forget what it is or that I, dare I say, deserve it. We all have pressure, stress, and tension in our lives but we need to figure out how to manage it and not let it overwhelm us or dictate our moods and behaviors. Now that I have shared quite a bit of my own stressors and personal insights with you I would like to offer you some words and advice said by others. First I am going to provide an affirmation-

I eliminate all stress from my life because my health and well-being is more important.

It's time to make our health our priority !
I was apprehensive about choosing this affirmation because I don't believe it is truly possible to eliminate stress from our lives. But what we can do is alter the way we approach and handle it. It is a simple fact that certain situations and tasks will bring on stress but we have the power, using the "3 R's" or any other relaxation method, to keep our stress level in check. The reason I picked this affirmation is because of the second portion that mentions health and well-being. This is an affirmation I would love to be able to embody and believe. I wish I regarded my health and well-being as my top priority but for some reason I don't. Something else is always getting in the way and I don't value my body and my health enough. But we all need to stop letting other things- work, family, crisis- get in the way of our taking care of ourselves. If we neglect our bodies and our well-being we will end up shortening our lives and missing out on moments and things that we want to experience. The things we are stressing about won't matter anymore if we cease to exist. It's time for us to put ourselves first. I have been and will continue to try and take care of myself and my body despite the pain and anguish it causes me. But I know that the alternative is far worse than a few extra pounds. I just need to remember this every moment of every day and make my health and my life my top priority as do you. I want to finish this lengthy and personal entry with a simple quote filled with valuable advice-

"You should listen to your heart, and not the voices in your head."

- Matt Groening

I am not going to bog down this quote with a personal take or words of analysis. I think it is pretty self-explanatory. Take it for what it is and do your best to follow it. Our minds and intellect often get the best of us and disable us. But our heart and our emotions express how we truly feel- follow their directions and you won't be mislead.

Relax, Release, Refresh,

1 comment:

  1. Your honesty and willingness to share inspires me. I am following your lead until I am strong enough to find my own way.