We are 18 months into this pandemic. Many of us were already confronting unsustainable levels of stress before the pandemic. It’s gotten worse balancing work/family, weighing health implications of basic activities again, wondering when the other shoe is going to drop and our kids will need to be quarantined. IT’S. A. LOT.
I am quite familiar with the challenges of metabolizing stress. I have Addison’s Disease, a chronic medical condition that affects the functioning of my adrenal glands. That means when I’m under stress, my body lacks the capacity to produce stress hormones and make up for it. For a while, I thought it was no problem—I’d take my medication and go about my life pulling all-nighters, managing difficult work situations, traveling for work, balancing a challenging kiddo, it was fine.
If I didn’t stop, it would all be okay.
Until it wasn’t.
My pattern of perfectionism-procrastination-anxiety and lack of attention to the impacts of stress caught up with me. I spiraled into months-long insomnia and massive anxiety. It was my crash and burn wake up call to radically change my life.
I began by identifying the external circumstances and internal realities causing stress:
· Toxic professional environments
· Work demands that didn’t align with my strengths
· Frequent travel away from my young kids
· Difficult relationships
· My internal world of self-criticism, perfectionism, self-doubt
· My difficulty articulating my needs and desires
· Poor coping mechanisms to deal with stressors
Then I had to make changes with the support of therapy and coaching so that my life worked for me.
Are you caught in a similar situation in which you are confronting mounting stressors but don’t know what to do about it?
Here are some questions to consider:
If nothing changes over the next 10 years, what will be the impact on your mental and physical health, work, relationships, and relationship with myself?
What are the external circumstances that are causing stress? List them all. Identify which ones you can do something about. Which ones do you need to form a different relationship with?
What are the internal realities that are causing stress? List them all (consider mindsets, habits, patterns, self-talk, etc.). Which are you ready to change in service of a more life-giving inner world?
What are you doing to cope with stress? Look at activities or practices that release stress and those that calm your system down. I have found that some of my clients are great at practices that calm them down like yoga, meditation, or breathing but don’t have stress-releasing practices (e.g., intensive exercise, embodiment practices, telling the truth to themselves, yelling at the wind, etc.). How often/when are you doing these practices (for real)?
Changing our inner world and external circumstances can be hard work, and it is WORTH IT to improve the quality of our existence. Don’t hesitate to get support with this. If you’re interested in changing these dynamics, book a complimentary coaching session.
All my best,