Stress is my middle name

Becoming an adult comes with great responsibility – besides the general pay your bills, clean your apartment stuff tending to your mental and physical health is an important responsibility that is often forgotten. It’s easy to push stress and physical pain aside and not handle them until they become a real problem. I’m diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (as well as bipolar disorder) so stress is something near and (not) dear to me. I often ruminate about things that happen at work, school, or some random irrational fear that pops up in my head (funny story about that, one time for a week I had a fear that my dog would get rabies from the squirrel she chases (damn squirrel always steals the seeds from the bird feeder) so I’d watch her carefully on the deck to make sure that squirrel didn’t touch her). I’d turn to food or isolation to help ease the anxiety however as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that those methods aren’t the most helpful.

A therapist I use to see gave me one of the most helpful suggestion for dealing with irrational fears/anxieties. He suggested I create a chart – one column describing the fear, one column describing all the reasons I have to believe the fear is true, one column describing all the reasons I have to believe the fear is false, and alternate theories to why a situation is the way it is. This suggestion really has helped me through some of my more personal, difficult fears as well as some of my more generic fears (I.e. Will I fail in life? type fears). What makes it so useful is getting the feelings out on paper rather than keeping them inside my head.

As childish as they may seem, adult coloring books are also a strategy that helps tame my anxiety. When I’m most anxious just spending 20 minutes coloring a picture helps distract me from the thoughts swirling in my head. Some of the anxiety is still there but the majority has passed by the time I’m done coloring that picture. Another childish one but video games help for me as well. I’ve been playing the game Ocarina of Time for the past month and I forget about most of the stressors of my day while playing. Both of these strategies (for me) help me disconnect from my busy head and focus on something else other than my anxieties for some time.

Learning how to handle stress and anxiety is a big part of that transition from childhood to adulthood. For myself, I feel that I’m still on that learning process of figuring out other strategies to handle the stress and also learning how to not stress about certain things (not sweating the small stuff so to speak). When I’ve talked about my stress to my fiancé (who is about 5 1/2 years older than me) he’s described that dealing with the stressors of adulthood gets easier with time. Things that seemed like a huge deal to him at 23 now don’t seem so huge at 29. I definitely agree with him in that respect but also acknowledge that finding those coping strategies helps make dealing with the stress easier. As with most things, it’s a learning process.

What coping strategies do you guys use to deal with the stressors of adulthood? Hope your week goes well!

Steph xoxo

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