Stress and Survival Mode

If you've lived a good portion of your life in survival mode, you might not be sure what exactly stress and de-stressing look like. You might not even be sure what the words functionally mean. You tell people everything you've been doing for the past x amount of time and they ask you "how do you do all of that?" And it's the weirdest question that you don't quite understand: you simply do it. You don't think about it. You don't waste time wondering "how," you just make it happen.

But you've noticed your body doesn't quite keep up.

Aches, pains, and fatigue. Your bodily systems running out of whack. Sleep is all over the place if you can even find it. You power through but you wish your body was strong enough to handle everything you need to do.

You are stressed out, friend, and you're not sure what you're supposed to do.

People ask you what you do to de-stress and you say "I don't even know what that looks like." I've absolutely been there and it took until only recently that I could define for myself, in a way that made sense, what "stress" means. This was an important step in learning how to "de-stress." After powering through what was necessary for the longest time, I wasn't sure what was or wasn't stressful. I knew that certain things, like money and jobs and relationships, are generally thought of as potentially stressful, but I didn't know what that was supposed to feel like. How would I know if I was feeling a little bit of stress or if I was just fine? I needed to learn to notice the little bits of stress so I could take care of it before it all stacked too high and toppled over on me.

Stress is a sense or feeling of pressured concern about something.

Period. That's it. That's the basic, smallest piece of it. If you feel some pressured concern about a topic, you are feeling stressed about it. Once you learn to recognize those first moments, you can get better at handling it sooner.

De-stressing means reducing either the pressure, the concern, or both.

This could mean distracting yourself for a period of time, though you can see how that might make the pressure and concern greater in the long run. This might mean changing how you view the issue and finding ways to let it go if there is no direct action for you to take. This might also mean facing a task directly instead of procrastinating. Sometimes the best way to lessen the pressure of doing something is simply to do it.

And sometimes you need extra social support.

Everything you do affects both the way your mind and your body works. It's really all one connected system. You might have considered what I said before, that you wish your body was stronger so you could do all the things you needed to do... but have you considered that everything on your plate could be more than what's reasonable for anyone take on? Perhaps your body's limitations are a boundary to be respected rather than another factor to feel frustrated about.

Whether you are still in a survival mode situation or you are on the other side, hearing and taking care of your own needs is so important. If this is something you'd like me to help you with, we can schedule some time to talk.

You're awesome. When did we stop calling our friends rockstars? You're a rockstar.

Stephanie Bloodworth, LMFT-A