stress is contagious! fight it!

7 Dec

Yesterday, as I was leaving the office, there was the general hub-bub.  In addition, I felt some angsty vibes.  I am pretty sensitive to anxiety/stress-related feelings so as I was walking out, I had to do a double take as the panic was welling up inside me.  “Am I stressed?  Or am I reacting to the stress of others?”

Of course, there are things/issues occupying my mind but I realized I didn’t have anything to be seriously anxious about.  I walked to the elevator reminding myself that I was picking up on the stress of others and I needed to let it go.  I.was.not.stressed.

Does this ever happen to you?  I don’t think I am in the minority here.  I’m not sure how and why stress is so contagious but it seems to feed on our insecurities and our desire to want to be part of the group.  I also think our society equates stress with importance.  If you are important then clearly you are going to have higher levels of anxiety because you have a higher clearance level within your world.  I guess?

I’ve thought a lot about balance over the years.  Since I already operate on a higher anxiety level, I’ve realized I need to be attentive to why and how I am reacting to stressors in life.  I always knew physical exercise could be an outlet but I didn’t think it would help ME.  Because, you know, I am so vastly different from the rest of the world!

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Then I started running.  HELLO endorphins!  Wow.  I soon found that running did help to mitigate those anxious feelings.  I slept better, felt better, thought better – I was shocked.  Even now 5 or 6 years later, I am still surprised by how damn good I can feel after sweating my buns off on a run.  Unfortunately, running can’t solve all of my problems (nor can I just drop everything and go for a run *sigh*) and I’ve realized I have to make a conscious choice regarding stress.

Nevertheless, sometimes stress seems to lay it on thick and I’ll feel all wild-eyed, crazy in the wilderness.  Sometimes, it starts to creep up on me and I can feel my heart starting to beat faster.  Other times it’s a sucker punch to the face.  With all of these, the first thing I do is sit up straight and take a few deep breaths.  Then I evaluate: where is this coming from?  Is it really about me?  Am I simply responding to someone else’s stress?  When I figure those out, I start trying to talk myself down to a somewhat normal state.  Then I figure out a time to go for a run.

umm...yes, this is sometimes how I feel on the inside when I'm freaking out!

umm…yes, this is sometimes how I feel on the inside when I’m freaking out!

And yes, I talk to myself a lot!

Seriously, this has helped.  While some stress is healthy, too much can have major effects on your health – mental and physical!  So whether you are prone to anxiety or not, having a plan of combating the “too much stress” zone is important.  Is this a foul-proof plan?  Nope… I still resort to chocolate at times or taking a nap when I don’t want to/can’t deal with the stress around me.  Hibernating works too.  But at least I know I have options in my personal life tool box.

I’m also proud of myself for getting to this point.  There are still times when I am a basket case but I’ve made improvements!  It hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t been without some heavy conversations with myself.  I also had to let go of some of the shame that comes with admitting that anxiety IS indeed, part of my life and make up as a person.  I’m sure everyone else already knew but I kept trying to shove this aspect of myself under the bed as it seemed so weak and unattractive.  But it’s who I am and fighting a part of who you are is exhausting.  So now, I am working to understand this part of me and come to terms with it.

Maybe something in this post rang true for you!  At the very least, during the sometimes chaos that is the holiday season remember to stop and breathe and not take on the stress of others as your own!  Oh and do something sweaty – that totally helps!

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6 Responses to “stress is contagious! fight it!”

  1. Ali Pavlicek December 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    This is the first of your blog posts I’ve read–but I love the insight! I’ll do my best to keep tabs of future posts! :)

  2. Tasha @ Healthy Diva December 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    I have been so stressed out at work that I feel like crying everyday that I leave right now. I haven’t eaten lunch in almost a full work week. Actually I have lost my appetite in general. Usually I am stress eater, but that doesn’t appear so now. Thankfully it is Friday. After crossfit tonight I am going to have a glass of cabernet and chill out in front of the fireplace. I hope that you have a good night.

  3. kmhoho December 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    So true!! Stress is totally contagious, especially in a live-in work environment. Good for you to come up with ways to combat it!! :)

  4. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast December 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Yes!! Sweating makes such a difference…. I definitely reach for chocolate or hibernate, but a good run is by far the best pick-me-up.

  5. lovinghomemade December 9, 2012 at 4:38 am #

    Great post, thank you. Have been putting off going for a run (so many blogs to read!) but you have reminded me why I need to make the effort!

    • amysrecipefordisaster December 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      thanks! it’s a good reminder for me too – sometimes the chocolate and hibernating are too tempting!

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