Too much stress 'tis the season


There are a lot of warning signs that a person might be experiencing too much stress. I keep seeing a lot of these in my own life, but it is usually in retrospect. Even if I notice right away the way I am acting, it is often too late.

I have been getting angry about little things, and big things, and everything. When my son throws all of his toys, or won’t listen when I ask him to do something I just want to scream. Sometimes I do scream and then I get even more upset. As soon as the words start coming out of my mouth I try to stop them. Usually I can, but when I am under this much pressure it is really difficult.

I feel overwhelmed all the time. I will never be able to do the dishes again because I don’t have time. I can’t take my kids out without feeling guilty about not doing work. My laundry is piled up, there are crumbs on the floor, and there are papers and books and toys all over the place.

My messy house

At any moment I might just run away. Drop whatever I am doing, jump in my car and take off across the country. Well, not really, but I am tempted.

It’s the fight or flight response they talk about. You never know how you will react. The truth is, I am pretty good in an emergency. I am the type of person who keeps their cool and thinks in steps. I am a fixer, a mother, and someone who has seen a lot of bad things happen.

I work well at the last minute. It’s not the way I want to do things, but it is usually what happens. I create a time slot and force myself to finish my project right then. I have to work this way because I have so many responsibilities. I block out the world and push on. This adds a lot of stress and makes me feel inadequate like the work I do will never be good enough.

I get sad and withdraw sometimes. I get this empty hollow inside me and slip into this place that it so familiar it is almost comfortable. It entices me. Wouldn’t it be great to feel nothing right now? To clear my mind, blur my thoughts and just not think?

This is a big warning for me. When I can’t face things, when I can’t work or talk, answer my phone or even open my mail, I know I have to do something differently. I know that letter is going to be bad news and I don’t want to read it. I don’t want to talk about my family and separation problems. I don’t want to cry about my life and all the people and things I have lost.

I just want to shut down.

Being back in school is no joke. When you are nearly through a semester the pressure is unbelievable. All your projects are due and you don’t know how you have idea how to get them finished. You thought you had more time to do them, and be better. You want to be the best. You want to get the recommendations. You want to get the job.

Last week I saw a girl run from her classroom and down the hall, actually gasping for breath as sobs racked her body. She went too fast for me to catch her or even say anything, but really, what would I have said? I understand? I feel that way too? It’s going to be ok?

We are all feeling the stress and it is almost unbearable. We just have to do our best to get by. Sometimes you will have to take a break, even for just a minute, and refocus your energy. Do something that makes you happy. Find pleasure in the little things.

Play your favorite song really loud and dance like no one is watching you. Go out for a coffee or an ice cream, or buy a big bag of candy. Hug your kids and read them a story. Call your mom.

Do something to distract yourself. Meditate, or do something athletic. Medical studies show that the best way to deal with stress is to play sports or exercise. Even just go for a walk. Turn your phone off, don’t take selfies or answer your text messages. Don’t think about the thousands of emails you have to check, or all the projects you need to finish. Just throw yourself into activity and breathe.

A peaceful place at the Doon campus, Conestoga College.
Created By
Joy Struthers

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