Today is National Stress Awareness Day. It’s weighing heavy on my heart to write and share today. I hope these words encourage you to seek joy and find ways to eliminate stress in your life. While I’m not the best example for living stress-free, I’ve been learning a lot lately and I wanted to share.
I shared a few weeks ago that I wanted to start writing about happiness. Why happiness? Because the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn in adulthood so far is that between work, health, other responsibilities, and managing relationships with family and friends, it’s easy to let stress overcome our ability to tap into happiness. Happiness is a moving target, and we’re lucky to hit it when we can.
And it’s so easy to lose perspective: You have more to do than you’ll ever get done. It feels like everyone else has it more figured out, in some way. Social media never lets us forget that there’s always something else that we could be doing — and our anxious minds convince us that that something else is probably better than what we’re doing.
Meanwhile, we don’t have the capacity to even explore that other, “better” life. We’re too caught up in managing our lives and the expectations of everyone around us. We never stop running, but we never seem to reach our destination, either.
stop glorifying stress
Somewhere along the way, we decided to make stress yet another way we could compete with each other:
“I’m soooo exhausted.”
“I slept like 3 hours last night.”
“Last night, I ate gummy worms for dinner and passed out on the couch.”
“This is my 4th coffee this morning.”
“I haven’t showered like in 4 days.”
For some people, sleepless nights are inevitable because of our life situations: young children, extra jobs, etc. If that’s you, please take moments of rest and relaxation as you can get them. Try to find ways to delegate, outsource, or otherwise take things off your plate so you can just be for a little while. You can’t be there for anyone if you’re aren’t there for yourself.
on keeping up
Managing stress seems to be the key to being able to create our own happiness. And yet, if we continue to glorify it, we perpetuate a culture in which self-care is somehow seen as… unhealthy. Like there’s something wrong with us if we want to take care of ourselves. Like we’re not “keeping up” enough if we decide to take time to do yoga, sit in the bathtub, talk to a therapist, go for a walk, or take a personal day from work (or whatever your form of self-care looks like).
I’m glad this message resonated with some people on Instagram tonight:
“Apparently today is #nationalstressawarenessday. Most reactions I’ve seen to this day have been sarcastic (“I’m already aware of my stress, lol”) – which is just reflective of the fact that we live in a world that believes stress, exhaustion, and chaos are inevitable. I bought into that idea for so long, that I masked my own ability to see just how much I was actually struggling.
In many ways, the month of August, which I spent mostly in bed with migraines, was an incredible blessing, an aggressive shove toward a better life. That month taught me the importance of self-care, being an advocate for wellness, and seeking alignment with my own needs, rather than approval from others. I was reminded of the importance of communicating my pain to others, talking honestly with people who cared, and ending my reliance on toxic people.
I’m still learning to decipher anxious thoughts from reality, I’m still trying to get better about sleeping regularly, I’m still working on limiting my caffeine intake, feeling comfortable taking breaks at work when I feel anxious, and saying no to things I feel I “should” say yes to. Everyone is facing their own battle, even those of us who always seem to be smiling. It’s so much easier to be a light for others when you take care of yourself enough to let your own light shine. Stress is not inevitable. Take care of yourselves out there, people. Also, GO CUBS. ❤️💪🏽⚾️“
I thought my migraines were completely inevitable. I thought my excessive caffeine consumption was just a part of who I was, a necessary evil to be able to push myself past my limits on a daily basis. I thought staying up until 1am compulsively cleaning, or working, or writing for my blog was just part of my hustle, a word I used to glorify my sleepless, anxious, stressed out state of being. I thought that the voice inside my head, telling me that I wasn’t enough was justifiable. If I just did more, it’d go away.
It’s taken a lot of effort, but I’m finally starting to do what’s right for me, instead of what I think is expected of me. I feel so much more in control (funny, isn’t it?).
I’m writing this in case, perhaps, you feel like you need permission to take care of yourself. I can’t tell you what taking care of you looks like. But I hope you start trying — life’s too short to let the little things become the big things.
Take care out there,