messy wonderful life

My 4 Steps In Dealing With Stress (Your Mileage May Vary)

It’s not easy, but the truth is, when there are things happening to you in life, that are out of your control, or when things hit you from seemingly out of nowhere, it’s SO difficult to keep a positive outlook sometimes.

For the past month, it’s felt like every time I turn around, something comes at me from outer space that just knocks me flat on my duff. An unexpected car repair that I hadn’t budgeted for. An issue with my health insurance that was going to cost me ten times per month or more to cover. Stressing about things to the point where my ‘day job’ work suffered, and I let down my manager and coworkers.

Now, I know that these are “normal” things that happen to everyone, but I really don’t know if everyone deals with things the same. Some people find it so easy to just say, “Oh, well!” and move past it, knowing they’ll figure it out. Other people may find themselves in the throes of sofa-junk food-Netflix-sleep cycles of depression for months.

For those of us with a creative nature, it can either get our juices flowing and shove us into creation mode in the same nonstop way a junkie seeks their next high. Other creatives may find themselves behind an immediate 400-foot iron wall.

I used to be the sofa-sleeping, creatively blocked person any time something happened that threw me for a loop.

It was far more frequent the case before I became a mom, but that was totally me. (And I’m sure, someone reading this.)

Honestly though – what gets me by these days happens in essentially the same order, every time. And once I began to recognize the pattern, it became easier to forge through and get to the good stuff at the end.


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  1. Shock, rage, panic. The ‘thing’ happens, and I snowball from 0-60 in no time, and get all the worst case scenarios out there into the air. I breathe life into them just by blathering on about it to someone – a friend, family member, even my boss.

  2. Some of them are able to talk me down. The one thing that’s true – I always figure it out. And while I always need reminding of that, sometimes I need help. Sometimes I have to figure out what I need and then ask for it. Most of the time, that last bit is the trickiest. And having people I trust is a huge factor that not everyone has.

    Some of them just listen and say something like, “Let’s see what happens,” and that’s it. They don’t want to offer ideas because at that point, my panic-mode just shoots everything down anyway. Sometimes this feels like they’re abandoning me and don’t ‘care’ – but it’s the opposite. It’s important to know how the people in your life deal with stress, so you can see how their responses to yours is the way it is.

  3. I form a plan. Breathe. Trust myself and others that I will get through this. And survive.

  4. This is the most important step… I LET GO AND SEEK JOY. Let me elaborate…

This past weekend, and the weekend before, I completely disconnected. I literally stayed off the phone, off of work, and off social media (unless it was to post about some art or something), and focused on seeking joy – with my daughter. We experimented with new art supplies. I took her for a bike ride and we got some fresh air, marveling at the coming of spring. We baked cookies. We set timers for ourselves and cleaned parts of the house in under 20 minutes at a clip – and then laughed at how crazy we looked, running all over the place, yelling to each other from room to room, and getting things done. And then all in one day, we went to see Dumbo, grabbed some yummies from our fave local bakery, and popped into an Asian market to grab a bunch of snacks and new foods to try.

I didn’t stress about the unplanned expenses. I didn’t worry about how, or if, I was going to come up with the money for the things I needed. I didn’t let myself dwell in all the upset that I usually spiral down into.

I sought joy.

I looked for the first backyard bunny of spring – and saw it.

I went outside at night, and looked up to the skies – mystified by how many stars I could see.

I tasted chocolate, slowly, so I could realllllly enjoy it.

I gave my undivided attention to my amazing, hilarious, wonderful daughter.

And I was able to come back and face this week head-on. I was able to get things done today. I am confident knowing that I can get through anything if I allow myself to process the way I have been (though it wouldn’t hurt to try to skip that step 1… lol)

How do you do it? What do you struggle with when it comes to dealing with life’s whammies?