What is stress? A quick search on Dictionary.com produced this result:
|1.||special emphasis or significance attached to something|
|2.||mental, emotional, or physical strain or tension|
|3.||emphasis placed upon a syllable by pronouncing it moreloudly than those that surround it|
|4.||such emphasis as part of a regular rhythmic beat in music or poetry|
|5.||a syllable so emphasized|
|a. force or a system of forces producing deformation or strain|
|b. the force acting per unit area|
I rather like the definition of 6a, because it’s not just true in the realm of physics, but in our emotional life as well. Some of us experience more stress than others, it seems to follow us around like a low pressure weather system. Basic stress is necessary to keep us motivated and gives us a reason to get up in the mornings. There is a point, however, when it becomes a destructive force against our own bodies and our relationships with others.
I think the worst kind of stress comes from traumatic events that occur beyond our control. Here we are, just going along in life in a relatively normal way, and WHAM, all of a sudden we hit a brick wall, or the rug gets torn out from under us. Our house burns down, we’re faced with a chronic or possibly terminal illness, we are betrayed by someone we love, we lose a job or a partner suddenly, or we or someone we love is struck down by a car and left to die. The element of surprise involved certainly causes a fair amount of shock at first, which can last quite some time. When the initial shock clears, this is where the true stress comes in. Before then, we can be in survival mode, and just do what we have to do to get through the day. But the true stress…the picking up the pieces after a loss…the way we deal with this can either make us stronger or break us completely.
The most important thing to remember in times like these is that everyone needs time and space to grieve the event. There is loss involved, loss of life, companionship, freedom….many things, things which all need to be grieved. Each person does this in their own way, and needs to be allowed to do that, without judgement. We also have to be careful, though, and not let it go so far as to completely cut ourselves off from those who love us and genuinely want to support us in our recovery.
Many will run away out of fear, or not knowing what to say. Some can’t handle what they perceive to be the ‘drama’ in our life, not realizing that by abandoning us only serves to increase our losses and levels of stress. We become moody, distrustful, and forget to take care of ourselves. Those nearest to us ask how they can help, but we find that even when we explain what it is we need, they just don’t understand. So they pull away after a while, unsure how to relate to us anymore. People who may have been helpful in the initial crisis don’t understand that some things are longer term and we still need the support they provided to begin with.
Stress that isn’t dealt with can make us very, very sick. Living on adrenaline for too long can cause heart problems, stomach ulcers, irritable bowels, acid reflux, migraines, weight gain, yeast overgrowth, hormone imbalances, and other physical problems. I know this first hand. I have only just begun on the journey to healing the stress and the ravaging it has done on my body and mind. It takes time and baby steps. Eating well, exercising, drinking lots of water, taking time to do things I enjoy, and realizing where my limitations are and accepting help are all things that are helping me recover.
I can no longer be a hermit and wallow in my own self misery, but I need to venture out and help others, and be blessed by knowing that I can still make a difference in other people’s lives even while I’m still feeling broken. I’ll heal in time, and so will you. Just know neither of us is alone…you have me, and I have you.