American society places multi-tasking, competition, and doing the most on a pedestal. Every day, social norms subconsciously – or quite consciously in many cases – pile a million mile-high expectations onto your shoulders with little room to breathe.
During the 2021 Summer Olympics, gold medal Olympian Simone Biles faced heat for stepping down from the competition to heal mentally. A few days later, she came back to the competition and won a bronze medal her first time back on the floor. She had to take a moment to renew her mind and breathe. She ignored the social norms of the outside world to do what she had to do. She knew what her current mental state could rob her of today, and years ahead.
What Is Stress Taking From You?
Your parents asked you at least once in your life “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”
I said this to my child recently and it backfired. She responded, “I’m a leader, I’d jump first.” Great…
Neglecting mental wellness is a journey, and ignoring the rocks ahead and narrowing road will eventually push you off the cliff. It is easy to get distracted by fitting in with everyone else, trying to make your lifestyle as normal and lucrative as possible – raising smart kids, having a thriving, happy, romantic marriage, making enough money for needs and wants, reaching every personal and career goal, appearing fun, social, educated, etc.
You want to make decisions few people will question. However, when it comes to your wellbeing, you are the only person who is guaranteed to have to live with you for the rest of your life. Simon Biles knew that long after the Olympics were over, she would still have to live with herself. She dared to make a choice that would face mass scrutiny because their opinions wouldn’t matter to anyone, including herself years from now. Accounting for the long-term effects of daily actions makes for a richer life – for generations.
I realized my child was right, being a leader was a good thing. Racing to the edge of the cliff of your mental state is lethal. Bad stress is lethal, but choosing to be a leader and pave your own path is vital, even if to others it looks like you’re jumping into the deep end.
When you focus on yourself first, you experience
● Smartly Budgeted Time
● Smarter Decisions
● Fewer Outbursts
● Fewer Self Destructive Behaviors
What Does Your Stress Look Like?
Fish are highly intelligent beings. They are acutely aware of their surroundings at all times; that is how they survive for as long as they do. Despite their hypersensitivity and intense awareness, they do not know they’re underwater. They have been there their whole lives and are not aware of another way of life.
Humans can deal with the same issue. Often the root cause of stress is how our brains are wired to react to situations. If you panic buy food or choose to starve, try to hoard money, or blow every penny the moment you get it, you might have it wired into your brain that basic needs will run out because you experienced stressful scarcity as a child. Even if all of your needs were met, you still might have heard “we can’t afford that” or taken your parents’ stress personally. Subconsciously, you carry that weight to this day, even if you’re making enough or more than enough to cover all of your needs.
Reacting to stress can look like this:
● Over/Under Sleeping
● Food Cravings
● Increased Heart Rate/Blood Pressure
● Brain Fog
● Increased Use of Alcohol or Medications (Stimulants and Sedatives)
● Stomach Pains
● Sudden Outbursts
● Lack of Communication/Isolation
● Staying Busy With Meaningless Tasks
● Panic Buying
● Self Destructive Habits/Cycles
● Zoning Out
● Living In An Alternate Universe In Your Head (Trips Might Get More Often)
There are telltale signs of stress in nearly every form from how you feel or react, to the choices you make.
Tips To Relieve Stress
Speaking from experience, considering ways to identify and reduce overwhelm can be overwhelming itself, but it is so worth it. A friend of mine recently changed jobs because of a toxic work environment and crazy hours. She has been blown away by how much her previous job affected her without her knowing. She sleeps through the night with ease, eats full meals on a consistent basis, wakes up with ease for the first time in her life, and she is a genuinely happier person. She recently told me that even her kids notice the difference and enjoy casually talking to her now because they don’t feel like she’ll lash out at them. Prioritizing your mental wellness makes you the best version of yourself. Your goals will fall in line.
To reduce overwhelm you should do 3 things:
1. Identify stressors and their underlying cause. If money weighs heavily on your mind regularly, why? Do you truly not make enough to cover your needs? Have you assessed the difference between your honest needs and wants? Do you need your Amazon Prime and Apple Music subscriptions or are they convenient? Are you buying the foods you need and that will fit your budget, or are you buying some of those selections emotionally? What desires are pushing you towards making these purchases?
2. Begin dispelling your fears by affirming their opposites. If you fear you will be judged for taking care of yourself, tell yourself “The right people will support me. My wellbeing is important to me.” or if money – the most popular stressor – is what keeps you up at night, tell yourself “I attract wealth in all things – wisdom, finances, and overall health.” Telling yourself these things on a daily basis, especially in the morning before you leave your bed helps rewire your brain to expect what you want to see in your life. This is not about wishing a cheesecake into existence, although it could happen. This is about speaking to your root problems; calling them out and enforcing your ownership of your life, relinquishing their power over you.
3. Last, you need to put in the work. If you analyze your budget and realize that living at the bare minimum still isn’t enough, you should look for ways to grow your budget. Speaking to an experienced financial advisor – or a few – can be incredibly helpful and give you some light at the end of the tunnel. Most are free to speak to and some are free or low-cost to work with on a consistent basis. There are limitless options and information to help you make a plan, achieve your goals, and reduce unnecessary stress.
In moments when you find it hard to breathe, when your body is tense, or you just want to shut down, try this exercise:
1. Name 5 things you can see. Describe them to yourself in detail.
2. Identify 5 things you can touch in your immediate surroundings. Observe how they make you feel.
3. Listen for 5 things you can hear. Observe their source. If you have younger children and it’s too quiet, my prayers are with you, but finish this exercise. You might really need it in a minute.
If you need to talk it out some more, let’s chat!
Bringing the family back to the table,
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