Don’t talk to me, I’m stressed

Surviving Coping with stress

Since I was 7 years old, I had a hard time getting ready in the mornings. I was anxious about leaving the comfort of my home and facing the early demands of my teachers and family.

My appetite would turn into nausea, I would rub my hands together, and my fingertips would get cold. I was overwhelmed by not turning in good papers or not taking my notes correctly. Sometimes, as soon as class started, my stomach ached so much that they would have to phone home from the school office to calm me down.

Although I learned to hide it over the years (and not phone home), my entire student life was much the same. My professional life was no exception. Stress has always been a part of my life, and at some point, I considered it part of my personality.

To me, eliminating stress has always seemed as absurd as if someone were asked to stop being tall.

Stressing myself out for stressing myself out. 

You’ll go bald. You’ll get heart disease. You’ll die. If you research on the internet or ask any health professional, they will give you similar facts about stress (some sources may be more dramatic than others). Many contents back this up: studies, statistics, and even TED talks. It’s not only overwhelming; it’s ironically stressful.

If you, like me, have a lifetime subscription to stress, you’ll know that no matter how much people tell you that “you’re killing yourself,” not stressing out is impossible.

In this blog, we’re not repeating to you the reasons why you shouldn’t stress. There is already a lot of information about it. And that’s what makes us wonder: Why do we keep stressing out despite all of this knowledge?

Produce, produce, produce

More repetitive and predictable than Nicolas Cage’s movie career, capitalism is, once again, the protagonist. In a meritocratic system, dying of stress does not seem as terrible as being unproductive and unsuccessful.

We have a rooted view that only productivity will bring us well-being, and ironically this pursuit gets us into a loop of stress → underperformance → low productivity → stress → repeat. 

In addition to the well-known effects of social media on our mental health, we are constantly exposed to mediatic representatives of productivity. Influencers by day and entrepreneurs by night (or vice versa). Busy and beautiful people with new projects, world tours, and brands. Always up and down and glorifying tireless infinite productivity.

The Rat Race is implanted in our heads from different fronts. Stress is a symptom of a life that we are supposed to live.

Why, why, why, why, why?

After coming home from school, doing my homework was complicated by the hieroglyphics I had for notes. And in a family where academic excellence was the law, the solution was to tear up some sheets and transcribe them again.

Growing up with an intelligent older brother: with good grades and notes put a demand on me from a very young age that has perpetuated to this day. My stress responds to the constant “threat” of not being good enough.

A threat that is now present in my hobbies and personal projects. We have also been taught to be productive in our free time and monetize our passions.

A powerful question against all that stress is “Why?”. And why ask yourself once if you can do that 5 times in a row:

-I’m stressed. -Why?

-Because I have not had time to resume my personal project. -Why?

-Because I have to do what I am passionate about. -Why?

The intention is not to trigger a new existential crisis. But getting to the core of our demands shows how absurd they can be. 

Nor does it mean that you should stop reading this blog ;), tell everyone in the office to go to hell and run away. There are responsibilities we must fulfill to, you know… make money and survive in this system. But there must be some expectations on you, ready to be questioned.

The solution(s)

After many mental health articles diagnose us with future severe stress-related illnesses, we are advised the usual. Repeat after me: exercise, healthy eating, meditation, good sleep, etc…

It took my therapist’s whole patience, procrastinating for months, and stressing over that same procrastination to start practicing new habits. How am I supposed to give up my work and personal projects to just sit, breathe and meditate!

It’s essential to give yourself time for this. If you don’t, no one else will.

There’s a reason why everyone (including me) recommends these practices, but let’s remember that:

  • It’s crucial to reflect on what stresses us out:
    Exercising, eating healthy, and practicing these habits is the medicine we impulsively take against stress, but we don’t look to prevent it. Identifying and questioning what we see as threats is the beginning of a substantial change. Therapy with a mental health professional can also facilitate this process of reflection 😉

     

  • Being more honest helps:
    -How are you?
    Not very well, I’m stressed.
    Sharing our situation can become a workload reduction or a better balance in our professional life. It shows us more real to others and puts us on a more human and vulnerable plane; we break that impeccable pedestal of unattainable productivity.

     

  • Try to do one meaningful thing in your day:
    Multitasking is just a formula for disaster. Mountains of tasks are conquered gradually. Checking one less big to-do off your list is satisfying at the end of the day.

     

  • Stress is inevitable:
    In fact, it exists for a reason, and that is to prepare us to cope with particular “survival” or escape situations. Ironically, “fighting” generates… more stress, and it shouldn’t. There are situations in which we can step out and choose if we give them the power to control us. Kind of like “making peace” and picking your battles.

Stress will never go away either, but knowing that it’s not part of my personality was a big step toward stopping and analyzing it. So I was able to identify some of the demands that originated it. And you, what is the source of your stress?

Edited by Santiago da Silva Évora

Rich

Rich

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Content & typos creator. Rich runs Fuckup Nights blog, newsletter & social media. He probably posted this blog by himself, and thinks it’s awkward to write his own bio. Fuckuppin’s mom.

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