Friday, August 8, 2008

How do you react to stress? has 14 different definitions of stress. Some of them have to do with putting an emphasis on something - a syllable, good manners, etc. Some of them have to do with mechanics - stresses and strains on levers, balanced forces, etc. (having flashbacks to Engineering Mechanics and they are not good/happy flashbacks). And then the definitions that apply today:
"++ Physiology. a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.
++ physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension: Worry over his job and his wife's health put him under a great stress.
++ a situation, occurrence, or factor causing this: The stress of being trapped in the elevator gave him a pounding headache."

The last few weeks have been quite stressful for my family. We've got some major life changes that we've been discussing, agonizing, and praying over. We've finally come to some conclusions that I'll share at a later date. However, I've been reminded of how I respond to significant stress - I retreat.

By retreat, I mean that I kind of shut myself into a little cocoon. I lose the desire to 'mingle' with others - chatting, going out, even going to the library sounds too difficult, like too much work. And the things that bring me joy normally - my kids, photography, reading, and now blogging - also sound like too much work. I run on what feels like an 'empty tank' - am tired, crabby, and wanting to shut down. Sounds a little like depression and that's probably as good of a definition as any.

But it's not depression in it's true sense - I have had that in the past and this isn't quite there. And I find it interesting that I do this without even really noticing until I begin to come 'out of it'. And then I realize, darn it, I did it again. All the people and things that I love, I've shut out. Or at least limited their exposure to me and my heart...what I am really thinking about.

And that's just, I want to say dumb, because those are the same people and things that can help me work through whatever is stressful. Not by solving it or even necessarily discussing it, but just by refilling my tank. 'Sharpening the saw' as they said all those years ago in 7 Habits. (Who's old enough to remember when that was the all the buzz?)

So, I am hoping to refill my tank this weekend. I have lots to do but am also hoping to do it with the people I love. And at the same time showing them that I love them by talking, laughing and being positively productive. My goal is to have this clear out my defenses a bit, work through the stresses our life changes are causing, and start to enjoy the parts that are great.

So, how do you handle stress? Is it similar? Or am I just the nutcase that I think I am? LOL


lisamm said...

Well, you may be a nutcase, LOL, but I am eerily similar in the way I handle stress. I isolate myself, don't answer messages or emails from friends, avoid places and people, stay in rather than go out, and just stick with my kids and husband. I have to force myself out of this behavior because I know that when I do see people, I almost always feel better. I'm glad you'll be spending time with loved ones this weekend. It's a good way to recharge the batteries.

Ruth said...

I could have written this post. Seriously. I shut down creatively, don't want to be around people, won't do things that I'm normally ecstatic about's a horrible feeling. And sometimes it happens and I wasn't even aware that I was getting stressed out. It's like my body says, "Okay, no more. Go recharge."

Lisa Clarke said...

I think I have very similar defense mechanisms. I posted recently about a day where all I did was sit on the couch and do computer things - none of them important - when really it would have done me a world of good to get out of the house, or play a game with the kids, or do something creative. And those are all things I think I would have liked to do, I just couldn't make myself get up off the couch. It's not a place I like to be, at all, but it seems to be where I end up anytime I'm feeling overwhelmed by all that I have to do, or decisions that I have to make.

I hope you are finding your way back to feeling good!

sheistoofondofbooks said...

I avoid confrontation at all costs, so a lot gets swallowed, which isn't healthy!

Glad to hear that you're able to talk with your family about whatever's going on. Keep talking to people, and do something good for yourself.

Be well.