It seems to me that a lot of our stress comes from the feeling that we shouldn’t be reacting the way we are.
For example, some people react to their stress with anger. Others react with depression. Or sadness. When this happens we can feel like we should be handling the situation better than we are; that we should be tough or brave or, as they say, “maintain a stiff upper lip.”
When you fight your natural reactions you are actually making things worse by giving yourself more to be stressed about! Does that sound like a good idea? Of course not, but we all do it. You know how hard it is to suppress tears – very stressful!
I say this: don’t fight it. Feel it. Embrace it. Allow yourself to be angry or sad or depressed and get it out of your system.
Here are some things to try: if you are angry, use a pillow as a punching bag or, my personal favorite, get a hammer and pound on some defenseless piece of wood. I’m serious… pound the living daylights out of that wood. It is very liberating!
If you are sad, cry until the tears stop. If you feel self-conscious or embarrassed, then do it somewhere privately but let it out.
Depressed? Wallow in it for a while. It won’t hurt anyone; if it will, then find a better time to wallow.
It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) that, although it’s important to do these things, it is crucial that you do them SAFELY. If your anger makes you want to ram someone off the road with your car, that’s probably not a good idea and I definitely wouldn’t endorse or encourage that kind of behavior! Crying while driving (or “operating heavy machinery”) is also probably not a good idea.
By giving yourself permission to feel what you feel, you will be giving yourself the gift of release and then you will be better prepared to deal with your situation.
This article is one in a series on coping strategies for patients and caregivers alike. For more thoughts on caregiving, coping strategies, reducing stress, and just plain fun subscribe to my free monthly newsletter at www.CaringAndCoping.com Need a speaker for an upcoming event? I have a program that will knock your socks off!