To stress or not to stress…

This post is a follow up from Coping with stress

Photo credit:  purplemattfish

Since stress is a given in life and no one is immune to it,   we better learn to deal with it in a way that builds us up instead of tears us down.

First we need to identify where our stress is coming from.   There are two main factors:
External factors: work;  relationships;  family;  moving house;   getting married;  getting a baby.
Internal factors: nutrition;  emotional well-being;  sleep & rest;   overall health and fitness.

Some questions
We have to ask ourselves some questions where we look at our habits and attitude to life.   For instance:
How are our sleeping and eating habits working for us?
How do we approach life’s events?
Who in our opinion is responsible for dealing with the stress in our life?

Enter Bipolar Disorder
In this respect,   we as bipolars are already dealing with a lot of internal and external stress by default.  Our emotional well-being is not a given,   instead it is the biggest challenge in our lives to achieve.

As far as sleep habits go,  I know for myself that it changes as much as the direction of the wind,  as do my eating habits.   My overall health usually leaves something to be desired and my exercise is mostly lacking.

We,  as well as those around us,  are often dealing with challenges concerning relationships,  including family relationships,  because of our bipolar.   Having a job and keeping it can be a challenge in itself.   We don’t do too well with change.  Even the stupid changes of day-light-savings-time can be a disturbing factor!

What can we (as in:  all of us)  do?

Furthermore, it is important to locate the stressors and to know what we can or can’t do. Where possible, we change the situation by either avoiding or altering the stressor. If we can’t change the situation, we need to change our response by adapting or accepting the stressor.  (Quote)

Avoid the stressor
For instance,  if I am not doing well with big gatherings,  I need to make a choice in attending a family gathering,  party or other social function.   Is it absolutely necessary that I attend or is it acceptable if I don’t?

Recently,   I made the choice not to join the youth to an event where 30.000 youth will be gathered.  As a youth leader,  it is beneficial for me to be there and experience it with the youth together.  Yet,   I don’t handle big crowds very well,  let alone thát big of a crowd!

Thankfully,  there are enough other youth leaders and/or parents who will go,  so I get to stay home.  Thus I am able to avoid the stressor.

Alter a stressor
On another occasion,   our church had organized a long weekend away to spend some quality time together as a church.  I really wanted to go,   but had a lot of stressors to deal with at the time.   This meant I needed a place to be by myself,  have time to rest,  be away from the crowd.

After explaining my situation,  it then was solved by the organizers and I was to share an apartment with a small family, together with a good friend of mine.  Normally those apartments are solely for families.   The normal situation being altered,  made it possible for me to join the get-away.   And as it turned out,  I did use the apartment when I needed it.

Adapt to a stressor
For this year’s church get-away I have considered to adapt and camp instead of being housed.  This would have worked well,   since I would have my own tent.  Together with my earplugs  (a lot of the families like to camp)   it would have had my own little place.

Unfortunately,   there are other circumstances that prevent me from going this year.  We are only going from Friday night till Sunday lunch time. That is a very short time to make so many changes,   especially as I have just started a voluntary job and have to be back at work on Monday at 10 o’clock.

Accept the stressor
When my father passed away last Summer,   I had to learn to accept that nothing was going to change between us anymore.  Up till that point,   I still had hope that some day,   something might change in our relationship (which was unfortunately very dysfunctional and necessarily distant in time and place).  With his passing,  I knew that was not going to happen ever.

Even though it robbed me of my hope,  at the same time it set me free.   I didn’t have to try anymore,  I could let go and simply be.   No more (false) responsibilities to carry about our relationship.   On this side of life it is all over.  I am still doing my grieving, but accepting?  It turned out that it wasn’t so hard.  Surprisingly to me.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,  courage to change the things I can,  and wisdom to know the difference.

Serenity Prayer

Good read:

Stress management ~ How to reduce,  prevent,  and cope with stress.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “To stress or not to stress…

  1. edshunnybunny

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I enjoy making new friends. I enjoyed reading this post, as well as your MMOM post. Have a great day.

  2. Hi there,

    This is a great post! We all face stress in our lives every day to some degree, but those of us with mental illnesses face an even more problematic kind in that any stress can worsen the symptoms of our illnesses. I think we all do need to learn to adapt as you mentioned.

    I also love the Serenity Prayer. For a while I was going to Alanon meetings for people who have family members who are alcoholics, since I have several alcoholic family members (pretty much most of my immediate family are alcoholics) so, I got some of the literature, and I have always loved the Serenity Prayer and the “Live for Today” poem. I posted that on my blog once.

    You visited my blog and left a comment which I appreciated! Please come back again sometime. I noticed you on the Monday Madness blog hop.
    http://www.suicidalnomore.com

    • Hi Jen!

      Thanks for commenting.
      Yeah ~ we need to learn to deal with the stress in our lives, cuz one thing we know: it’s not gonna disappear! And if we don’t handle it, it will handle us, aggravating our illnes or other problems.

      Sometimes I feel that I am ahead of those without a (mental) illness, as I have to deal with stuff, whcih makes me a stronger person and more understanding. I don’t like the process, but do like the result. As I have to deal with stress, might as well make the most out of it :)

      Sorry you had/ve to deal with so much alcoholism in your immediate family… that is quite a challenge! Hope youa re keeping yourself safe!

      Nice to meet you!

    • Visited your blog again, wanted to leave a reply, but Blogger won’t let me. Hope you read this, as I didn’t find another way to contact you…. :(

  3. Loved your post, I am exactly the same way. Big crowd freak me out so much, I start to get panic attacks. It gets better from time to time, but I dread going out with big crowds. I love being alone so much, all of my friends think I am super weird. I am like a total hermit. Long time ago, I actually use to take medication for bipolar disorder, but it made me even worst, I couldn’t even function. Now I just deal with the ups and downs, sometimes it’s great and other times it’s a nightmare. But I definitely avoid the outside stressors.

    • Welcome back Tatianna :)
      At least you have friends even though they think you’re weird lol
      I recognize it nonetheless as I tend to isolate myself as well at times. I wouldn’t be able to avoid outside stressors indefinitely, though. It took some years, but I am on a good learning curve to know when to take rest and avoid them and recuperate.
      I am just curious: when you were on meds, was that in Russia or in the States? And what were you on?
      I have a love-hate relationship with my meds. Glad they work for me, sad with some of the side effects. Can’t count how many times I’ve changed sleep meds. But hey, I sleep most of the time, which is awesome in itself!
      Stay well and stay safe :)
      Looking forward to hearing from you again.

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