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.
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.