Last week I started watching “Modern Love” on Amazon Prime Video and felt more connected to a television series than I have in a very long time (I still love you, Outlander!).
Typically, I’m an avid reader of the New York Times section, but there was something about seeing these stories come to life that made it all the more poignant.
But before I get into it more, let me backtrack for a second.
I started watching the series to give myself a break from what seemed like a week of endless stress, anxiety, and depression. I’ve mentioned many times on this blog that this year has been a rollercoaster, and I’m not shy to admit that I’m human and experience human emotions.
It would be dishonest to say that life is a linear constant of joy. Sometimes I need time to disconnect and reel it in, see it more clearly.
Back to “Modern Love.”
The series has made a significant impact as it explores the basic cisgender, heteronormative concept of relationships and explores love in all its forms. The show has also emphasized mental health awareness and how common mental health disturbances such as anxiety and depression are. My favorite part is how it promotes acceptance in managing these emotions without judgment.
Today is Stress Awareness Day, and it feels more relevant than ever to talk about how stress is a part of our daily lives.
Let’s face the facts, Americans are among the most stressed-out people in the world at the moment, right up there with Greece (and they’re dealing with a massive economic depression!).
According to Gallup’s “2019 Global Emotions Report,” Americans rank among the most stressed-out people in the world—and with good reason.
The report made conclusions based on various factors, such as daily life, income, negative emotions, and positive experiences. Among the stressors for Americans were the current presidential performance and low-income under 50.
It makes sense.
We may not be Neanderthals in the caves out hunting for our next meal, but we are always surrounded by messages, situations, and experiences that trigger stress.
The government, mass shootings, low-income, lack of job security, and ever-rising expenses can drive any human being to their last bit of sanity. Compound social anxiety to perform at your best, follow a particular body type or be the “perfect” person, and you’ve got a wild recipe for disaster.
Taking Time to Be
As I mentioned before, last week was a very stressful one for me. It’s okay. Sometimes situations pile up, unforeseen circumstances get in the way of your plans, and life is just life!
I realized that when I took a step back and became a spectator of those situations, rather than an active participant, dealing with the stress became a step-by-step road to resolution.
When I took the time to work on myself, go to the gym, cry it out, or take a few deep breaths before launching into the next activity, the stress dissolved.
We can sit here and discuss how the world stresses us out, but perhaps we are more in control of the situation than we think.
Using Stress as a Stepping-Stone
Stress doesn’t have to be a negative feeling. Perhaps we’ve been looking at it all wrong.
We can’t necessarily control when stressors come our way, but we can definitely control how we handle our emotions toward the stressful situation.
For example, if my car tire pops on the way to an important meeting, I have two options:
- Huff, puff, and mistreat even the person that is helping me fix my tire. Complain, get myself angry and snap at absolutely everyone I see. Say things such as “Of course this would happen to me! I can’t believe this happened today! Just my luck!” Storm into my meeting disheveled and bomb it. Go home, drown my sorrows in a bottle of wine and complain about it further.
- Be grateful that I’m safe and didn’t have an accident. Call my car insurance provider, make small talk with the tire repair person and even give them a tip. Apologize to people for being delayed—it was indeed out of my control, and have a successful meeting.
Both of the options above relate to the same stressor; what changed was the reaction.
Try using stress as a stepping-stone or a driver to make a decision, but don’t allow it to take over your mental health. It can be absolutely detrimental as high cortisol levels—the hormone released by stress—can lead to heart attack, stroke, depression, anxiety, diabetes, and the list goes on and on.
Next time you feel stressed, ask yourself, “Do I really need to be feeling this way, or could I find a better solution to my current problem?” And you’ll see how the problem turns into a situation with a solution.
Take Time to Relax and Do Things You Enjoy
When I first quit my job a few months ago and began my entrepreneurship journey, I felt engulfed by tasks, unresolved feelings, and anxiety about the future.
I guess you can say I was VERY STRESSED.
I talked about it with a friend of mine who asked, “What steps are you taking to make yourself happy? What are you doing for yourself?”
Up to that point, I had considered that my entrepreneurship journey was enough of a move toward self-love. However, I was not tuning in to activities that triggered relaxation and joy.
That’s why I chose to change things around in November. Just because 2019 was a challenging year from the start didn’t mean that it would end that way. It’s never too late to change things, and for me, that meant taking better care of myself.
So, I propose that you take the time to relax and do things you enjoy. The things that cause stress in your life be it finances, work, or traffic, are not in control of you and can wait. You shouldn’t have to postpone your happiness or essential things, such as spending quality time with your family, celebrating a birthday or anniversary, and taking a dream vacation simply because you’re afraid of what will happen next.
If “Modern Love” taught me anything at all, it was that while watching “Bipolar Girl” (Episode 3), she accepts herself and her illness. Suddenly, her life starts to change.
You have the power to create that change in your life, too, and to make time for what truly matters.