How do you respond to pressure? Not just the momentary pressure of public speaking or passing a big exam, but the big picture stress that comes when you have to perform or your life and the lives of those around you will never be the same. Been there?
Sadly, I can't share all the details with you, but for the past two months I've been under incredible pressure and have noticed some potentially dangerous behaviors cropping up as the walls of my life compress me. This is my personal list. Some might seem pretty stupid....but for me they are a natural response when I am not mindful of the needs of my body and soul. Take a look and make a list of your own!
1. Starving myself or overeating:
This one is so nasty. When my heart is gripped with cold fear, food loses all appeal and I survive on an apple and some nuts. When my courage returns and the angsty, irritation and depression arrives, I snack to try to ease the pain.
2. Holding my breath:
DAFUQ is up with this??? I will literally clench my throat and chest as if not moving or breathing and holding very still will protect me from some hidden danger. The first time I recall noticing this bad behavior, I was learning to drive with my dad and he asked, "Will holding your breath make you drive better?!" No. Obviously. Deep breath........
3. Desire to shop recklessly:
Ok, I may be guilty of this when I'm not feeling especially crushed, but retail therapy is an outlet I RACE too when I'm scared, unhappy, dissatisfied, or let down in myself or my situation. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb idea. And expensive too.
4. Sexually promiscuous urges:
I'm sure we all agree that throwing myself onto the world as a wild and crazy Girl Gone Wild won't release my tension the way I imagine it will. Everyone wants and deserves sexual satisfaction, but I'm pretty sure joining a bisexual gang bang in pursuit of inner peace may be harmful if I'm not participating from a place of confidence and pure sexual arousal. Don't let stress drive you to new depths. Repel mindfully down this crevasse.....don't throw yourself over the precipice.
5. Scratching at my face:
This is excruciatingly embarrassing and I'm so shy to share it with you. I scratch at the small bumps and pores on my face to the point where I bleed and potentially scar myself. Not your traditional form of cutting, but I believe there is something to the need for pain and the site of your own blood that is brought about by fear and stress.
6. Driving fast....or erratically:
Texting + driving = lunacy. At some point when I'm freaking out, I switch to a form of careless I-don't-give-an-F driving style that is basically asking for a terrible accident. Speed. Fast turns. Irregular lane changes. Anything outside of normal, safe driving crops up when I feel unwell. Don't do this. Ever.
7. Craving smoke, drunkenness, and regulated substances:
Under normal circumstances, I am straight and narrow - no smoke, drugs, or rowdy rounds of shots. It just isn't my style. So when my subconscious kicks in and starts nudging me to do things outside of my normal realm of preferences, I have to check myself and ask if it's Tara that wants to try new things or scared and stressed Tara trying to find relief from her life.
|Stress's Achilles' Heel|
Living with a 3-6 month "mission" where this one big THING has been the most dominant factor of my life - deciding everything from whether I need sunscreen to what time I eat - has me looking at other people in a new light.
If my temporary raison d'etre has me curled up in a ball on the floor at night, how badly must some other folks I meet be hurting and how are THEY coping??? I judge softly now when I see some self-harm choices others make. Pain and stress can make you go crazy.
My hope is that you find your stress signals. Don't act on them. Act in spite of them. Tell a friend. Take the time to love yourself. You are the only one who can. <3