Pressure. Stress. Anxiety. Worry. Woe. No matter what you call it we can all agree on the common variable that the aforementioned is not enjoyable, nor is it something we like to experience. However, it inevitably happens – and we can’t always control the triggers that bring it to be the bull in the china shop of our souls. Sometimes it’s a work deadline, a research paper, family or relationship problems. Sometimes it’s having to wait at a stoplight a little too long or that your local donut shop is out of the kind with the sprinkles that you like. I just yelled to my girlfriend in the kitchen: “Can you remember the last time I got really upset about something completely irrational?” She paused for a minute before poking her head out and reluctantly responding: “Is this a trick question?”
I’m prone to anxiety, always have been and always will be because that’s how I’m wired. Most people find this surprising because I present as pretty even-keeled and am always the go-to person for anyone in duress. I blame this on going to school to become a therapist and then not doing shit with it. I got to thinking recently about all the things people tell you to do to manage anxiety, and how impossible said things are to do in when you are mentally in that place. I thought it’d be fun to research some “stress-reliving” techniques and compare and contrast what they recommend verses how I hear it:
What You’re Told To Do: Drink Tea. Passionflower, Lavender, Lemon Verbana, and Ginseng are all great for stress reduction. In fact, these teas help to bring the stress hormones back to normal levels. This has been proven through various scientific studies, none of which were cited in the article I got this information from.
My Interpretation: Is it mushroom tea? Does it have an Alcohol By Volume measurement? Did you know chamomile actually has compounds that react to the same receptors in your brain as Valium? Lesson: Tea is nothing like Valium, nothing. Seriously if you tell me to drink tea while I’m having a panic attack watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, you will end up wearing it on your face.
What You’re Told To Do: Meditate. Meditation can clear the mind and take you into a deep state of relaxation. It’s simple: sit or lay down, set your intention, wipe your consciousness clear, and breathe.
My Interpretation: Oh you want me to meditate to appease my stress levels? I’d like you to do a human pretzel, stare at the sun for sixty-seconds, or sneeze with your eyes open. All of these things are entirely possible but there’s a good chance you don’t want to do them or will get frustrated trying. This is the only mediation for times of strife:
Just feel the fucking nonsense float away. Breathe in strength, breathe out bullshit.
What You’re Told To Do: Breathe. Deep Breathing can slow the heart rate and blood pressure therefore countering the effects of stress. Connect with your ujjayi breath, or whatever.
My Interpretation: I am inhaling and exhaling air from my lungs which correlates directly with the general definition of breathing. In fact, I am doing it so fast and rapidly right now that I expect to lose consciousness in the next sixty-seconds. Smelling salts are under the bathroom sink.
What You’re Told To Do: Yoga. Child’s Pose, Savasana, and Cat Pose are all great yoga stances for relieving stress. Akin to meditation, your focus and mind-body connection can regulate the very practices in your body working against you.
My Interpretation: I like the idea of cat pose – probably because I like cats a lot. There’s something that actually relieves stress for me – cat memes. Maybe next time you feel overwhelmed at work you should stop mid-meeting and start grooming yourself or brush up against someones legs. However, the more I am considering yoga – the less I’m finding reasons to talk shit about it because it usually involves attractive females in spandex and that would definitely make me feel better.
What You’re Told To Do: Take a Bath. Water is soothing because it takes us back to the feeling of the womb.
My Interpretation: Now I’m even more anxious because you’re making me acknowledge that I spent time inside my Mother’s uterus and that I came out her vagina. Thanks a lot. Now every time I bathe I will picture myself as a little alien fetus which really offsets the candles I lit, and the glass of Pinot Grigio by my side.
Last but not least is when someone tells you to just “calm down.” My interpretation: You are dead to me. Telling someone this minimizes their experience, which whether you deem valid or not is very real to them.
This is where I level with you and tell you not everything I wrote necessarily reflects how I feel In Real-Life (IRL) I mean, stressed is desserts spelled backwards so how mad can you be? You’ll eventually eat some cake and get over it. Stress and anxiety are fleeting feelings no matter how intense and powerful they feel whilst occurring. I truly believe that every problem I incur will teach me something valuable. Winston Churchill once said: “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” There’s a reason he won a Nobel Prize in Literature and was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and I just have a blog.
That being said I do employ a small army of homeopathic practices to keep my shit on point. Ironically I do use many of the very things I made satire of in this entry. I’ve become a huge fan of acupuncture, and long walks on the beach and/or the asphalt of my neighborhood catching Pokemon. I was always very skeptical of acupuncture as I didn’t understand how getting needles stuck in you could ever be relaxing, and then once I went – how the fuck people fell ASLEEP during it. Their soft snores were both adorable and alarming (I go to community acupuncture so you share a room with others). The other day after 3.5 months of going once a week, what do you know? I fell asleep. Instead of being cute – I woke myself up by drooling, talking/whining in my sleep, and lastly – by jerking myself awake violently. I’m great at acupuncture guys. Shoutout to SLC QI.
Stress is hard, that goes without saying. My advice to you is gather what works for you and leave the rest behind – know what you may need in one circumstance may not be the same as the rest. Drink wine, cry, swear, complain, and punch something (never someone). It’s not always pretty, and neither is life. There’s a boat load of stress out there and all you need to handle it is to know yourself, believe in yourself, and accept we all have breaking points that can vary which is perfectly natural. The good news is there’s so much more to enjoy in life then there is to worry about. Forgive yourself the days you don’t handle so great, and handle the rest better. Keep calm and truck on.