“I didn’t know how stressful it was until it stopped.” This is what a friend recently shared with me after the “it”, a major stressor, was removed from her life. Isn’t this true, though?
So many times we just do what needs to be done without realizing the effects of the situation on our bodies, minds and emotions. I just read an article that stated that women don’t always gauge the level of stress in their lives accurately because they just accept it as normal. According to Dr. Sherita Hill Golden of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine women don’t report the level of stress they are feeling because they see it “as a normal way of functioning.”
This is dangerous on a number of levels from our health to our emotional well-being. Living with constant high levels of stress increases our risk for heart disease, diabetes and a number other equally dangerous health conditions. The good news is that women are better able to deal with stress once they name it than men are. Women connect with friends and share what is going on. Women are more apt to report stress related symptoms to their doctors (hopefully, the doctors listen). And women are willing to slow down and use some stress reducing techniques when they realize how much their stress lowers their ability to be productive.
However, we have to get to the point of naming the stressors before we can act. And this takes me back to my friend’s comment. Why does it take the stressor being removed from our lives before we realize that we are stressed out!!!?????
I’ve found myself in this same exact situation more times than I care to recount. I can hear myself saying “oh, it’s not that bad”, or “it won’t be much longer”, or “there is nothing I can do but accept it”, or the one that makes crazy to this day “it is what it is”.
I can also go back and list the health related problems that go with each of those situations I was so glibly and bravely dealing with – ulcer, nervous exhaustion, more sinus infections than I care to remember, high blood pressure, chest pain, pinched nerves, torn muscles, broken bones, and finally, clinical depression. It was the last diagnosis that became my wake up call because when the depression was treated I really did see how much it hurt before versus after.
Now, my passion and life goal is to keep stress to a minimum and to work with amazing women who are short-changing themselves by accepting more and more stress in the name of being a good mother, wife, employee.
As a wise woman once told me “Life is not a drudgery to be endured but a festival to be enjoyed. Eliminating or transforming the drudgery is now an act of love for myself and those I love. How about you?