WhiteFlag Outreach Coordinator
“I’m so stressed!” How many times a day do we all utter that short three-word phrase? And what does it truly mean? Being stressed is something that can be good for us; a little bit of challenge and hard work is beneficial. But, too much stress can be incredibly draining, both mentally and physically. We have to learn to create boundaries, set limits, and to listen to our bodies and our minds. We have to use the stress; we can’t let the stress use us to the point of exhaustion, breakdowns, or in detriment to our mental health.
We live in a society that loves to preach that you aren’t “good enough” if you don’t have a packed schedule and a to-do list the length of your arm. If you aren’t on the verge of screaming at the top of your lungs about everything you have to do, are you even being productive? If you aren’t jam-packed with responsibilities for the entire day, you’re lazy. But what happened to taking a day to breathe, to check in with yourself, or simply reset your mind? Why is stress seen as the defining factor of success or productivity? Why does being an overachiever seem to be a goal to everyone? Who determines what?
One of the most important things I have learned on my journey of understanding my own mental health, is the importance of understanding my limits. I know that some days, my stress levels motivate me and keep me energized and focused; while other days, it can seem like a weight on top of my shoulders that I simply can’t shake. I had to learn that “No.” is a complete sentence. I can no longer stretch myself so thin and agree to doing everything just to calm the anxieties in my mind of constantly wanting to please those around me. All the things on my to-do list do not need to be checked off within that same day. I can take a couple of days to complete them, AND take a couple of days to myself.
Too much stress can lead your body to a weakened immune system, an upset digestive system, and speed up your aging process. Not only can stress change your body physically, it can change your mind mentally, without even realizing it. Stress can add to anxiety, make you feel depressed, bring out your obsessive compulsive disorder, or trigger an eating disorder. We’ve all felt it.
In the time of a changing society, one being rewired by the impacts of a global pandemic, now, more than ever, is the time that we should listen to our bodies.
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