Dear Dr. Sylvia,
The pandemic has changed the way we talk about mental health. And that’s a good thing.
For example, there are more and more conversations about how to stay healthy and engage in self care.
Mental Health means self-care
As a result, good mental health includes quiet time for oneself, eating better, exercising, and being in nature.
Most importantly, I want you to know that I am on board with all of this. Because, until now, all I did was eat lots of chocolate to make me happy. And the pounds were sadly adding up.
However, all this talk about being good to oneself is what led me to write to you.
Therefore, I have a question.
To clarify, I just read some research indicating that people are now working even longer hours. As a result, they are feeling more anxious, depressed, or just plain exhausted.
Isn’t that odd?
Less time to and from work has not made the big difference I thought it would.
How can this be?
Since we can’t complain about excessive traffic to the office right now what do we growl about?
Consequently, most of us bitch and moan needing a a vacation. However, that is starting to change.
Working from home, caring for children, and monotony are in the mix. Subsequently, this causes so many of us to stay angry or sullen.
This is where my question comes in.
Time to worry about … everything
Firstly, this is embarrassing; however, I will stop being like a little kid and fess up.
The other night I was beyond exhausted. For instance, there are, simply put, constant demands on me.
Further, there is never enough time. Too many annoyances, not enough pleasure. Too much … well, you get the idea
Here is when my story becomes strange and hopefully, more interesting.
The fear of burnout
In any case, I finally dropped into my bed. I thought, “I’m done.” I said to myself, “I am close to burnout.” My racing mind made me wonder, “What am I doing anyway?”
It was dark in the room. I love to sleep with the curtains shut and of course, no night light.
My husband was on a business trip a town away. The first time we were not together in the past COVID year plus.
It actually felt great to be alone.
So I snuggled into my pillow and comforter and then….. well and then….
This really is embarrassing
Noise in the night
Any way. I heard a growl. At first, I thought it was my stomach although I was well fed and feeling fine.
Then the growl came again.
I began to freeze.
We don’t have any pets now that the kids are on their own. My son took our dog so that was not where the sound was coming from.
The growl kept up until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I slid to the side of the bed and looked underneath.
And, there it was. The frickin’ stress monster from my youth.
It was there smiling up at me, big teeth, and strange green color I remember so well.
When the inner kid takes charge
I wanted to scream for my mother. Then I remembered I am a grown woman. In addition, I am strong and capable of taming any monsters that were still hanging around.
I know in Don’t Bring It To Work, you talk about patterns from the past. You have great examples of how they show up in the present time.
Well, this is one of those times.
I did what you teach.
I began to search inside myself to figure out why this old, funny, ugly, annoying creature showed up.
Am I really losing it?
Anyway, I could use some thoughts of comfort.
Why me, why now, why this?
Thanks for responding,
When the past and present merge
Dear Super Stressed,
First, know you are not alone. Just about everyone revisits stress monsters from childhood.
Interesting, that they always seem to hide under the bed.
For instance, there’s even a name for fear of monsters called Teraphobia. You can read more here…
Above all, as kids, you really didn’t have the emotional or mental skills to stand up to your fears. Some of you were lucky enough to have parents or even older siblings who would turn the lights on. They would help you peek under the bed to get some comfort.
Here are some suggestions to help keep those damn stress monsters from disturbing your sleep.
- Find a way to recharge: Every day, and I mean every day, take10 minutes breaks. Do this at least 3 times a day. You can simply do some deep breathing, journal, sing a song, listen to music, stretch. Right there, at night, lying in bed, go ahead and breath, journal, sing a song, put on some music. Rest is vital to mental health.
- Plan ahead. Even in these uncertain times just plan. Dream about a vacation. Imagine dinner out with friends. Consider redoing your office with great plants, whatever makes you smile will reduce your stress. Let your memory take over and visualize great experiences. It will help you move from chaos to calm.
- Smile more: Even if you feel like crap, plant a smile on your face for a few minutes. Better yet, go online. Find some jokes or funny videos (especially of little kids laughing) and the stress will diminish. Just point the edges of your lips upward into a smile and hold it. It really works, even without a joke.
- Talk with your stress monster: Tell this strange creature why you are so exhausted. Here is what I bet will happen. The more you share your angst, the sooner this little monster is bored. The less you fear, it will finally fall asleep. Good news, then you can get some shut-eye.
No more teraphobia (yes, that’s the real name for this fear)
To sum up, Stress Monsters are not such a strange phenomenon. More and more adults are finding that stress is moving them to overwhelm and burnout which has impacted their mental health. That makes you feel like a little kid. It brings up memories of when things felt chaotic and confusing.
In conclusion, I want to personally invite you to join my new public and free Facebook group Stress Mastery. In short, the group dedicates itself to help you find the best ways to deal with over the top stress. Then, you can stay in the safe stress zone and live life to its fullest.
Here’s to your success,
PS. There is a really fun and informative 7 Day SANITY CHALLENGE you can do right now. It takes less than 10 minutes a day and has been a great help to tons of people. And, by the way…. there are prizes for those who complete and write about what this was like to do.
Find more by visiting my website: http://ceoptions.com/