“I’m so busy I don’t even have time to think.”
“This new job is killing me.”
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead! There are too many things I have to focus on right now.”
“If I don’t get this done, I’m going to fall behind. Everyone else is working so hard, I’ve got to keep up.”
How many of us have ever said one of these things to a friend or colleague in passing? Stress. It’s in our culture. There’s an over-glorification of busyness in our world, a chronic case of overwork that has infiltrated our schools, workplaces, and society as a whole. In this day and age, if you’re not worked to the brink of exhaustion, you’re not as good as everyone else.
And then there’s all the negativity in the world. How many of us have avoided making eye contact with the television so we won’t see the updates about the presidential bloodbath or the literal one in Syria? How many of us are dealing with family issues, job woes, faith crises?
We live in a world that is hard. For all the technological and educational advancements we’ve made, we are the most overworked, fearful, and anxious generation. And no amount of Netflix, alcohol, carefully curated social media posts, or other attempts to self-medicate will cure it.
Today, I want to talk about mental wellness. As someone who would put a checkmark next to all of the statements I made above, I’m surprisingly hush-hush about my own struggles with stress and anxiety. I would like to think that it’s because I don’t want to add to the overwhelming negativity out there, but in reality, it’s a mechanism of self-defense.
After all, nobody wants to admit that they’re struggling. That’s not condoned by our society. And yet, it exists. One in four U.S. adults struggles with a mental illness. I am and have been one of them. And I guarantee that each of us, regardless of whether or not we have a diagnosable illness, have found ourselves pushed to the brink of our emotional and mental capacity.
So for a moment today, I want to create a space to discuss my own struggles with stress and anxiety, and a few ways that I have found to live joyfully in spite of them. My hope is that we can come to understand that dealing with stress and anxiety are real facts of life, and that we are not weak in naming and identifying them. In fact, by being honest with ourselves, we can actually create space to share our burdens, and by doing so, make them a little lighter. Here are four ways that I’ve been able to find joy and peace in the midst of enormous stress—I hope they’ll be helpful to you as well. Continue reading “What I’ve Learned Wednesday: An Honest Conversation About Stress & Anxiety”