I didn’t see much of my friends that year.
It was early summer, and I flew to Wisconsin to spend time with the woman I was in love with. I came back heartbroken, because it turned out she was in love with another guy and that left me out in the cold.
The situation sucked. But this isn’t a mushy post about how lovelorn I was, it was what I did afterward that I shouldn’t have.
I came back stressed out. That stress stayed with me for months. I had really liked her, I couldn’t get the situation out of my head, and I had no idea what to do.
The only phrase that came to mind was, “Time will heal all.”
Ok, maybe it will. But the length of time? That can differ considerably.
I handled my stress the only way I knew how: most days I would come home, close myself in my room and play video games and watch TV.
Other people might’ve reacted differently, either drinking away the pain, or maybe going shopping a lot.
Outside of something physically harmful, I handled my stress in the the worst way I could’ve, and sent myself into several months of depression.
What Not to Do When Stressed Out
Did you already guess it?
When you get stressed out, there’s a lot of hormones released into our system. The most well known one is cortisol. It’s a hormone that’s helped us survive thanks to the flight or flight response, but research shows that prolonged exposure to it (such as when someone is stressed out all the time) can even damage your brain.
But there’s another hormone that’s released.
Have you heard of oxytocin? It’s called the “cuddle-hormone.” And it’s released when you feel stressed out. Why?
There are other stress responses out there than fight or flight, one of which has been named “tend and befriend” by Dr. Shelly Taylor who’s a social psychologist at the University of California.
When we start feeling stressed, oxytocin is released to drive us toward being social, to spend time with our friends and family. Doing this, more oxytocin is released, and it helps us heal from the damage cortisol can cause.
As several doctors discovered when researching oxytocin, it helps reduce “depression, anxiety [and] cardiac stress.”
The damage and depression stress can cause, Oxytocin can heal and reduce. And it comes most into play when you’re spending time with your loved ones.
What was I doing instead?
When We’re Stressed Out…
You probably know how you react to stress. Maybe you ignore it and indulge in something you shouldn’t.
My default way is to seclude myself and not see others. I’m an introvert, and seeking out social interaction doesn’t come naturally to me – it takes effort on my part. When I’m feeling stressed, it doesn’t feel like I have the energy to do it.
If you’re feeling stressed, you might not feel like you have the “energy” either.
More likely, especially if you’re have too much on your plate like most people nowadays, you don’t feel like you have enough time.
“Not enough time” could be a disease with how many people it affects.
You could be like Steve in a previous post who didn’t have enough time for his family. If you don’t have enough time for your family, you probably don’t have enough time for your friends, either.
You Will Never Have Enough Time
Time is funny, because you will never have enough of it.
Work will always expand to fill the time you have. Other people will always take it from you.
What’s the answer?
It’s to schedule time with friends and family on your calendar.
You have to block out the time in advance, or else you’re never going to have it.
There’s something about putting it down on the calendar that’s like magic. If it’s on there, it’s much, much more likely to happen.
If you don’t schedule yourself and create a block of time, it can easily be taken up by work, other people, or just frittered away by spending time browsing the internet.
What else do you “not have enough time” for?
Maybe it’s doing something you’ve always wanted to try, like learning the piano or taking dance lessons, or something creative you used to do like painting or writing.
My girlfriend and I have a scheduled date night each week. We set aside the time in advance, and since it’s blocked out for us all of the other things we have to do fall into place around it.
If you suffer from a curse of not enough time, when was the last time you scheduled yourself to be with your friends or family?
How Do You Treat Your Clients?
You might be the kind of person who makes appointments with your staff, clients, or patients and won’t budge on the time you block out for them.
If you’re stressed out and don’t have any downtime with the people you care about, it’s time to start treating them like your clients.
Make an appointment with them. Hold yourself to it.
I’m sure they’ll love spending time with you, but it’s for your own health and sanity.
If you never take time to relax, you’re putting your relationships on the line, and worse, you’re putting your health on the line.
Who hasn’t heard of the salesman or doctor who’s so overworked they turn to drinking or drugs just to handle the stress, or lose their connection with their significant other and start an affair?
Don’t let that be you.
If you’re overwhelmed, it might not feel like you have the energy or the time to take a break with friends.
If you don’t schedule yourself, you never will and it’ll be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And what’s worse? Not feeling like you have enough time and energy now and doing it anyway, or having a breakdown when everything falls apart in the future?
Who haven’t you seen lately?
Schedule yourself to see someone you care about. Really nail yourself down with the date and time. Don’t give yourself the wriggle room to get out of it.
Trust me, they’ll thank you, and so will your body and mind.
Hypnosis for Stress Relief Denver
While we all experience stress, sometimes the stress is being caused by something deeper than we realize. With hypnosis we can find out what that is and change it. Not only that, but sometimes it just feels wonderful to relax deeply, and hypnosis can help – click here to learn more. Or if you’re ready for a free consultation, call me at 720-382-0223.