Stress – ooh this scary word that everyone denies. Stress can show itself in various forms – running around like a headless chicken, shouting at people, venting, crying. But it can also come out in the form of backing down, detaching yourself from the situation, acting like nothing happens. Although it does.
In the last weeks we were exploring what stress actually means, what the freeze reactions to stress might look like and how can you make use of the time when you’re not just quite ready to take any action yet.
Another way of dealing with stressful situations that we will look at – where you don’t feel like you’ve got enough resources or strength to deal with it – is backing down. So essentially when you flight it means that you are doing other things to avoid thinking about a given stressor. Although long-term it’s not the most effective strategy as it doesn’t attempt to solve the ‘problem’, it can be extremely helpful to reduce the stress levels short term.
All the things you need to do after moving…
Let’s say you are moving with a partner (and maybe also kids). You were appointed to manage the logistics related to the move – who would do it better than you, right? You couldn’t say no. But the amount of things to do just keep adding up – setting up the bank accounts, medical insurance, flat hunting, shipping of goods to the new location, finding a job/school, finding a reasonably priced grocery shop, dealing with these weird people... Oh gosh! That’s a lot to take on!
So your reaction might be to just focus on one thing, completely ignoring the others. In many cases, it will be reflected in good time management and prioritization.
All these people who know better
Often though the flight response might expose you to hurtful comments from your friends and family. “You’re playing around with printing photos for the frames and putting out candles all over the house instead of looking for work – are you crazy?”. You’re not crazy. “You could start looking for a job instead of sitting around and watering plants! Don’t you want to find a job and settle down?” Yes, you probably do want to feel like at home here. What you’re doing is you simply streamline all the things you need to do. Maybe you decided to settle down in your home first. This will help you, your partner and kids feel safer, create a nice supportive environment for your family in a surrounding that is complete new. You did that before actively starting to search for a new job for your family’s sake. And that’s ok if you need this to reduce the stress in a given moment.
Connecting with yourself
What writing a journal can help with though is to connect with yourself and know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Are you doing this really because you decided to do things one by one and decorating the house wouldn’t have a long-term impact of your job-search success? Or maybe you are just doing everything BUT starting to look for work because you’re scared that this might be problematic in a given location? If the latter, maybe it is the time to intentionally try to use different anti-stress strategies to release the pressure long-term and not just for a day or two? After all, the topic of a job will be coming back like a boomerang.
Best thing in learning about stress-reducing techniques
The best thing in expanding your knowledge about how to reduce stress and learning various techniques, is that your repertoire of ideas gets wider and wider. Thanks to this you may not only help manage your emotions, but also help your close ones deal with the stressors they experience.
In the above examples, you find yourself backing down and escaping the problems that you are aware of and substitute any actions that you are ‘supposed’ to take with some less meaningful activities only to avoid it. You notice this and so you may decide to stop and see what’s going on and why you still don’t feel satisfied with your new life. Either by practicing mindfulness, writing a journal, or finding a moment just with yourself to think about what you need. Once you know what’s going on and potentially why, you can start thinking about more active stress-reducing techniques to help you change the status quo…
You can use a variety techniques which relate directly to the type of struggle you’re facing at a given time.
Other articles in this series: