Why Stress Makes Me Sick + Ways To Deal

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As I mentioned on Monday, I was pretty sick last week to the point where it was debilitating. Thankfully I’m all better, but the entire week that I spent unplugging gave me some time to think and reassess what I believe to be the REAL cause for my sickness, sinus issues, fatigue, etc.

I’ll get to that in a second. But first, I’m going to tell you why I wanted to write this post.

I’m not trying to sound like I’m exaggerating, but I feel like my body has been taking a hit IN SOME WAY OR ANOTHER for almost a YEAR, whether it’s a sinus infection, my ovarian cyst (that ruptured a few months back and was so much ouch), a cold, the flu, fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, migraines, ear congestion, vision fatigue issues, stomach upset, intestinal pain (yuck), rashes (HIVES!!), and so on.

I thought this gave me a reason to be like “poor me” about why I seem to be sick all the time.

NO, this really just needs to just STOP. I took a hard look at myself. I took a look at the past year — really though, I sat on my couch in silence and just thought about all this.

And I found the ONE common denominator that held all these seemingly never-ending ailments together.

Ready?

✖️✖️STRESS✖️✖️

 

Now for some, this may seem obvious, For others, not so much. It was a little bit of both for me, only because I couldn’t believe that stress could have this horrendous effect on my body, at least not to this magnitude.

Let’s go back.

Two years ago I entered into a long distance relationship. It was rough. And really, the word “rough” doesn’t really describe all the different degrees of emotion, anxiety, and most of all STRESS, that an LDR can put you through. I’m talking about the obligatory phone calls for morning and night, the frustration when you can’t take your boyfriend on a double date with your friend and her boyf, the anxiety when you wonder if it’s all going to be worth it when you’re reunited, and all that jazz.

But the fact is that it’s all STRESS. So much stress, and most of it was self-induced (even though I felt like I couldn’t help it).

Also, almost a year ago I was going back to school to start my Master’s program, on top of worrying about my LDR. Going back to school made me feel as if I had to freak out over my future, my goals, my plans, etc. And to some degree, you do have to think about that stuff, but whatever I was doing was completely UNHEALTHY.

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The point is, I was stressed. I felt stressed beyond belief. At times I was stressed that I didn’t have enough stuff to do to fill my day. Then I went to school and felt stressed that I had TOO much going on. I was stressed worrying about Joey and if he was safe up in SF, scared that maybe he got jumped on the walk back to his apartment from work — it was bad.

I would lose sleep because of all this stress I felt like I was being put under, and sometimes I couldn’t even locate what was stressing me out at all!

We all can agree that a little stress (A LITTLE BIT) is good for us. It motivates us to do better, achieve more, and so on.

But too much stress and soon you can develop heart problems, musculoskeletal disorders, ulcers, and even DIABETES (no doubt much, much more). {VIA}

So last week, sitting on my couch, I gave myself an internal pep talk. I laid out every situation I have going on right now, and with each one I said, “Okay, what’s the worst that can happen?” And it turns out, most of the outcomes were NOT that bad. So I figured, why am I so stressed out about it?

I laid out all the things I needed to get done (a bullet journal really helps with this btw) and told myself, “Why are you stressed out about the things you have to get done? Just do them!!” And I did them (sent out emails, wrote stuff down, read my assignments), and I felt BETTER.

I had to seriously take a look at myself and say, “This isn’t what I want,” and start the climb out of that psychological stress hole I had dug for myself. I don’t want to be sick all the time because I don’t have proper coping mechanisms to deal with stress. That’s just plain ridiculous. And I worry about things that I don’t HAVE to worry about. I stress when other people aren’t well or happy. I stress when I think about my future. I stress out about my past.

I’m serious. RIDICULOUS stuff.

For anyone going through this same thing, I want to give you some tips on how to deal with stress. Keep in mind that developing better coping is, sadly, a somewhat new concept for me.

 

✖️Write out everything that you have to get done✖️

Sometimes when I’m freaking out, just writing a list down of what I have to do helps me A TON. As soon as I have it all written out it makes whatever I have to do seem smaller than I thought. Seeing it all written out on a piece of paper just makes things appear not so intimidating. Not to mention, it feels really good to cross things off when you do them. Plus, you might realize that even though it seems like you had 546213685416 things to do, it’s really only 3. Pull stuff out of your head and write it down. Cement it onto paper and it won’t seem so ambiguous and scary and anxiety-making!

 

✖️Meditate on it✖️

Meditating, I’m sure you all know by now, is something I practice ON THE DAILY. It’s a great way to reset your mind, freeze all those thoughts that are jumping around in the back of your head, and just focus on the fact that you are currently (no matter what future or past you’re dwelling on) you are steeped in the present. You are alive and breathing. You have the power to choose from this currently moving present point to do whatever you want to do that will lead you to happiness, whatever that may be.

For easing into meditation, I HIGHLY suggest the “Stop, Breathe, and Think” meditation app. I use it every day RELIGIOUSLY. I literally recommend this app to everyone I talk to when they start telling me about how stressed out or anxious they are.

 

✖️Remove the excess✖️

Okay so let’s say you followed my first bit of advice and wrote down all your to-dos and scheduled events and such, and see that WOW,  you actually DO have 54615651 things going on. This is when your stress can just get worse by writing things down. But don’t let that be the case!!

Instead, start cutting down. ON EVERYTHING.

Say you took on a heavy course load. Is there a class you can drop (provided it won’t damage your record too bad) to reduce the weight of your academic life? (I’ve definitely done this one.)

Do you do too many extracurriculars? Maybe there are a few you can pass on this year.

Just look at your list of things to do and really, REALLY assess what needs to be done THIS SECOND, and get it done. Everything else can take a back seat.

 

Remember: Your health should ALWAYS come first. Especially your mental health.

 

Then, take things further. Are there people in your life that are really not worth the stress they bring? Maybe try to focus your attention elsewhere. Surround yourself with positive people.

Are there too many apps on your phone and you feel overwhelmed just looking at them? Sometimes it’s fun to go minimal. Go through each app and really decide if you actually need it/use it. It’ll help clear out some memory too, which I know we all struggle with.

 

✖️Unplug and take a break✖️

I know I’m throwing it back to Monday’s post, but I’m ALL about taking a day to yourself when you feel that you can truly spare the time. If not, make time. Pamper yourself. Read a book. Turn your phone off. Watch a movie. Take some time to just relax and let your mind wander. You’ll be surprised about the revelations you come to when you just let everything go.

 

✖️Do something with a manageable stress-load✖️

My teacher suggested this to me the other day when I was whining about how stressed out I feel (god I feel so bad for doing that). Whatever it is, it needs to be something that gives you stress that you can manage, and doesn’t have to do with other aspects of your life (like academic life).

For me, I’m thinking maybe learning a language, or diving back into crocheting and working on some intricate blanket patterns (I told you I was an indoor cat.).

But also, managing this blog is another way I can create a manageable stress-load for myself (even though blogging is WAY WAY WAY harder than it looks). I can start learning to take better photos, drafting more posts, tinkering with the layout, learning more about CSS (someone help me please??). The point is, I need to be doing something fun to counteract all the negative stress I feel from other things.

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I hope these tips have helped you all out a little bit. Let me know what works/what does work for you!

Any stress management tips you’d like to share? Please tell!

ALSO… unrelated, but has ANYONE seen “Narcos”? Recommend? Joey keeps telling me to watch it but I don’t trust his taste in TV shows HA, and I need more people to tell me before I commit.

Talk to you soon! Gitana xx