I'm doing a lot of internal review these days. I fully believe that I get little bits and pieces on my journey and my task is to work on putting the pieces together.
It's not new news that I'm struggling with stress. My job changed dramatically early last year. Since that time, corporate changes have added more stress to my list each time I turn around. While there used to be that proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel," I now feel like I'm completely buried and there is no possible way of finding the light without major change happening.
My work situation has had a lot of negative impacts on my life. My dentist even noticed that my gums are showing signs of me being stressed. I often have sore neck and shoulder muscles. Exercise and diet have gone out the window. I'm crankier and more exhausted. I've become more emotional- wanting to cry more than smile most of the time (just typing that brought tears to my eyes).
I have great friends who have surrounded me with support and love. They are there for me when I need to talk, need a hug, need a fun evening with friends.
I have a fantastic husband who has really stepped up to be a full partner in our lives. He makes dinner, never complains if he's the one "stuck" at home with the kids when I have meetings or work late or whatever, he tries to keep me laughing, he keeps on holding my hand, holding me.
I have kids that are full of joy and energy. And they also know, as much as a 7 year old and 4 year old can, that sometimes Mommy has had a particularly hard day and needs some extra hugs and loving.
Yesterday, I was talking with one of my friends about the sermon at church that was so moving for me- because it was a fellow church members sharing openly about her recent experience with job stress. Long story short, it lead to a stint in a stress center, a requested demotion to reduce the stress, and realizing that opening up your vulnerabilities to the people who love you in your church is important. I cried a lot Sunday morning but couldn't tell you exactly why at the time. Her lesson from her experience was the importance of opening herself up to the friends she had in her church family. But there was something about hearing about this stress situation in her life that somehow made my own experiences... more real.
My friend said to me... "I don't know why you trivialize this stress about work all the time."
So I started reading up on trivializing stress. Which led to the word "Minimization" which is, apparently, a close cousin to "Denial." In fact, minimalization is often a combination of denial and rationalization.
I read some articles and blog posts by people with initials like "PhD" after their name. And some things really stuck with me.
Minimization or denial is an attempt at making the stress not as bad, less harmful. I am trying to manipulate myself into believing that the stress isn't that big of a deal. As long as minimization/denial continues, I will do nothing to actually change what is going on. I won't take the problem seriously.
See? I am denying, I am rationalizing (a lot), I am minimizing. I am trying to redefine the importance of job stress in my life.
The past few days have been about realizing that this is A Problem and not just something I can muscle my way through. I'm a survivor. The thing I am best at is waiting it out, forcing my way through, seeing the light, and hunkering down. It's my automatic brain setting for this little voice in my head to tell me, "This isn't a big deal. Yeah, it stinks. But you aren't dealing with (insert any terrible thing that other people are living with) so you should just count your blessings."
I know I am blessed. I know it. I am thankful for my blessings. My friends, my husband, my church family, my home, my kids, my health, the health of my loved ones, having a job at all, having stability and security in my life... there is so much that I am truly and deeply thankful for each and every day.
So then I feel guilty for getting so stressed about something as "unimportant" as my job. Because I am so blessed. See how this minimization thing works?
Or I'll have a pretty good day, or a few good days. Work doesn't kill me and I leave feeling productive. Then I have hope. Then I figure that I'm really blowing it all out of proportion and it isn't so bad. See how the denial thing works?
And one big, single question remains...
What on earth do I do about all of it??