My self-medication is eating junk food and binging TV shows when I’m stressed. At work, I’ll grab an unhealthy snack provided by the office. At home, I’ll eat an entire Ben and Jerry’s or bag of chips. If no one’s around, I’ll lay on the couch, eat my eyes out, and watch my favourite show. Sometimes, if there’s no food around, I’ll bite my nails or knuckles.
I’m sure there’s worse things to do, but I’m really trying hard to stop myself from going down this same path every time I get stressed. My parents and past therapists told me I should take anxiety pills, but I feel like there’s a better solution.
A lot of people want to know how to stop their inappropriate behaviours like drinking or binge-eating, but maybe it’s time to find out how to stop your stress instead. I mean, even if I can stop myself from eating chocolate by never having it in my house, I’ll have to find some other way to self-medicate. What am I going to do, throw my computer and TV away so I can never binge-watch shows?
Instead of trying to stop myself from doing these bad things, I’ve been trying to end my stress. It’s hard though. Really hard. First, I have to figure out why I’m stressed so much. I’ve been working on self-reflection, journaling everyday, and using apps to track my daily happiness. It really helps to talk to yourself. And as I’m going through this journey, I’ve learned to love myself more.
Once you figure out why you’re stressed, you have to convince yourself that the stress is your fault. Don’t blame your boss, your partner, or your homework. If you blame anyone except yourself for your stress, you’ll experience self-helplessness, which is when you convince yourself that the current situation can not be changed – no matter what you do! So, you might have to be mean to yourself at first.
Once you truly know the stress is your fault, then you can start to fix it. Here’s an example: if I’m stressed at work, my initial thought is to blame work for my stress (pretty obvious). But then I’ll get no where. The only way to eliminate the stress would be to quit and find a new job. But then I’ll just get that new job and experience the same stress all over. So, if I can start to check in with myself at work, talk to myself, and write down some notes while I’m stressed, I can find out why I’m feeling so stressed in the first place. Let’s say I’m stressed because I feel like I have so many projects to get done and I don’t even know where to start. Maybe I need to change how I approach my work – instead of freaking out, jumping right in, and multitasking my way through multiple projects, I should spend an hour organizing my schedule and planning out how I’ll do the projects one by one. Hmm, maybe there’s deadlines and pressure from a lot of people to get everything done though. I should try communicating with my boss and co-workers that I can’t handle the load.
I think people get wrapped up so much in their own thoughts that they forget that everyone else probably experiences the same thoughts at some point too. It’s okay to tell someone that you’re too stressed. Don’t think they’ll get mad at you or fire you. Just talk.
Hopefully this brief example helps you a bit. Everyone copes with stress in different ways, some better than others. The first thing to do is to talk to yourself. Take more control over your life. Trust me, it’ll help your confidence, help you love yourself more, and lay the foundation for you becoming a better, less-stressed person.