Posted by: eliseanne | January 11, 2011

releasing stress’ hold on me

2011 is already a different year than 2010, and I have clearly grown. This time one year ago, I didn’t know how to deal with stress. I struggled with anxiety, a lot, and in that vulernable position I was taking too many things personally. I felt overwhelmed, and the hope and possibility of life as a whole, balanaced person – or an energetic one – was beginning to disappear.  I sadly watched it slip away as the effects of poorly managed stress and repressed anxiety closed in.  My mindset was one of survival, instead of one of overcoming.

If you’ve ever been there, you know how exhausting and depressing this struggle is. I needed hope, and I needed help to learn how to overcome. I wanted a healthier way to live, and thanks to a supportive husband and examples of prioritizing self-care, I made the choice to believe in and to pursue a healthier life. I took proactive action to learn how to overcome, to go through stress in a healthy way and to release the debilitating hold that anxiety and depression had on me. I might spend the rest of my life with anxiety or depression trying to pull me down (heredity, personality, life experiences), but that doesn’t mean that it will pull me down to the pit all the time, or that I can’t learn how to move through it in a healthy way. 

The first thing that I did was sign up for counseling and a support group. Now don’t get all uppity on me. Somewhere inside of you, you know that the stigmas against both of those are distorted. Through the group’s workbook and discussions, I’ve been able to explore my predispositions to anxiety, codependency, and legalism. I’ve discovered that a lot of my instinctual reactions to situations are unhealthy – which means I had some deep habit changing ahead of me. Counseling helped me to further what I was learning in the group, on a more personal level.

Next, I learned how to set boundaries and stand up for myself. I started setting boundaries for myself (how I would receive things that people said/did, how I would talk to myself, etc) and for others (how people could talk to/treat me). I also started speaking up for myself – I know, I’m generally thought of as loud and assertive. But I often don’t stand up for myself with boundaries as well as I stand up for others’. It’s that old ingrained habit of not saying or doing anything that might make waves, and just taking the hit – which is not healthy!

Then I started to pay attention to my phsyical body. Massage therapy is not pampering. It has helped me to release the physical tension that was transferred to my body from emotional/mental tension…which causes less pain, headaches, and moodiness. So does my new breathing techniques and improved eating habits, and the chiropractor helped several times as well. I’ve re-started walking to work (still working on this one!), I’m playing broomball, and stretching (also a work in progress). When my body is ready, I will probably join yoga.

Lastly, I started to express my new self-confidence. I cut my hair, with a bold short & edgy cut. I have to get up early in the mornings now to style it. I pay attention to my appearance more regularly, with clothes and some makeup. I used to think that doing that only came in extremes – either you obsess about your appearance and become dependent on it for self-esteem, or you don’t care about it and have good self-esteem. So I chose the latter for most of my life, and it worked, and I liked it – except that I was afraid to ever become “high maintenance,” or even any daily maintenance, thinking it would cause me to lose my positive self image. Now I am learning that these things can affect my mood or confidence, but that it’s not dependent. In fact, I love it when cute clothes, a good hair day, and some makeup cna help me feel prepared to take on the day in healthy ways.

And of course, it’s always the little things. Reading a novel every now and then. Lighting scented candles in the bathroom instead of using overhead lights. Light therapy with a sun lamp. Those microwavable bags of rice, corn, etc for warmth. Spontaneous date nights and fun, like going to the Zoo. Doing something for others.

The end of 2010 / the beginning of 2011 began difficultly and horrifically for my family, but thanks to the hope and support I received and sought after, I feel healthier than I have been in a long time. I’m reclaiming the internal balance that is necessary for me to live a deep, holistic life.

What are you doing for your own self-care, whether you are in crisis-mode or not? How do you bring the relaxing spa experience home?

It’s my prayer that each of you find your own networks of support so that you can experience peace, calm, healing and hope as well.

Love. and Peace.


  1. Oh, friend. Thanks for sharing this. When I admire people (like you!) who do all sorts of cool things, who know about the world and politics and equity, it makes me think you have it all together and live a totally balanced, godly, flawless life. It makes me feel relieved when someone I respect confesses that they struggle. Not that I’m happy that you’ve struggled, but I’m happy that it’s a normal thing to do and that I’m not alone in it. Dexter and I have been talking lately about overcoming depression in our own lives, and this list is a great place to start.

    • I understand that relieved feeling. 🙂

      Depression is something so untalked about, but something that so many people deal with – I had no idea how many, until I started talking about my own.

      I have even heard it called a “sin” (as if it is a choice) in some conservative christian circles – all the more reason people don’t talk about it.

      Im glad that you and dexter are journeying through it and talking about it together. And I’m serious about the happy light.

      mega doses of Vitamin D also boost the mood!

  2. […] Releasing Stress’ Hold on Me – Tips about stress relief from her personal experience. […]

  3. […] Releasing Stress’ Hold on Me – Tips about stress relief from her personal experience. […]

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