I don’t deal with stress well. Pressure I can do. Pressure and I are friends. But give me an overloaded life plate and I go down hard. People don’t typically see me flailing because I keep the balls in the air at work and important volunteer opportunities, but those people don’t know that:

  • My car hasn’t been registered for almost six months, because I’m too scared to find out what I owe in tickets.
  • Previous to last weekend, I hadn’t cleaned the inside of my car in a year, and you could tell. And it only got cleaned because my mom did it.
  • I spend upwards of three hours a night lately playing Bingo Bash on my iPad because I can’t deal with life.
  • I hide in my bedroom under the covers for most of the day after I get home.

Does this sound like a functioning adult? No? That is because I suck at dealing with stress. Here’s some ways you probably suck at it too:

1) Giving in to the anxiety spiral.

I know this is what’s up with my car. Thinking about the tickets makes me anxious, so I try not to think about it, which leads me to putting off the registration, which makes me more anxious.

Solution: Pull off the bandaid. Normally we recommend baby steps, but if you’re this far in the hole the only thing to do is face your fear. Make an appointment to do the thing; even if just with yourself.

2) Refusing help – or just not asking for it.

I am not great at cleaning. Typically I throw some money at this problem – highly recommended if it works for you! – but my finances aren’t really there right now.

So my car got grubbier. In full sun it was hard to see out the windshield (I know, I’m gross.) Then my mom got fed up and just made me bring it over so she could clean it. I guess she was sick of sitting in a pile of empty ziploc bags every time we went for coffee. Now that’s it’s nice inside, I feel relaxed when I’m driving instead of anxious that I should have cleaned it.

Solution: Ask for help with that herculean task. People actually love being helpful. When you frame something as “will you help me?” most people jump at the chance.

3) Stress is giving you symptoms of depression.

Hey there, buddy, are you reading this from under your covers at high noon? Sometimes stress can make you act like a depressed person. Trying to avoid your responsibilities is a classic stress move.

Solution: Look, I’m not going to pretend you didn’t have shit to do. But forget about that now; reset the clock. Give yourself permission to give no fucks about catching up. I didn’t update this blog for like two weeks. Rather than hold myself to making up for it, I just started with Tuesday, my regular update day. It is way easier to mentally get behind doing one blog post than on ‘catching up’, a nebulous concept. Missed a small school assignment? Do the next one. Missed a deadline at work? Send what you have (or ask for help – above.)

4) Staring at the elephant.

My laundry has been staring me in the face for days weeks. (Can you tell cleaning is the first thing to go when I’m stressed?) It’s easy to stare at that giant pile and be like I CAN’T and flop dramatically into a pile of sad. Because I know laundry isn’t just laundry, it’s get change and sort and four loads and carry it down and go down and change to dryer and can I carry this and folding and away-putting. It’s an elephant – one word for a huge thing.

Solution: Channel your no-fucks giving from last tip. What’s the first piece of the horrible elephant? In my case, getting change. So get the change, and give no fucks about when the next step happens. Consider your mission of Doing a Thing accomplished.

Above all, give yourself a break. Like, if you write a post called 5 Ways You Suck at Stress, just bail early if you can’t think of a fifth thing. Be nice to yourself. This is survival mode.

Goodnight everyone.