A million things running through your mind. A million things you need to do. When you feel life is too much to handle, you stress.
When you stress, you worry about everything that’ll go wrong. Fret over how things might not get done in time. Feel over-worked.
The past three months have been rough for me. Juggling a full time office job and being a writer and a blogger hasn’t been easy: clueless as to why I’m doing the job I’m doing, emails waiting to be answered in my inbox, unhappy with articles I’m working on as deadlines loom, five hours of sleep at most each night. Being sick with the winter flu hasn’t helped either.
It takes patience to be less stressed. Take a step back from what’s driving you up the wall and do something else. Or don’t do too much for a moment. At one point, I was writing for my blog, for publications and for my own writing book every night after work in a space of a crammed, tired few hours. It was a struggle to put my feelings into words, let alone stories. One night I decided to play video games for half an hour and the words flowed better after that – all calmed down.
It takes courage to admit you’re stressed, and even more courage to do something about it. You get worked up maybe because you have the wrong approach to things; maybe you should do things differently. I usually finish each blog post in a couple of days but last month it was impossible as I wasn’t inspired to do so. As much as it was scary to go off schedule, I did manage to finish each post over a few days. Slowly.
Things don’t always go your way. Letting go of upsetting things you can’t change gives you the strength to move on when you’re stressed. A couple of weeks ago, I found out a publication rejected my article after I spent days redrafting it. This wasn’t nice to hear, but I reminded myself so be it: I don’t write to get published.
Stress isn’t always bad. A lot of the time, stressing over something means we want to get things done. And sometimes you get it done and learn what you’re capable of.
Forcing myself to stay up and write at night over these past frustrating few months, I’ve written more than I’ve ever had, experimenting and getting comfortable with a more casual writing style. Never knew my blog would still be going. I think I have it in me to write a book.
I stressed as a kid, and maybe this has rubbed off on my adult self. When I was high school, my Chinese-Malaysian parents rubbished the idea of stress. “Stress? No such thing. Keep doing problems in your maths book” was what my mum said to me each time I mentioned I felt stressed – headaches, fatigue – studying for exams. Seeing my bleary-eyed Asian classmates were always studying, I believed my mum and opened the textbooks again.
Being Asian, it’s hard not to stress. There’s pressure for many of us in Asia to work round the clock to finish that project at work. Pressure to believe in superstition. Coming first in class. Getting married. Stress, an unspoken part of Asian cultures.
When you stress, you want everything to fall into place. Sometimes we’re our worst critics, working hard to be perfect at everything because that’s what we expect of ourselves. But who can be perfect? We can only be perfect versions of our imperfect selves.
Reading this post I’ve written, I’m not too happy with it. It sounds clunky. Too boring. Too long. Perhaps I’m being ridiculous.
When you’re stressed, something’s got to give. Sometimes, that something is something – or someone – you love. Maybe it’s time I stopped writing for a bit.
When do you feel stressed? How do you relax?