Handling Stress When It’s Overwhelming Is Easier Than You Might Imagine

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Want to know a secret? I don’t handle stress very well. I have several theories as to why – none of which are medically backed, medically diagnosed, or medically anything. I am not a doctor, and I gave up on Grey’s Anatomy when they killed off McDreamy (but I was kind of off that train a few seasons before) so my doctoral degree is lacking in a major way.

  • I like to be in control something fierce
  • I don’t have that much to be stressed about so it always surprises me
  • I like things my way

So, now you know I don’t handle stress very well and I’m an anal-retentive do-it-my-way-or-else kind of person. I’m making myself sound lovely, right? Anyway, I don’t handle stress well, which is why God gave me a husband who handles it like a champ. When things don’t go my way, I get all kinds of crazy. Seriously – all kids.

To the point my husband will basically kick me out of the house with a kiss and a, “Please don’t come back until you’ve gotten a massage or bought yourself something or taken out your frustration on someone else, mmmkay? Love you, bye,” and that’s that. He’s too good to me.

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I don’t handle stress very well, but only at first. Give me an hour or two, and I’m much more reasonable and much more capable of handling stress in a way that’s probably a lot more productive than fighting the overwhelming urge to throw something at something and scream loudly.

Therapists – thoughts on this one?

At the tender age of 33, I’ve learned that handling stress well isn’t something just anyone can do. I can’t change that I overreact and panic, but I can change how I handle myself when I’m handling stress. When life throws me lemons, I’ll get my shit together enough to add vodka eventually, but not until I practice a few very specific things to help me calm down and rationalize.

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Walk Away

I know me, and I know when I’m about to go off. I can feel it in my ears. Seriously. I can feel my ears turning red and beginning to burn when I’m made very angry or stressed beyond belief. Before, I might have lost my mind on whomever was unfortunate enough to have upset me, but I’ve learned being a rude bitch is not all that productive – I mean, it is, but I don’t want to be that crazy person.

Now I walk away. The second I feel my ears start to turn red and burn, I know where I’m going – out the door. I remove myself from the situation until I feel the heat leaving my body. It’s for the best.

Go For a Drive

One of the most therapeutic things I can do is go for a drive when I’m stressed. When I’m mad, nothing makes me feel better than getting in a car, putting the windows down, opening the sunroof, and turning the music up entirely too loud. It’s like therapy without a couch or a copay.

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It’s even better if I decide to take my husband’s car when I’m losing my mind. He has a little two-seater convertible, and I can put the top down and drive with the music up too loud. It feels better. It’s a manual transmission, too, so I feel powerful in it. It helps (just don’t forget to obey the law, please and thank you).

Take a Time Out

When my husband feels I’m stressed, he’ll plan a date night for us. He will get me out of the house for a time out in which we are not allowed to discuss anything stressful. We plan trips, we go shopping, we tell funny stories, and we laugh a lot. It helps.

Say a Prayer

When I’m calm enough to stop my anger, I say a prayer. If someone else is the cause of my anger, I’ll pray for them. If it’s me that’s causing my own stress or anger, I’ll say a prayer for me and give thanks that God put so many good people in my life who know me and know how to make me feel better.

Not handling stress well isn’t a shocking disclosure, and I imagine it’s something many of you also struggle with. Stress isn’t fun or easy, and it gets to us when it’s gone on long enough or when it’s exceptionally overwhelming. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s something we can all learn to work on together.

What do you do to handle your stress? I’d love a few more tips and tricks I might not already practice.


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