Tears started welling up quickly the other day. It was the end of a long, stressful time in life. Tension and stress that built up over a prolonged period and had not yet found a place to release. Tears had not yet found their way to my eyes, but I knew they were coming, I wasn’t sure when, but I knew it was a matter of time.
Our bodies are adaptable to great levels of stress. I read a book once about using stress for success. Adapting and essentially using stress as a catalyst. Which it can be. Like anger, it can propel us into action. But what is really driving that ship? Most commonly it’s the avoidance of a negative consequence. Or, as with anger, it can be driven from hurt.
I’ve gone down quite a few rabbit holes researching to effects of stress. Yes, it can drive you into action. But while it was formerly an intangible condition, medical experts are now saying that consistent exposure to high levels of stress can lead to a myriad of health conditions. Immune system issues, high blood pressure, weight problems, anxiety, the list is lengthy. So, while you may outwardly adapt, your body is keeping track. It absorbs the stress and the consequences may be unseen but are slowly deteriorating your health.
When the tears started forming, they weren’t over anything catastrophic. They were the outward evidence of the culmination of stress in my body. What did they start over? A Wi-Fi router. Really. A router that stopped working for me unexpectedly. That I needed to watch television, my recent friend and escape. When I discovered it wasn’t working, the tears involuntarily started, and were vastly disproportionate to the situation at hand.
The tears weren’t about the router. Just like when you snap at someone when you’re stressed, or lash out, it’s only a symptom of the underlying stress. We can hold only so much inside before it spills out and it’s usually something little that does it.
When you’re in a period of stress that seemingly ends, one would hope you could instantly return to life as normal. It doesn’t work that way. I was thinking about the unwinding of stress within the body and was reminded of Scuba Divers. When they’ve been in the depths for a long period of time, they cannot return to the surface quickly. A diver who rises to quickly risks decompression sickness, typically known as the bends, which is described as “a condition arising from dissolved gases coming out of solution into bubbles inside the body on depressurization,” (Wikipedia)
The unravelling happens over time, it must. If we push the pace, we heal, but it takes longer and we might get the bends which you only avoid by rising to the surface slowly. As stress slowly fades away, you find that you’re stronger. You’ve allowed the stress to leave your body and healed. You can’t rush that process, it’ll happen on its own with some intentionality. Self-care, some TV binging maybe (just saying…not a long-term solution but it can help!), a period of readjustment. One day, you’ll wake up and feel different, a shift. You’ll realize that you feel whole again, stronger and happier. Love yourself on the journey and love others you meet along the path. Happiness is right around the corner.