When you get stressed it can be hard to see a way out or a way to fix the problem. When that stress is bordering on, or full on swimming in, clinical depression, anxiety or pre-/post-natal depression it can feel hopeless and overwhelming.
With a little experience, experimentation and self awareness, personally I’ve been able to create strategies to make things a little easier. I’ve been able to work out how much is too much to take on, when to say no, and also when I really need to take on something to keep my mind working.
The problem comes when my coping techniques clash with someone else’s. This is something that came up most recently with Bear who is also going through hard times. In general life has thrown unemployment, pregnancy, moving, money troubles and health concerns at us all at the same time so stress is a pretty natural response.
However, whereas I find setting out what I need to do and getting it done bit by bit especially useful (it gives me a sense of purpose, stops me wallowing, & reminds me of my skills), this can overwhelm Bear and he tends to need to step back from the to-do list to let his mind rest. His coping techniques tend to use computer games or something technology-related and just a little time out.
The reason these two different methods clashed is because I saw things that needed his opinion and would ask in order to get them done. Bear would feel overwhelmed by the information and worry. If on the other hand Bear was taking time out I found it difficult to cope because my list would often depend a little on something I needed him to do, so I would watch time pass and worry.
It took one realisation and conversation to balance this out and support each others methods; it all centred on computer games.
Bear explained to me that when he, for example, played Civilisation, he felt in control, used his mind on a task he could complete and was rewarded by progressing and reaching certain goals. This time out meant he came back to everyday stuff feeling happier in himself.
What he said was familiar because I was treating tasks in my life in the same way. I would work at a small task, taking control of it, am rewarded by the feeling of purpose by reaching the conclusion of the task. I feel happier in myself knowing I have achieved the goals I set.
Simply by explaining these similarities we were able to work out how to support each other in order to stress less. We worked out a balance in order for me to proceed with my list whilst not overwhelming Bear.
This technique of making life a little more like a game has been spoken on and written about before but for us it was something we were already doing without knowing it. Of course things change and vary and we will still need to work on the balance but this helped.
It is something I would recommend: treating life as a bit of a game. Many bits of this are common sense: rewarding achievements, finding creative ways through a problem, working on tasks in small pieces. Life’s big things can of course get overwhelming but so is the idea of completing an entire game in one sitting. You don’t just set out to “win”, you work on small pieces and gradually get closer to the goal.
Only then can you be VICTORIOUS!