What is the Story with Your Stress Level?

Lisa Newburger, LISW-S
Lisa Newburger, LISW-S

Lisa Newburger, a master's level social worker supervisor, helps audiences find humor in talking about tough topics. Her "in-your-face" style of presentations and writing will make you smile or just shock you into taking some action. Either way, she is very effective at empowering others to reach their goals and feel better about themselves. Her entertaining workshops are available for national and international audiences. Writing for the dental industry since 2010, she uses an alterego (Diana Directive) to illustrate her points in a sarcastic but effective way. Presentations can be scheduled by contacting Lisa at www.discussdirectives.com/dental.html.

In stressful times, sometimes the best medicine is to step back, take a deep breath, and laugh about something.

Here are some questions to ask yourself…

  1. Are you drinking more alcohol?
  2. Has your weight gone up?
  3. Do you feel on edge?
  4. Do you dread going to work?
  5. Are you depressed?
  6. Are you anxious?
  7. Is sleep a problem for you?

We are living in an exceedingly difficult point in history. 15 months into a pandemic, we have had to cope with unbearable change. Some have lost jobs, lost loved ones, battled illness, and yet we still have so many unknowns ahead of us. I know it sounds odd, but not knowing what to expect in the future has taken its toll on us. 

Do not get me wrong, it has gotten better. We have made it to a point where we are administering vaccines. But, if we look across the pond at what is happening in India and other hot spots, the smothering feelings of anxiety creep in. We cannot let them. We must continue down the path we are on staying focused on the here and now. For those who are battling stress, know that you are not alone. Also, do not give up. It will get better.

I know you must be tired hearing about the pandemic. I agree. I am sick of it. But the stress our family, society, country, and the world are under is staggering. The key is to learn to cope with it.

So how do you cope with stress? Some of us are not doing a great job with this. We have turned to methods to self-medicate ourselves so that we do not feel. That might take the form of drugs/alcohol, risky behavior, and abusive behavior. Alcoholism and domestic violence are on the rise. These are not effective coping methods. So, what is?

I could sit here and tell you the same things Siri or Alexa will tell you. Yes, exercise, eat right, get enough sleep, blah blah blah. We all know that. But guess what? It does not help. Call me a naysayer, but I do not buy into that mantra. Here I am, an insomniac, and people are telling me to get more sleep. How am I supposed to do that? It is unbelievable how these same suggestions are made repeatedly with no understanding that I cannot control it.

Pulling from my professional opinion as a social worker and a people watcher, I recommend something I believe in more than anything else. That is to have fun. Live in the moment. Play. 

By laughing and distracting yourself, you can change everything. Stay focused in the moment instead of worrying about the future. Prepare for the future, but do not let fear get a stranglehold on you. 

It is time for new measures to battle this demon. Those measures need to be creative, customized to who you are, and attainable.

Whether you volunteer, hit a boxing bag, paint, escape into reading, or just sit watching your children on the playground, do it. Find ways to look forward to something and get excited. Plan something. Laugh at anything and everything you can find to laugh at. If that is making TikTok videos to one up your family and friends, then do it. Just take charge of your situation and life. It could be the difference between life and death.

One thing we all learned during this pandemic is that life is short. It can be taken in the blink of an eye. Live your life. Embrace your life. Get help when you need it and be open to new ideas. We have gotten this far, and we continue to race to the finish line. Just remember that change agitates stress. We all have had to adjust and look at us. We are all survivors of one of the most difficult years in our history.

If you are battling stress, email me at diana2@discussdirectives.com and share what unique things you do to keep it under control.