One of the overarching challenges of living with schizophrenia is balancing demands. These could be anything from doing laundry to homework to balancing family relationships. Stress is seemingly a constant in our everyday lives, and it affects us whether we like it or not. Most of the things that cause me stress have to do with impending deadlines. On top of these deadlines, there is the aspect of guilt that’s inherent if you fail to get these things done on time.
This essay itself is the effect of that guilt. I know that if I don’t get this and several other essays done by the middle of this month, I won’t get paid and I won’t be able to support myself. Suffice it to say that I, like most everyone else, have some degree of stress in my life. The thing about stress when you have a mental illness, though, is that it could mean the difference between a breakdown and healthy coping.
How to lower stress
It’s all how you manage that stress. I can recall moments in my recovery when the stress was too much, when it piled up too high burying me in a mound of insecurity and delusional thinking. I started to obsess about things like the bump on my lip, thinking it was cancer, or the girl I liked, thinking she had put a tracker on my car. I worried so much about stuff that didn’t seem to have a basis in reality that I added to my stress and got to the point where I broke and considered ending my life. It’s for that reason that I feel like it’s important to manage and hopefully limit stress, and there are several ways you can do that.
First, you have to be conscious about the things that are happening in your life and the things that you are taking on. You have to take into account the things you are doing and the possible repercussions of increasing your workload to the point where you can’t handle it. It pains me to say that mostly just keeping things in balance, taking care of myself and finishing the little work I have to do maxes out my stress reserves. I wish I could do more but I just can’t.
The second thing you can do to manage stress is to take time for yourself in between your bouts of being super busy. This is called self-care, and it’s becoming a trend among millennials. Essentially you have to treat yourself well to get back on the track of performing at your best. I know this intimately. If I don’t take a few days to myself every now and again or if I don’t get the chance to get a good rest at the end of my day, I feel messed up and I worry about things that don’t have a basis in reality. I start to think things are stacked against me and that people are persecuting me. It’s a very odd mindset and not one that I recommend.
Finally, one of the biggest things you can do to limit your stress is to break down your tasks into manageable chunks that you can do easily and build up from there. I know that if I have four essays to do in one week, I have to take each one as itself and take breaks between writing. Sometimes I can’t write, so I just have to start with one sentence, hell even one word. I know that if I just keep writing eventually I’ll find my flow, but I have to take small steps and build something cohesive out of maybe just a sentence. Overall, it’s important to be conscious of the things you’re taking on, it’s important to practice self-care and take time for yourself, and it’s important to break big things down into little chunks. With these three things stress doesn’t have that strong of a hold on you.