I'm in a long-term relationship that I can't break up from

I’ve been in a long-term relationship all of my teen and adult life. Can you guess with who? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not a who, it’s a what.

Stress. Yes, stress has been my companion for as long as I can remember. Sometimes stress got lonely and wanted to invite some friends over – enter anxiety and sometimes depression.

The combination of stress, anxiety, and depression over time makes life challenging.

To be quite frank, I really struggled at times.

Stress can be sneaky… let me paint the picture.

Imagine you have a basement in your house. You go into the basement to grab something you need and you notice a little bit of water on the floor. You take a mental note to look at that later. As time goes by the water becomes more and more of a problem. It’s becoming more obvious that something needs to be addressed. But you’re busy and keep forgetting to look into it. Until one day you go into the basement and the water is up to your knees. Now you’re feeling anxious. This is a little bit more than you want to deal with at the moment. You head back upstairs. A few days later the water is up to your chest. Now you’re depressed. This is way too much to deal with. Your body basically shuts down.

It all started with a little bit of water on the floor… a little bit of stress. It turned into anxiety and then depression as the water level rose higher and higher.

Here’s the thing. Stress can hang out for a long time and we won’t recognize it. Like I said, it’s sneaky.

May is mental health awareness month, so I intentionally paid attention to my stress levels. I learned something else about myself this month. Guilt.

Guilt joined the party as well!

In moments of stress I took care of myself, and I felt the guilt creeping in. The guilt said, “Who do you think you are to take care of yourself when everybody else around you is still working hard even though they’re stressed?”

I responded, “I’m going to take care of myself based on what I need, not what I think society expects of me.”

YES! That’s right - you go girl! Tell guilt your truth.

I swear I’m not crazy even though I have these conversations with myself.

Because stress is sneaky, I want to break it down for you.

I did some research looking at definitions, specifically at the connection between stress and mental health. I like this one from Mind in the UK –

“Stress is how we react when we feel under pressure or threatened. It usually happens when we are in a situation that we don't feel we can manage or control.”

When the stress gets to be too much… overwhelm shows up too. There are signs to look for before the water level gets too high including but not limited to:

  • Irritable

  • Anxious

  • Depressed

  • Loss your sense of humor

  • Panic attacks

  • Fatigue

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Unable to make decisions

  • Hard to concentrate

  • Grind your teeth or clench your jaw

Stress isn’t the bad guy, trust me. It’s just a physiological response to the pressure we feel in our lives. It’s normal.

We’re built to take on stress. It’s how we learn what we can tolerate. Stress is important (in my opinion) because it’s our early warning system.

Stress becomes a problem when we live with it day after day with no relief. It can cause mental and physical problems.

What do you do if you’re stressed? Connect with someone you trust.

This can feel like a big move. We make ourselves vulnerable to another person by letting them know we aren’t OK. This isn’t the norm for most people. We’re trained to stand strong, tough it out, and don’t be a wimp! But that position in life will isolate and break us down eventually.

We’re meant to connect with one another. Our nervous systems are designed to co-regulate with other people. Find that person, either personal or professional, that helps you bring your nervous system out of a stressed state.

Why? I’m so glad you asked!

After we move through the stress, we’re able to make decisions, see things with more clarity, listen to other people, and maybe even sleep better and go to the bathroom on a regular schedule.

It’s a big deal for our health and well-being.

It’s such a big deal to me that I’m offering my May Mental Health package. It’s a six-session package with coaching and mentoring. Click here to let me know you’re interested.

In health and wellness,


P.S. I’m moving my Monday evening yoga class to Wednesday evenings. Still at 5:30 pm mountain time and available online. I have a new location for those who would like to join in person. You can find me at 1910 N 22nd Ave, Ste 1, Bozeman, MT 59718. Sign up Here.

P.S.S. Contact me here to learn more about the May Mental Health six-session package. It’s available to purchase until May 31st.

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