"Are you ok?" My mind begins to dart around all the possible ways I could answer this.
Should I answer honestly? "No, I'm not."
Should I say what they want to hear? "Yep."
Should I deflect? "Why, do I not look ok?"
Be passive-aggressive? "Why do you care?"
Should I be sarcastic? "So much!"
Should I ignore it? ...
It's OK to not be OK.
During times of significant change, uncertainty, or challenge, we experience STRESS. There are 2 types of stress: Eustress & Distress that cause us discomfort but with very different results. They both active our autonomic nervous system that prompts us to fight, flee, or freeze. Our brains become overloaded with hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine that kick in our sympathetic nervous system to put all of our sense on high alert. Our parasympathetic nervous system (that helps us calm the F down) is overwhelmed and we become hyper-focused, our blood pressure rises, adrenaline pumps, and thoughts race.
Think about a defensive lineman (Go Bucks!). Their job is to go out there and tackle people over and over again... and they like it. Me? I'm a cream puff and would not enjoy that one tiny bit. For the lineman, this task elicits eustress; for me, I feel distressed. A full calendar on the other hand? It energizes me and gets me out of bed ready to face the day! So what's the difference?
Your sharp focus and energy motivates you toward your goals. You may feel overwhelmed but not defeated. Read more here.
The hyper-awareness you feel floods you to where you feel like you're drowning and can't get a handle on where to start or what is even happening. Read more here.
The way you handle both types of stress depend on your ability to do the following. Try grading yourself in these areas from a scale of 0-10 (0=Super Terrible; 10=Super Amazing):
Recognize what is happening - How do you do identifying eustress or distress?
Identify supportive resources - How well do you identify who/what can help you?
Access supportive resources - How well do you manage asking for help?
Maximize resources - How well do you accept help?
Realistic evaluation - How well do you decide whether you succeed or fail?
Trust me, no one is a 10 on everything. Knowing where you have weaknesses can help you improve them so that when faced with stressful situations, you can experience more eustress than distress.
Consider this and how it may apply to you: