For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with chest pain. At first, I thought it was because I had been working my upper body too hard at the gym. But oddly, the symptoms were worse at night. I would be sitting on the couch and get a sensation that my chest was tight, sore, and weighed down.
After a week or so, I started to notice that the pain would creep up during my day. In fact, I can feel it as I type this.
I started to panic and feel worried. I made a doctor’s appointment. Then, I started to talk to various people about it. And people started to open up about their own experiences with this, explaining that in all of their cases, this was a symptom of anxiety.
Huh, I thought. Anxiety. This really felt like a chest issue to me…certainly it wasn’t related to all of my stress. Or was it?
I’m realizing that in my case, it is in fact, anxiety. It’s wild that while we can talk our minds through stressful times, the body knows the stress too and that manifests itself in some very real and challenging ways.
I’m learning to talk to myself in ways that keep my mind as clear as possible. I coach myself up when needed. I remind myself, “Girl, we do not have time for that” and move forward. I mentally work to take it one step at a time.
But I think the body is a bit more complex because while I’m mentally making things work, my body is holding onto all of it at one time. So, I’m trying to notice how I’m feeling. I’m stretching more, working on breathing deeply, and I’m trying something else that is new for me.
I pay attention to how I’m feeling in situations. If the tv is on, and I feel stressed, I switch the channel or turn it off. It will be no surprise to you that chest pain seems to appear during the news lately. If I’m listening to a book while I’m driving and my chest feels tight, I turn it off and drive in silence or listen to relaxing music.
And if I feel it more with certain people or groups of people, I ask myself whether I need less time with those people. If I do, and if I can find a way, I take that time away.
Maybe this has never happened to you. I’m writing this to let others know that they are not alone if it’s happening to them.
We cannot be good for others if we are not good for ourselves. An escalated adult cannot deescalate a child or any situation for that matter.
Be good to yourselves, educators. We need you, and you deserve peace.
How might you give yourself the time, space, and strategies you need when you feel overwhelmed or overworked?