|As I walked into the preschool on Tuesday morning, I overheard some of the other moms talking about school picture day. That day, Connor just happened to be wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. Yes, I sent my preschooler to picture day in a four-year old, hand-me-down, long-sleeved Star Wars t-shirt. I thought about going home and getting him a change of clothes, but my schedule was already packed that day. I held it together as I dropped him off with his teacher, but as I walked out of the building the tears started to flow.
I felt so silly crying about such a ridiculous thing as a Star Wars t-shirt. But that’s not really where the tears were coming from. Last week, my hometown of Blountstown, FL, became a literal Disaster Zone when it took a direct hit from the eye of Hurricane Michael. The storm took out the power and cell phone service, and I didn’t hear from my parents for more than 24 hours after the storm had passed. I eventually learned that my family was safe, but that a friend from high school had passed away. The grief I was carrying over the destruction of my hometown and the loss of a friend was added to the everyday stresses of running a school fundraiser, a business, and a home.
The Star Wars t-shirt fiasco was just a trigger that erupted all the emotions that I had been holding in and brought them to the surface. I realize now that I needed to have a good cry to cleanse myself and let out all of my emotions. It’s something that I rarely do–in fact, I usually hold in my emotions as long as possible. I avoid watching or listening to anything sad, and often avoid hard subjects, just so that I don’t cry. I have this need to stay strong for other people, but also to prove to myself that I’m strong as well.
What I’ve been learning, though, is that when we bottle up all of our emotions and never get them out, there can be some serious consequences. It can cause issues in our productivity, sleep, health, and relationships.
In order to move forward in our lives, we have to let it out. And a good cry is one of the best ways to physically release the emotional stress from our bodies. Yes, I had an usually tough week emotionally, but even during our normal lives our every day stresses have the tendency to build up along the way, especially as we navigate the extra challenges that having an autoimmune disease gives us.
The thought that I need to purposely schedule in time to release stress from my body is new to me, so I started a list. Here are my top 7 ideas:
1. Have a good cry. Watch a sad movie (Steel Magnolias, anyone?) or listen to some sad music to set it off.
2. Gentle movement. Yoga, swimming, and walking are perfect activities to help you work off some of the stress. Moving outside in nature is a bonus!
3. Sex. Yep, I said it! Definitely a good way to release. 🙂
4. Talk it out with a friend. You don’t have to keep these burdens to yourself. You may even find it helpful to talk to a professional, like a therapist or life coach.
5. Write it out. It’s amazing what can pour out of your soul when you have a beautiful journal and a nice pen in your hand.
6. Take care of yourself. A bubble bath, pedicure, massage, or even a long shower can be very soothing.
7. Give yourself permission to let go. Crying it out doesn’t mean that you’re weak or ridiculous, or that you’re being a baby. It means that you’re human. It’s ok to take that superhero cape off and have a good cry.
*Thank you to my business coach/life coach/friend Michelle Moore for teaching me the importance of letting go and crying it out.