It’s all in the mind: Dealing with stress
Your Mind in a Fog
The psychologist William James stated that to an infant the world appears as “blooming, buzzing confusion.” Everything is new. You don’t know what to make of anything or how to react to it. You gain experience with your world as you grow up. Your mind uses what you learn to see patterns in various situations. In turn you learn how to react appropriately after a few tries. At least that’s the hope, although some people do a better job making sense of themselves and their world than others do. Here is what chronic stress does to your mind:
- When you weary of stress, any exertion can make your body feel like it is slogging through molasses. Your mind feels the same way when it is overtaxed.
- Your thinking becomes unpredictable and you can’t count on your mind to stay focused.
- You can’t rely on your mind to sort out problems or perhaps even make sense of them.
- Organizing the facts involved, seeing your options and deciding on the correct course of action all become more difficult.
- You can’t seem to get your mind in gear as if you have become paralyzed mentally.
The amount of stress you feel varies from one moment to the next and from one situation to another. Perhaps something distracts you from the stress and your mind functions a little better at least for a while.
Then the stress returns to your awareness and you again fumble with your thoughts. You feel like you are on a mental roller coaster, sometimes thinking clearly and sometimes lost in a jumble of disconnected thoughts.
With your mind in a state of confusion, you have trouble knowing what is going on around you and you are not sure you can trust what you see and hear. You might slip back into experiencing your world with the baby’s blooming buzzing confusion. If you are not sure what is going on, it will surely be hard for you to react appropriately to the situation in which you find yourself.
It’s like walking into a room where everyone is arguing with everyone else. You don’t know what, if anything, you should pay attention to. Words fly at you and you have trouble making sense of them. If someone took you aside and asked you which opinion made sense to you, how easy is it for you to form your own opinion while the shouting continues at full tilt?
Under stress, you can feel bewildered, even without anyone else present. You can see that uncertainty follows closely on the heels of confusion and you might like to take a break while you sort it all out. Yet in times of high or sustained stress, you don’t always have the option to put the matter aside and ponder it for a while.
If you can’t make sense of the situation, you are left with a sense of confusion and unpredictability as well. You have no idea what will happen next. How do you prepare for the unknown? You can’t tie up what you experience in a neat bundle and put it aside while you go on with your life. Instead you remain off balance, not quite sure how to react.
(Excerpt from Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life)