I’m not stressed. Am I? Oh no.
Stress isn’t always easy to recognize and many of us miss the signs our bodies and minds give us. So, we turned to Firefly team members for insight, asking them how stress shows up for them and how they manage it. In this conversation, you’ll hear from several Firefly team members:
What does stress look like for you?
Jennifer: For me, stress manifests itself in an upset stomach, migraines, tight neck muscles, insomnia, and generally feeling unsettled.
Ely: Stress feels like cold, wet clothing on my body. All I want to do is remove it. It mostly lays on my shoulders but also the crown of my head and my gut. As I age, however, I get comfortable with the discomfort and strategize how to remove the sopping mess!
Matthew: I stress about things I can't control or resolve right away. For example, I just got new tenants and the AC and dishwasher broke. I stress out about how it negatively impacts them. It makes my mind race. I lose sleep and it impacts how my body feels.
Carolyn: Feeling scatterbrained. Tension in my chest and stomach. Looping, anxious thoughts.
What’s your biggest source of day-to-day stress?
Jennifer: Number one is worrying about my child in college. Two is my aging parents. Three is making relevant, significant contributions in my work.
Ely: Right now, it's being a driver for my kids. Can I get them to practice on time? Have they eaten? Do they have their gear? Also, my dad's health. My vision or plan for his care doesn’t always match his. Respecting his autonomy and advocating for his safety is a hard balance.
Matthew: Finances are a big thing at the moment. We had an unexpected tax burden last year. I play out scenarios every day to figure out ways to pay off this debt. It’s slowly getting done and I know it will get resolved, but it’s unsettling.
Carolyn: In moments of high stress, the source is often an urge to try to control something that isn't mine to control. Or being on the receiving end of a big boundary violation. Or feeling as though I've given too much of my power away.
How do you keep stress in check during intense moments?
Jennifer: Lots of deep breathing. And I mean LOTS! Alone time also helps, whether reading a book, meditating, taking a walk, trying a new face mask, or going skating.
Ely: I didn't always do this, but as I age, I’ve found it most helpful to pause and breathe. Inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly tones down that fight-or-flight response. Even 10 seconds can be enough for me to be able to approach a tough task.
Matthew: I tell myself that this is out of my control and thinking about it won’t accomplish anything. I also take some deep breaths, drink water, write my thoughts down, and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel this way.
Carolyn: Breathing, assessing my internal state, identifying triggers, self-compassion, sharing how I feel with a safe and trustworthy person, and visualization.
How do you keep stress in check over the long haul?
Jennifer: As I get older, I turn more to meditation with an app. I also get on my rower and treadmill daily. Exercise and meditation lower my heart rate and blood pressure and help prepare me for the day. I journal too. It gets the stress out of me and onto the paper.
Ely: I wish I could say I’ve found the best answer. Right now, it’s about daily movement. Keeping it simple by stretching or walking various times during the day. It gets my body in motion and separates me from my tasks so I can come back refreshed.
Matthew: Movement, hydration, nutrition, and spending time with my girlfriend are key. Making sure I keep my physical and emotional well-being in check really goes a long way.
Carolyn: I invest in my well-being daily. That could mean fresh air and sunlight, moving my body, cooking nutritious meals, hugging my sons (a lot!), honest conversations with my husband, or time with my dog. I also try to give my attention to things that add value to my life (a great novel) rather than things that leave me feeling anxious (the news!).
When you just need to treat yourself, what do you do?
Jennifer: A massage is my rare, special treat. I wish I could afford them more often!
Ely: I like to be alone with a hot cup of coffee or tea, sometimes with a journal and my favorite Energel pen. Being by myself is a very big treat!
Matthew: My girlfriend and I love to watch various TV shows along with a healthy snack. Cooking something amazing also works!
Carolyn: I love a good massage!
Turn to your care team for help managing stress
We make it easy to get support when you’re stressed. Here’s how it works. (Not a Firefly member? Sign up today.)
Step 1. Contact your care team.
Book a video visit or chat with us in the app. Let’s say you send a message saying, “Hey, I need help. I’m stressed about my job and losing sleep and I can’t shut my mind off.”
Step 2. Complete a quick screening.
We’ll ask you a few questions to figure out if this is typical stress or if there’s something else in the mix, like depression or anxiety. It takes 5 minutes, tops.
Step 3. Follow your care plan.
For stress, this means working with your health guide on practical ways to manage it. If it’s more than stress, your behavioral health specialist will help guide you to the right care.
Step 4. Expect to hear from us. Often.
We’ll check in regularly to see how we can best support you. That’s what it means to have continuous care — we’re here for you when and how you need us to be.
Contact your care team in the Firefly Health app.