My tulips are not the only thing springing up this time of year. A theme has quickly emerged from my conversations with friends and clients. The theme is best expressed as….”I need help!”
I feel compelled to write about it because “help” can have a big impact on your health and wellbeing.
Mostly my conversations have highlighted a lack of help, but not because help is unavailable. It is a lack of help because we are simply not asking for it. For whatever reason, we can’t reach out and say “hey, I need a little help here!” We are trying to do it all….alone.
This negatively impacts your health by allowing stress to build up. This leads to overwhelm, which leads to more stress, and then comes more overwhelm (would that be extreme-whelm?). And the cycle continues.
When stress builds in your body, the heightened levels of cortisol begin to wreak havoc on your bodily systems, messing with blood sugar levels, emotions and your ability to cope. One specific area of the brain – the prefrontal cortex – is involved in higher thinking and executive control and regulation of emotions, impulses, desires, and cravings. Under stress, the prefrontal cortex is dampened, and the brain begins to rely on “automatic” behaviors and reward-based eating. You tend to just “go through life”, eating fatty and sugary foods and feeling odd body aches. You feel very drawn to the couch.
A client told me that she just couldn’t care for herself; there wasn’t time to do it. I asked her if there was anything in her life that she could hand off to someone else. At first, she said no, but as we talked, she came up with a full list of items (like loading the dishwasher). However, she was still very reluctant to ask for help with even the simplest tasks. Why?
Because she wanted people to need her. Because she wanted to be seen as capable of doing it all. Because she didn’t want to seem needy.
A friend told me how much she needed help at home. She felt great at work, but things were falling apart with the house. I asked her the same question. She didn’t ask her help because the “house was her responsibility”.
I wonder – what thoughts keep you from asking for help? Are they true or an idea that you are holding on to?
The end result was good – we figured out ways to overcome their self-limiting beliefs and to get support. To get there, however, we had to face the “so what” question:
So, what if you need help? So, what if the dishes get done by someone else? So, what if your child walks the dog? So, what if your family members take turns cooking dinner?
Asking “so what” puts things into perspective. There are many areas where help is easy to ask for (the task is small) and easy to come by. But the asking part, can still be hard. That’s where we faced the “What if” question:
What if you keep yourself overscheduled? What if you keep doing all the work? What if you keep working 18-hour days to get it all in? What if you don’t sleep well? What if you keep going at the pace you are currently going? What if you keep eating drive-through?
The “what if” question highlights that your health is in jeopardy. And by health, I mean all of it – – your body, your joy, your serenity.
Asking for help can be the simplest thing you can do to improve your quality of health and living. Don’t be afraid to ask. The worst a person can say is “no”; but guess what – if you don’t ask, it’s always a no. Yet I’ve found, that it is almost always a “yes”.
You can learn more about Cortisol and Stress in my book: Food, Feelings and Freedom: The End to Emotional Eating.