The Answer to Your Stress: Asking for Help

Recovering from a sickness and becoming accustomed to a new job has been a little bit of a stress overload for me. Like, I’m supposed to be an awesome new employee + write for this blog + write features for other blogs + catch up with my friends and family + practice self-care, all while feeling like my stomach’s a wavepool? Can I even do that when I’m not sick?

I kept thinking of that Sarah Jessica Parker movie I Don’t Know How She Does It. Which no, I didn’t see, and yes, I laughed openly at the trailer. It was actually a pretty weird reference for my brain to keep pulling, out of all the media I’ve consumed over the course of my 20-something years.

It came, I’m sure, from me internally saying to myself: I don’t know how I do it. And so now I’ll ask you…do you know how you do it?

And a better question: Why do we do it?

The huge cultural emphasis on being busy makes us think this constant hustling and catching our breath is normal; and not only normal, but expected. We’re supposed to be able to do everything (on time, perfectly, and by ourselves).

But it’s damaging. We’re overwhelming ourselves. We’re taking the fun out of our passions and cluttering up our mind with schedules and deadlines, and sometimes we’re just straight up dropping responsibilities all together, because procrastination and avoidance is the only way we know how to deal with not being able to handle our tasks.

So let me ask you this: when was the last time you asked someone for help?

There are a lot of reasons we don’t ask for help. There’s the fear of burdening others. The fear that we’ll look weak. The fear that we’ll look silly asking for help, because our problems and responsibilities aren’t half as overwhelming as other people’s.

But here’s the weird thing: those fears aren’t grounded in any truth.

A Psychology Today article titled, “Friendship: The Laws of Attraction” shares the following research:

In one classic study, participants won “contest money” from a researcher. Later the researcher approached some of them and explained he’d actually used his own money and had little left; could he have the money back? Most agreed. Later, the researchers found, those asked to do the favor rated the researcher more favorably than those not approached.

So, the people who received free money liked this guy less than the ones that were asked to give the free money back. Kind of weird, right?

The article suggests that the outcome implies that we believe that our choice to go out of our way to help someone means that he or she must be worth helping, which makes us like them more.

But I think it’s more than that. I think we all want to feel wanted by people. We want to feel like another person trusts us and views us as capable enough to help them. We want to be the person that someone thinks of when she is really stuck, and needs someone reliable and dependable to lean on.

Think about the fears that you have associated with asking for help. Now think of the last time someone asked you for help. Did you think that person was weak? Incompetent? Irresponsible? Probably not. So if you asked someone for help, why would that person think those things of you?

I’m willing to bet you’ve got some amazing people in your life. When you’re stressed and overwhelmed and ready to pull your hair out, remember that they are there to help you. They want to help you. It might even make them like you more if you ask them to help you.

You don’t have to do it all by yourself.

And hey, maybe that’s the moral of that Sarah Jessica Parker movie. I’ll never know, because I’ll never watch it. But it could’ve been good. But probably not. But I’ll probably still think about it every time I’m stressed to the point of saying in my head, “I don’t know how I do this,” so who’s really the loser here?