STRESS SUCKS! There I said it!
I thought I never really suffered much with stress, but that’s the thing with some stressors, we can have it as a constant low lying level that just simmers away in the background, then eventually you wake up one day and feel overwhelmingly exhausted and have to force yourself to just stop, breathe and rejuvenate.
As an ex-busy rushing woman with a type ‘A’ personality and a ‘doing’ attitude (can you guess this was my big stress driver?), over the years, I have actively put daily practices and strategies in place to keep these levels at bay. Which for the most part has been very successful. But sometimes life throughs you curve balls.
These curve balls can throw you for six and leave you reeling, which has been something that I have been dealing with over the last several months. A big life curve ball! The thing that has surprised me the most, is I thought I was keeping everything under control, but then my body and mind went into ‘freeze’ response and I felt overwhelmed, unable to think clearly, stuck and almost powerless.
Big stressors and trauma can do this to you…..
Instead of accepting this, I let it frustrate me, as I just wanted to get on with it, but I couldn’t, which only added to my bodies stress response ( remember adrenaline and cortisol?) and created a lot of unnecessary anxiety within (hello, perception of added pressure!)
So the vicious cycle began!
But the moment I decided to just surrender to it all, that to accept so much was out of my control, then to get clear on what it was I could control and do, this then helped me regain the strength to move forward. Remember we can cannot control what others do, think or say, we can only control how we reacted to them or show up in the world.
So I’ve been working through things, accepting that it’s OK to feel this way, it doesn’t mean I have to like it, but fighting it is NOT helping. I’m ok, and I am well and truly on track to regaining my strength and grounding.
To paraphrase from the opening paragraph of ‘The Road Less Travelled’ by M Scott Peck-
“Life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.”
The tips I want to share with you below are tools that have worked for me. I do hope something here resonates with you and as I always say, find what works for you and take one step at a time.
So here is what works for me:
1. Diaphramic breathing and meditation- Taking deep diaphramic breathes can be one of the simplest yet most powerful tools to can do for your health, yet it’s something we don’t give enough credit too. Take notice of your breath- is it all up in your chest? Is it short and sharp? Do you often feel breathless? Do you find yourself holding your breath? If you are not breathing correctly and not getting enough oxygen and blood circulating all around your body, this will keep your body in the constant state of stress and a huge depleted of energy. Take deep belly breaths, diaphramically.
Meditation is a practice that I have been doing for many years now, but not without its challenges. I thought you had to be all serene and your mind empty. The minute I learnt this is not the case, you can’t control your thoughts, just breathing into them and quieting them, this all changed for me. I will share my favourite meditation apps and resources with you next week.
2. Yoga- preferably restorative/yin. High impact exercise will only aggravate and already stress body, so gentle yoga has helped me keep my blood and muscles moving, stimulating my organs and giving me the feeling of being grounded and strong. You can google free yoga session online or go to a class. Look for Yin or Restorative yoga.
3. Seeking support– For me, talking with trusted loved ones, lots of hugs and having someone by my side (big shout out to my amazing hubby….Love you!). I’m a talker, so this has been essential for me to talk it out. Also I have an amazing Reiki healer who has been helping me shift any negative energy that my body has been holding onto. I have considered counselling but feel I am on track to recovery, but if you need to seek this help, please do. Lifeline is a free and wonderful support for anyone in need. You can call 131114.
4. Chiropractor– you may be thinking, “What?” Many postures and defensive tensions arise from anxiety and stress. Stress of a psychological or emotional nature can produce marked changes in the muscular-skeletal system, profoundly influencing the overall functioning of the body. My jaw, neck and shoulders have been extremely tense, especially my jaw overnight (bad dreams!) and my lower base spine. There are many great Chiropractors and Osteopath who get the whole holistic experience on the body and I am lucky to have a wonderful practitioner who understands this.
Check out SD Protocol here; http://www.sdprotocol.com.au/
5. Remove/ minimise stimulants– I don’t drink coffee, never have, so coffee has not been an issue for me, but alcohol or whatever your choice of stimulant could be, will only drive your body to produce more stress. Now I know you can often look for these things during challenging times, to either give you energy( caffeine) or numb your thoughts (hello ½ bottle of wine a night!), but I can assure you, long term, it is only adding to the effects of stress, not subsiding it. So no wine or vodka for me!
6. Sleep– This has been challenging at times, but I have been using a strong dose of an herbal remedy and really making sleep as much of a priority as I can. Meditation and restorative yoga have helped with this, also the 4-7-8 breath I shared with you in my first post and making sure I’m tucked up in bed nice and early and no social media at night.
7. Self-care– Nice long baths, walks, trips to the seaside, no matter what the weather (I do love being in or by water, the calming effects this gives me is profound.) Resting my body when I can rather than pushing through. Lots of cuddles and kisses with my daughter/hubby and reading or gardening. This is what works for me- do what works for you.
8. Scale back & simplify– All my clients will contest to this strategy! When you’re overwhelmed emotionally, physically or perceptively, then just scale back your life as much as possible. This will give you the space and time to simply breathe. Don’t be afraid to say No or cancel/reschedule if you have to. Just remove overwhelm and listen to what you body and soul needs.
9. Eat as healthy as possible– I have had many moments of not feeling hungry at all, which is HUGE for me, I love my food but I know my body on a cellular level needs energy and the only way it can receive this is by eating real food, so no junk food or takeaway, doesn’t have to be fancy or much, just simple and real.
10. Removing any negativity from my life that I can control– this includes watching/reading the news- filled with such negative images and stories! Minimising or avoiding social media and any negative people or situations that I can in my life.
These are tools and strategies that are helping and have helped me over the years. I’m not saying this will all work for you, but if you are going though stressful times, then try one or some of the tools that resonate with you. For anyone going though or has experienced any kind of trauma, make sure you seek the help you need. Going through difficult times doesn’t mean you need to go it alone. There is wonderful support our there and I encourage you to be courageous and seek this support out.
Next week I will share with you just what some of these supports and resources are. But until then, please stay happy, healthy and grounded!