Could your world spill out of your bag?
I’m not going to collude with you – you bring about your own stressors by the choices you make. I don’t wish to sound uncompassionate but it’s the truth. However, that’s for another time.
Stress is a response by the body, mind or spirit to either too much or too little PRESSURE. We all need ‘stress’ in a positive sense; it’s what gets us up in the morning; out to work; off on holiday; everyday tasks; it keeps us bouncing around all day. What we don’t need is too much.
Come and get it…..
How much is too much? That depends on each individual; some can absorb lots more than others. We each have a responsibility to ourselves to understand our parameters. We don’t need to try and match everyone else.
Since we all have some stress in our lives it’s worth knowing a very simple little equation as to how stress materializes:
“Stress = High Demands + High Constraints + Low Support, therefore, an excess of demands over the individuals ability to meet them gives and we have the Outcome – ‘Dis-Stress’”
It this YOU?
SYMPTOMS OF DIS-STRESS
So what are the symptoms you ask! Simply put they come under four headings:
- Loss of self-worth which covers; Low self-esteem; depression; withdrawal; lack of confidence.
- Loss of control covering; Confusion; compulsive behaviour; weepiness; irritability; difficulty in completing tasks; de-motivation.
- Loss of health body reactions these cover; Headaches; tension in muscles; indigestion; a backache; palpitations; high blood pressure; unaccountable pains and more.
- Loss of the ability to relax covering; Inability to sleep properly; waking too early; not able to settle to any one activity; can’t stay still; not easy to relax with others.
Most of all, each of these can be broken down further but starting somewhere maybe all anyone needs….Do any of the above strike a chord with you if so now maybe the time to start to take back control. Not easy but small steps and don’t beat yourself up if you go backward occasionally – you can do it!
My Stress Journey – the big adventure….
I had a very big meltdown in my early 30’s which took me on my path to where I am now. I was a busy mom, a full-time manager in social services, young son, completing the 2nd degree, marriage disintegrating and I dropped my handbag. That was the point my life shattered, and I had a breakdown – yes that’s all it took my world spilling out of my handbag across the floor and my life forever more changed.
Just gauge the state of your handbag/manbag with the state of your mind and well-being. It changed for the better (although it took me a while to realise that!) and my journey into who I took a new pathway and I never looked back. After several months of talking therapy, I began my search with extra help from my favourite mnemonic – 5WH when; where; why; who; what; how. It began with re-learning our lost skills.
What I was told 6 years later by my brilliant psychiatrist was that I was one of the sanest women she had met but I needed to learn to say ‘NO’ more often and believe in my capabilities.
When does it all start?
Remember; babies aren’t born with ‘stress’ we chuck it all over them layer upon layer just like the skin of an onion….set them up to fail and wonder why we have troubled and dysfunctional youngsters.
Is this you? (Tick each that may apply – source )
* persistent tiredness; exhaustion
* deliberate avoidance of things that need doing
* bodily tension, leading to headaches, migraines, upset stomach
* sleep problems; either can’t sleep or sleeping too much
* loss of appetite or increased eating of ‘comfort foods.’
* too much to do; no motivation to get started
* mind in a whirl; can’t think straight, concentrate or work effectively
* feeling under pressure; no time; often in a panic
Sometimes these symptoms can indicate a medical problem, and it is worth checking this out with your GP, but if you are looking for ways to manage your stress levels it is worth considering some of the things you can do for yourself at home.
So, where to start if you decide to break free of the ‘stress’ cycle? My suggestion would be:
Because we have often lived and still live busy lifestyles we have forgotten the skill of RELAXING. However, the good news is that it is possible to re-learn this skill and benefit from it. There are a variety of ways to relax, and it is worth exploring several to find out which suits you.
REMEMBER – Thinking about Relaxation will often make you feel more tense, if this happens, please don’t give up, as it does take time and practice like any other skill you may try and develop.
FIRSTLY – you need to remember that it is o.k. to take a short time for yourself each day to practice, it also gives you the time to rest, thus enabling your body to slow down and re-energise.
SECONDLY – you will need to think about each part of your body in turn and spot where the tensions are, (when was the last time you gave conscious thought to your poor toes? Just wait I have a blog coming up just about feet!).
DON’T FEEL GUILTY TAKING, THIS TIME, YOU DESERVE IT. BE NICE TO YOURSELF AND ENJOY !!!!.
Spotting the tensions will come quickly with practice. Try tensing and relaxing various parts of your body, feel the difference between the two stages. With practice, you will be able to identify tension quickly and its causes, and also releases tension without too much conscious effort.
GUIDELINES FOR RELAXATION.
1.) Get to know when and why you get tense and make changes in your lifestyle where possible.
2.) Spot tension at an early stage; get to know where your body gets too tense and what triggers it. Use this as a signal to deal with it and put into practice your new techniques
3.) Relax – Practice as often as you need it, not just at the end or the beginning of each day. Use what you learn and slowly you will become able to relax just by thinking about it. Don’t at any point force yourself take it gently and slowly – be kind to you.
4.) When you have found a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for a length of time ( you know who might!) turn off ‘phone’s and computers, so the sound is minimized. Some people lie on a bed; others sit in a chair or on the floor. Then off you go. (After a time you will learn to switch off and relax in noisy places!!!!)
5.) KEEP PRACTICING – How will you keep going? It takes a time to break old habits like tension. It might seem too difficult at times, keep going, YOU WILL GET BETTER AND BETTER.
Quick on the spot Exercise
There are many approaches to stress reduction through relaxation, and no one method is right for everyone or in every setting.
Here’s a quick exercise I learned years ago that helped me; many students use in all sorts of situations:
- Sit up and back in your chair spine straight so that you feel firmly rooted, legs slightly apart, feet flat on the floor.
- Close your eyes, Taking a deep breath in drop your shoulders each time you breath out slowly. Just focus on the breath, in for a count of 3/4 hold for a pause, breathe out to the count of 3/4 and repeat for a few minutes.
- Begin to imagine yourself relaxing more each time you breathe in and the tensions flowing away with every out breath.
- Finally, when you bring yourself back be mindful of how you are sitting nicely relaxed and feel the difference in comparison to when you began.
Learning to relax is invaluable if you get anxious and remember not just breathing can help, but Meditation/Tai Chi/Swimming/Yoga great techniques that can support stress reduction to – get out there and find that works for you.
Yes, our lives can be stressful and pressured. It’s difficult to imagine finding the time and energy to do something about it. However, it is worth the relatively small amount of effort it takes to learn some relaxation techniques. Relaxation is a ‘transferable skill’ which will not only serve you well in exams, presentations or interviews but also at the dentist or in any other stressful setting, or as a way of helping you to get to sleep.
Enjoy the rest of your journey in a less stressful Mind and Body
Until next time