Let's talk about stress!!!
Stress is one of those things, some of it is good for us, but too much stress and we wind up rollercoastering down the slippery slope of losing grip of our lives.
The world that we live in, has made a full time occupation out of handing us stress filled lives. The knock on effect of this is that we have to go and find methods and ways to alleviate this stress.
Your mobile phone, the laptop, your ipad, the tv, social media (all of it), e-mails, forums, the newspaper (stories can cause distress) etc. You name it these things can all create low level stress if our engagement with these things is not checked. We live in a 24 hour world, you can be shopping at 3 in the morning if you want to.
Okay the bottom line is that we live faster, more informed and completely more plugged in lives than our predecessors. Not to say that life was not good then, however, we have information at our fingers tips and we can very quickly make changes in our lives.
Back in the day if you needed to find out something you couldn’t just tap it into google and say voila I have the answer. No, you were heading down the library and researching that thing!!! Or if you wanted a new washing machine it would not be delivered to you at the click of a button from your own home.
I would wager that we access more information in a day than they used to in a year back in the 1950’s. The digital age has created constant information that we are continually wired to.
The truth is that we are on the go all of the time. I remember a colleague of mine saying one time that she’d hardly had any sleep the night before because her phone kept ringing. Now I put my phone on silent at night. I have a landline and if people need me urgently, that’s what they are going to call.
Having your phone with you all the time messes up the natural rhythm of your body, this rhythm helps you to know when you are hungry, when you are thirsty and when you are tired. Not taking care of these needs is a real stress accumulator. You may not notice the effects right now. However when you get older, illness, symptoms and dysfunction that you feel, may have been directly related to you not taking care when the warning signs came up. For example: If you live on 4 hours a sleep a night the cumulative effect of this is going to be burn out at some point.
In short some of the things that we engage in, can create a drip effect. The drip effect is low level stress, which if left unchecked will send you over a cliff eventually because it creeps up on you and it’s very difficult to curtail once it has gained momentum.
The majority of us do not recognise low level stress when it is building up. Plus it's easy to take a pill when you have that headache, ignore that tiny pain in your side. Push all the warning signals to the back of your mind and just push on.
That’s fine, and pretty normal, when you're looking after yourself. However, most of us push on when we ought to stop. I know the signs and I know how easy it is to fall into this trap. To protect yourself, you can learn to manage this.
Check these out:
Do you eat breakfast
Do you sleep at a decent time and get enough sleep
Do you eat regularly throughout the day
Do you drink enough water
Do you practice self care
Do you practice love towards your self (I have a course on this if you need it)
Do you snack on the go
Do you overeat
Do you eat healthy food or stuff yourself full of junk food just to get by
Are you relying on caffeine to keep you functional
Do you try to do the things above, but fail
Are you constantly thinking the worst
Do you invite drama into your life
Do you exercise
Are you prone to unnecessary worry
Now you’re probably wondering how these are the warning signs. Surely, it’s when you get sick and push on, or when you get overwhelmed at work? Well, actually no, because this is when you are already stressed.
The warning signs above are messages: If we are not aware and we drop the ball on looking after ourselves, we create the conditions in which stress can thrive.
The objective is not to let stress thrive, prevention rather than cure is the goal. Once you know what your stress creator is, you will be able to catch it and heal it. There are common human stressors. However, we are all individuals, what sends me over the edge, may not bother someone else.
It is easier to create change when we look after ourselves, which in turn means that we can hear/see or feel the warning signs when they come up and therefore we can nip stress in the bud. It also means we can recognise the type of stress that will go away because it is an adrenaline rush to help us complete something.
Remember: That we do need stress because it can also help us to do that task that’s tough, or to run that marathon. This is healthy stress. It’s about balance and knowing which of the two we are faced with.
Of course it could be your situation, your job, your finances, your relationship, your attitude… (get a life coach, they can help you with goal setting, and creating change. There are books and articles to help with this too.) We all have the power to change the lives that we are living, no matter how bad, there is always a way. Sometimes we can’t see what we have fallen prey to, and at this point we can get help.
So how do you create a space where low level stressors remain just as they are and do not become full blown stress that knocks you down?
The first thing that you need to do is recognise in yourself when you feel out of sorts. Learn what causes you anxiety & tension.
Get in tune with your body – Sometimes stress, annoyance, anxiousness etc will hit your body, when it needs something. Check these things first, am I thirsty, hungry, tired, need a break, am I breathing properly (a lot of us hold our breath when we hit stress and anxiety, check out my quick tip in: Find your inner calm) need some fresh air, feel unwell? Take care of your bodies’ need, as soon as you notice it. I know this can be hard, but it is important.
You can prepare for body needs – keep water with you, pack a box of nuts, or fruit for snack. Tired, take a walk in the fresh air, or if you’re anything like me have a 5 minute danceathon to an upbeat song you love can work wonders.
Get in tune with your mind – Other times it’s our mind that creates the stressful situation, she’s having a go at me again, he’s not being nice, I hate this place. Check your language and pause. Reflect on how this is affecting your body and find a way to stop yourself when you hit this track. I use a strange method for this, you’re more than welcome to give it a try. When this happens to me I imagine that I am sitting in a field of tulips or poppies, reading a book. If driving you can use the 5,5,5 breathing method (check out blog I mentioned earlier). Oh and drop the thought, if it’s making you feel bad it’s not serving you! No matter where it originated.
Always take care of your needs first …
Are you trying to Multitask? - Well this can create anxiety, checking your phone, while checking your e-mail, while scribbling out a note. STOP!!! Do one thing at a time. If this is tricky stay focussed and write a list. When you are writing an e-mail for example, make sure that this is all that you are doing or thinking about.
‘Among other things, repeated task switching leads to anxiety, which raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the brain, which in turn can lead to aggressive and impulsive behaviour…’
Daniel J Leviten.* www..theguardian.com
When you take care of these feelings at source, it’s harder for them to become the great big Elephant in the room and turn into hardcore, debilitating I can’t cope stress.
This does also mean being honest with yourself, if you hate your job or your life situation, what can you do to change it? If you don’t make the changes are you prepared for the drip, drip effects of the stress that it puts on you? I know about this one and I am telling you that your health is more important than staying where you do not need to be, or doing what you do not want to do. The drip drip effect can create all sorts of issues physical and mental. Of course there are exceptions to the rule and only you can know if you are making the issue bigger than it needs to be, so an attitude change can improve a situation as well as walking away from it.
You are the driver of your bus, make the journey to a place where you want to go, rather than allowing someone else to drive your bus and taking you to a place that creates … Stress!!! (remember sometimes you could be the one letting your anxious self drive the bus. Let your confident unstressed self drive the bus.)
Dealing with low level stress and how it effects us is simple and not so simple to be honest, because it depends on how much we want to care for ourselves. In the end the choice rests with you.
You can create a life that is free of stress that is not good for you. You can also experience that stress and create habits that help you to alleviate the pressure, so that it does not overwhelm you. Remember some stress is good for you and once you know how this works for you (recognising your bodies cues), you can create a life that is, healthy and happy …
Oh and a little secret about my stressor, it’s time, I get so punky!! Yup punky when I think that I am taking toooo long to do something. Or anyone else is for that matter!!! So check it out, I go out with a guy that is like, oh we’ve got time, and all laid back!!! Arghhh, he drives me crazy, lol. So I am taking care of my anxiety issue here. This stuff takes time ya know!!! *laughs a lot!*
If you have any stress busting tips, share them on my facebook page www.facebook.com/lifecatalystcoach as a comment …
Thank you so much for reading.
Love to you all