I genuinely used to think it was normal to always feel stressed and that’s just how life is for everyone. So many of us let stress run our lives; we see it as a trophy in our busy lives, running on autopilot from one thing to the next. Stress is far from a trophy and it’s not something to be proud of. Stress is a bitch!
How do you know if you’re stressed?
Feeling irritable, angry, literally pissed off about anything
Overwhelmed in that you’re reduced to tears
Anxious – sense of dread, short, shallow breaths and a tight chest
Panic attacks because you feel like you can’t breathe
Wired and tired – you’re so tired but your brain won’t switch off
Unable to find joy or humour and generally uninterested in things
Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
Over-eating or under-eating
Drinking and smoking more than usual
Tight, tense, sore muscles
Headaches, feeling sick, dizzy and faint
Constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion and heartburn
Struggle getting to sleep and difficult to sleep through the night
Less interest in sex or not being able to enjoy sex
Weight gain or weight loss
Any of these ring true for you? Well, I could literally say “yes” to every single one of these two years ago! Before doing my life coaching course, I didn’t really understand how stressed I was. The thing is, living like this, constantly letting stress be the driver in your life, leads to chronic stress. And that’s when shit hits the fan!
So, what is stress?
Stress is a situation/event that puts pressure on us (e.g. a lot to do in a short space of time) or a reaction to being placed under pressure (e.g. struggling to cope with the demands expected). In small amounts, stress is normal and a healthy feeling in order for us to take action, feel energised and get shit done! But our modern day lifestyles mean that we’re constantly experiencing stress and this is when it starts to cause us problems.
When we are stressed, we release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol works with your brain and is best known for fuelling your “fight/flight/freeze” response to a threat. Alongside this, adrenaline triggers the blood vessels to contract to re-direct blood towards your major muscle groups, like the heart and lungs. This is great in small amounts as it gives you the energy to be handle that stress by shutting down other functions in your body – such as the reproductive system and digestive system – because they’re not needed at that moment.
After the threat has passed, your cortisol and adrenaline levels should calm down; your heart rate, blood pressure and other systems in your body should return to normal. But our modern day, stressful lives means THAT NEVER HAPPENS! We’re constantly pumping these stress hormones around our body, derailing our bodies most important functions because your brain thinks you’re under attack and you need to fight or flee.
No wonder your digestive system is all over the shop, because it’s been shut down due to your stress response.
No wonder you’re not interested in getting jiggy with your partner, because your reproductive system has shut down due to your stress response.
Now you’re asking, how do I deal with the stress I’m experiencing?
Stress Busting Tips:
Give yourself breaks to calm your mind and body down
Make a list of all the things you need to do and then arrange them in order of importance, focusing on those first, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Move your body – walking, workouts, cycling, dancing, etc to release that negative energy
Breathing techniques will help calm your central nervous system down – box breathing is great!
Meditation will help you shift your focus, give you space and be in the present moment
Get out in nature – Google ‘Ecotherapy’ and ‘Forest Bathing’
Get creative – sing, dance, draw, paint, etc – and enjoy it!
Speak to a friend; laughter is the best medicine!
Choose one that you want to try and implement into your life when you notice yourself getting stressed. Trying to do all of the above would just overwhelm you and bring you even more stress! Everyone is different, what works for me may not work for you, so find something you feel comfortable with.
Over the past year, I have learned what my stress symptoms are, what signs I need to look out for before I end up with chronic stress and burnout again! I’ve also implemented a few self-care routines to try and manage my stress levels because life can be stressful! Having a self-care routine doesn’t mean I’m stress free (far from it!), it means that I’m well equipped to deal with stress when it does arise.
What tool will you try first?