As it is National Stress awareness Day I thought I would share my thoughts and experience when it came to stress.
What Is Stress?
Stress by definition is 'a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances'.
I am sure we can all agree we have felt some degree of stress or worry at some point in our lives right? And whilst it is true that a certain level of cortisol (stress hormone) in our body is necessary for us to survive I think it's important to recognise that in this day and age we have taken it too far. Stress has become glamorised. It has become the epitome of success, especially with the massive influence of social media (Instagram in particular). I say this because I myself have become victim to this idea that to be 'successful enough' then I should be feeling stressed all the time. And I can 100% say I achieved that... I felt stressed all the damn time and it was horrible and completely debilitating.
I think it's normal to feel a little stressed about everyday responsibilities like bills, work, relationships etc but I think when it gets to a point that we are constantly in that state of fight or flight, it is extremely unhealthy and damaging for our mental and physical health. I say this from experience because earlier this year I had some NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) Coaching sessions and part of my coaching was to manage my high stress level. And when I say high stress level I mean so off the chart that my coach had never seen such a high reading in his 20+ years of work. Yeah....crazy I know. It's no wonder I was constantly unwell, drained physically and emotionally and if I'm honest, a total hot mess. I was a walking ball of stress and it was just getting worse and worse by the day. It was seriously affecting my mental health and I had frequent periods of low mood, anxiety and irritability but it was also affecting my physical health. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating properly because I had no appetite (if you know me then you'll know this means something was really wrong), I was ill every other week without fail and permanently tired. Long story short we discovered my adrenals were completely fatigued, my hormones were all over the shop and body was just about ready to give up.
I am so grateful that my NLP coach was able to help me out of that horrible time through therapy and homeopathic supplements, as well as a lot of work on my behalf in the realm of self-awareness and mindfulness. To be honest, although I feel 100x better than I did a few months ago, I am still learning, growing (failing) and trying to manage my stress better. I am still on my journey to being the calm and relaxed person I want to be and I know it is going to take a lot of time and work (ironically) but it will be so worth it.
Stress is not glamorous. It is not indicative of success and I promise you it is not fun. Stress nearly broke me and I don't ever want to go back there which is why I am so passionate about sharing my experience and message with others now and even more passionate about preserving my energy.
Preserving your energy.
Preserving my energy means learning to say no to things I don't want to do. As a professional people pleaser (not so much anymore thank god) this is something I really struggled with because I never wanted to upset anyone (ps this resulted in me upsetting myself). But I learned the hard way that when I say yes to everyone and everything, it means putting myself and my energy last. Which in turn means meltdown. I know it can be hard to say no to certain people but honestly, if they love you and respect you they will understand and appreciate your honesty.
Preserving my energy means being self-full. Let me clarify because I'm not entirely sure that's a real word! So a lot of people think that taking time for yourself and putting yourself first is 'selfish' but I would strongly disagree. Prioritising yourself and your own wellbeing is not self-ish but instead self-FULL. It is completely necessary for you to survive and live a life that is fulfilling, peaceful and joyful to you. We've all heard the saying, 'you can't pour from an empty cup' and that is honestly so true. How can you be the best wife/mum/sister/daughter/friend possible, if your energy is completely depleted and you have nothing to give? Here's a hint...you can't! It is not possible to give time and energy that you don't have. You need to fill your cup to the brim first and and overflowing energy can be given to others. And when I say others, I mean people that you love and that deserve your energy, not just any old tom dick or harry. When my cup is filled and overflowing I feel incredible and that projects into the relationships around me. When my cup is empty...well...just ask my husband, it ain't a good time.
Preserving my energy means taking time for myself every single day. Ladies! This goes back to filling your cup because I am so serious about how important this is. Self-care is not just having a bubble bath or going for a manicure, it's not always luxurious. Self-care doesn't mean one emergency day a month where you attempt to look after yourself because you are close to meltdown. It means taking time every single day to do the things that cater to preserving your energy. I'm talking non-negotiables. You wouldn't leave your house without brushing your teeth (I hope) so you need to create these rituals and non-negotiobales in your life that make you feel good and keep you sane. For me my non-negotiables include, daily journaling, daily mindful breathing and daily stretching. I know I feel 1000x better when I do these things daily, so I have made a promise to myself that they are now a must. Have a think about what your daily non-negotiobales are and how they would make you feel.
All in all I just want to remind you that it is normal to have a little stress in our lives, in fact it's good. But please please please be aware of the level of that stress in your life. If you feel like it is taking over, meaning you are waking up and going to bed feeling stressed and anxious for days/weeks on end, then that is not normal and it's time to get some help.
I hope this blog has shed a light on stress and how un-fun it can be if you don't keep on top of it. If this resonated with you and you feel you need to speak to someone about it please don't hesitate to get in touch or reach out to someone you trust. There is always someone to listen and help you but first you have to help yourself. Please share this with anyone you feel would benefit from it!