Recognising stress

Stress. That old chestnut.

Lately I’ve put on a bit of weight, and my skin has been braking out into spots, and I’ve had a bit of trouble feeling tired in the day and struggling to sleep at night. I was ignoring all of it. And then I was asked to run a few sessions on stress for a couple of different organisations. And I realised I was in fact showing signs of stress myself.

Stress shows itself in a variety of ways, for some it can be weight loss or gain, changes in appetite, outbursts of anger, a need to control, excessive drinking or eating (in essence doing things that numb you out from the challenges, both internal and external, that cause stress), for others it might show up as a lack of personal hygiene, or risk taking behaviour, or bodily aches and pains.

Stress can have a huge impact on our wellbeing.

Stress can come from a variety of internal or external sources. Challenging circumstances or difficult events in our work or at home can create changes in the chemistry of our bodies and put us into a state of high alert, releasing adrenaline and cortisol in the body. This hormonal shift in the body is what leads to the signs aforementioned.

And sometimes we are in a state of high alert because we are attacking ourselves, with gremlin chatter and self criticism.

Our body, our emotions and our behaviours are indicators that we feel threatened, and they are hoping we do something about the threat so that we don’t burn out.

Sometimes it’s hard to change, challenge or tackle the threat. Sometimes the threat is so big, or the gremlin is so engrained in our minds that trying to shift it feels too hard. And it’s even harder when we are in a place of resourcelessness due to feeling stressed.

So what I encourage, is a ‘blast’ of positivity, self-care, self-appreciation and self-love. There is an organisation here in Brighton called the EDL (English Disco Lovers), they are peaceful protestors, particularly against the actual EDL who like to come and visit Brighton from time to time. Rather than confront, challenge, argue with or try to change the EDL, they simply show up, blast out the most light, fun, energetic disco music and lose themselves in a mass disco dance. And you know what, it leaves the EDL stumped for words, there is no response to the energy and love the English Disco Lovers are expressing.

This approach is something we can utilise within ourselves. Rather than engaging, tackling and becoming caught up in gnarly internal or external situations, we can engage with compassionate activities that make us feel good, and if we do enough of said activities, it becomes difficult for the stressors to elbow their way in.

If we are to feel good we must prioritise practices that tend to our wellbeing. Personally, I commit to slowing down, listening to music that moves me, eating nourishing food and spending some time by the sea.

How do you deal with your stress?

Much love, Hannah

Ps. Our retreat in October is a full on de-stressor – come and join us. 

*Image by Oscar Keys, www.unsplash.com

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