Things I noticed in Stress Awareness Month
I feel very lucky that my work encourages me to notice what I am thinking and feeling and constantly adjust the set of my sails so I can steer in the direction I choose.
Here are some personal thoughts and experiences from stress awareness month.
Stress in itself isn’t bad
I have moments when a bit of stress can be quite fun. I rise to the challenge of a deadline and a few busy days have me buzzing.
I can feel the build-up of cortisol in my body and I enjoy it. What I know though is that if I don’t manage it and I let it go on too long I end up in a bit of an exhausted heap which serves no one.
I create much of my own stress
I have had a busy month with unexpected demands from both our children on top of an already full work diary.
What I noticed was that when I was reacting badly in a situation, it was mostly because I was struggling in some way. When I’m not looking after myself, getting enough sleep, making time to walk or meditate or eating badly – these are the times it all seems to blow up.
I know that it often feels like it’s other people creating the situation – that’s certainly how my son felt when his housemate caused a house fire – but what I witnessed was that he and I were causing a lot of the stress because we weren’t taking the time to look after ourselves.
Though I may not know the specifics of the crisis about to occur I do know that my state will affect how stressful the crisis appears to me. When I am well-resourced personally I cope better.
My emotions come and go
The day after we had come back from seeing our son I felt very sad. I have got used to the children being away from home and generally I enjoy life, but that morning I woke up sad.
I did my regular meditation and yoga practice that generally sets me up for the day and I still felt very sad. I was heavy and miserable, I didn’t feel like being upbeat for my husband and daughter who were at home.
When I noticed what was going on I took myself away for a short while and allowed myself to really feel what I was feeling. I noticed a mixture of sadness, pride, joy, loss and longing and let the tears roll.
Having given myself space to experience all that I was feeling, I was able to get back to my day in a way that was easier for me. When the pain came up again later in the day I allowed myself a moment to observe what I was feeling again without judgement.
I was just in conversation with someone whose friend has recently committed suicide. We both saw how emotions aren’t exclusive. The person I was talking to was sad, but we both saw what a mixture of emotions there was, happiness and gratitude for other things in life that were going well and also excitement and love.
There is no right or wrong to the way we feel, I so often see people worrying that they “should” be feeling some other way. When we accept, acknowledge and honour whatever it is we feel it creates a space where we can live in a way that works for us.
I need some green time
Whenever I am feeling stressed finding a tree and standing under it has me feel better.
For you it may be the sea, a wide-open field, the top of a mountain or a bench in your local park, but what I see for myself and the people I work with is that time outside in nature serves us.
I need support
The last month has had a number of challenges and this week I was very grateful that we had one of our facilitator training days.
One of the things that is vital to those days is creating a space in which we can share whatever is going on for each of us. For me it is one of the most profound and healing parts of the day. All that we shared that day helped me reconcile the experience of being human, when we share our trials and tribulations in the right environment with someone who has your back, life gets a whole lot easier.