Managing long term and enduring stress. I will start this blog by sharing some of the impacts I have personally felt from severe stress:
✖️ poor digestive system to the point where I eliminated gluten for a while in an attempt to settle it. Constant bloating, restless tummy and poor bowel movements.
✖️ poor sleep – restless during the night or awake from very early 3-4am and not being able to sleep.
✖️ diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This is an attack on the nervous system and comes from long term stress. It results in pain from your neck through your back, around your pelvis and a heavy ache in your muscles. It also causes horrendous fatigue.
✖️ obvious one, poor or downfall of mental health. This is a big one and includes bad bouts of depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety.
Long term stress is really debilitating. Not only are you dealing with the pressures of normal every day life you also are dealing with something additionally significant: marriage breakdown, new parenting, moving house, illness, family issues, death etc.
It is very very easy to become consumed by the large stressor in your life which overrides all the good moments that may be surrounding you. I know for me, stress regularly robbed me of being properly engaged with the boys, it made me so damm tired every week. I never really felt ‘relaxed’ – where was the next hit coming from?
I have recently listened to ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k’ on audiobook and it’s a great read/voice read about how many of us these days try to avoid suffering.
We do as much as we can to avoid pain so in suggesting what I do, I actually don’t suggest you avoid your pain.
I am simply giving some options if you are going through something major that might help you see your days through without a complete deterioration of your mental health.
➖ finding an outlet that 100% distracts your mind. For me – that was the gym. I could go and push myself and control my environment for that one hour. Preferably don’t use substances or alcohol for this.
➖ I educated myself around nutrition and fibre intake. This helped me work out what was bothering my body, what irritated my bowels and what gave me the most energy for the weeks I needed it.
➖ I would burn essential oils and candles just to create a place of calmness.
➖ I bought fresh flowers for the house as it regularly reminded me to take in the small moments and practice being grateful.
➖ I would lay with the boys in their beds once they were asleep when things were really confusing and just give them a hug.
➖ create a bedtime routine, mine was: lavender on my temples, lip balm, meditation music and reading before sleep.
➖ for me, I had to get better at managing my fibro and not trying to ignore it completely.
➖ I would have a long shower and literally let the water hit me and imagining it washing away my worries.
➖ watched ALOT of trash TV in the evenings. Nothing heavy, light weight crap that didn’t make me think much.
➖ cried – ALOT. Allowing this emotion to release itself sometimes was exactly what I needed.
➖ got myself dressed up – makeup, hair, tan, nails – whatever it took just to help me not look in the mirror and feel drained and depleted.
➖ baths – candles, music, radox to relax my muscles.
➖ create lists and set items to get done each week. Sometimes writing it down makes it easier to attack and manage. It certainly helped me with court hearings, kids, work, drafting docs etc.
➖ I had just a small handful of people around me that I absolutely could ring and cry, yell, scream, be angry to and they would listen and never ever turn away or tell me they were sick of hearing my sh*t. We all need those people.
There are lots of others like meditation, gratitude journaling, counseling etc which I have done all of but I wanted to share some other random items that have helped me along the way. Not everyday is easy, somedays nothing works and it just sucks. That’s ok – accepting that is part of managing stress. Crawling into bed and hoping tomorrow will be better is sometimes the only answer. Some nights for me this was a couple of glasses of red, some takeout and a cuddle from wayne. That’s ok – you can’t distract yourself always. Allow those moments to consume you for that short period. The exhaustion can be inevitable so sometimes you have to just go to bed and sleep.
I hope this helps someone a little and remember it’s about the small things you do that add up to keep you putting one front in front of the other.