Have You Ever Felt Like I Once Did?

April is Stress Awareness Month and I write about it because I don’t want to see people experiencing what I went through 20 years ago. Sadly I see on a daily basis, particularly with women who continue to put their own needs at the bottom of their list of priorities if indeed they figure in that list at all. When will we learn that if we try to do it all there are consequences and what example are we giving to our children? This really does need to stop.

I feel so passionate about helping reduce it because of the impact it has on us as individuals, particularly our health and the people who we love. And it doesn’t serve us.

What I will be covering in this blog is:-

 

  • My own experience of stress
  • How the brain works
  • The impact of stress on our health and wellbeing
  • What you can do about it on a daily basis

 

 

My Stress Story

 

Who has experienced that feeling of being on a hamster wheel and not being able to get off it? In my book “Journey to Chocolate” I wrote about my experiences of the hamster wheel I found myself on: wanting to be the best mother, the best wife, some kind of domestic goddess and the best at my career, which at the time was in a clinical leadership role as a health visitor in the NHS. I think I wanted to cover up my perceived failure as a mum after suffering post natal depression, secondary infertility and then the loss of my second baby in miscarriage. I’m well now and, as I write this, it all does feel like a life time ago. It took heartache and years of work to do what it took to make the changes I needed to make for the sake of my health. And it was worth every last tear. Sometimes you have to hit the depths to be able to rise up stronger

 

And this is how I described it:-

 

“There’s a feeling of no choice but to be on that wheel. We become victims of the circumstances we find ourselves in. Somewhere deep inside we are not hearing our spirit crying out to be heard”

I never gave myself self care time. I believed I didn’t have time .. why was that? I was way too low on the priority list, I didn’t have the self worth.

I share that with you because, if you’re there now, I see you and in the book I go into a lot more detail about how stress became burnout and how it ultimately led to me leaving my NHS job and so much more but there’s not room here. And if you do want to buy the book I’ll include the link to my Paypal account ..it’s simple!

 

It wasn’t easy but I learned simple self care habits that I have implemented into my life and I will share with you

 

What is Stress & Why Does it Happen?

 

The stress state has been with us for over 3 million years and was there to protect us. There’s a primitive part of our brain (the hypothalamus) that is constantly scanning for threats and triggers the fight or flight response when it detects a threat of some sort.  We needed that to run from stampeding mammoths and the like. However it was designed to work for only short periods of time. The 21st century has brought challenges which continually activate that response so we’re in that stress state more than a healthier thrive state.

 

The biggest has to be tech. Our phones are with us all the time, people take them to the loo with them, to dinner with them, to bed with them .. they are constantly on call to the world and, every time that phone bleeps we get a mini stress response. And let’s not even go down the social media route .. we all know and understand what it’s doing but somehow we can’t stay away from it. And I’m not saying all social media is bad because I use it but let’s manage our consumption of it

 

We’re always in a rush to be somewhere, always complaining about the lack of time we have. When I began to realise we all have the same amount of time .. obvious really isn’t it! .. and that it was a precious resource I could never get back I began to treat it with much greater respect. It’s so important to prioritise what really matters but too often we are unwittingly prioritising what matters least

 

 

The Impact of Stress on our Health & Wellbeing

 

This was me: I had a perfectly healthy skin until I was ill, and it was at that time that my eczema started, something that has haunted me ever since. I had symptoms of bloating, which I imagine was mild IBS and both of those symptoms suggest my gut was in bad nick.

 

Stress definitely impacts on our gut health and prevents it working as it should so that we are less able to absorb nutrients from our food. And poor gut health affects our immune system, our skin and our mind. It also causes inflammation which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and many cases of depression. And that’s only part of the story.

 

This really really matters …..

 

But it’s not all bad news ….

The good news is we can do something about it so I am going to give you some tips to help you manage that hamster wheel life and I urge you to make the choice to do something every day that’s purely for your own self care And don’t leave daily self care another day .. start now!

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Make this the month you introduce a daily self care habit and, if at all possible, by yourself. These are some of my favourites

  • Daily exercise .. I started a few years ago with 10 minute walks, that was all the time I would give myself. Now it’s 2-3 miles. It doesn’t have to be walking, it has to be something you love, preferably outdoors and preferably by yourself
  • Sometimes I just lie on the settee listening to music and doing nothing. It’s bliss
  • Make a cup of tea and read a book .. alone if possible

One of the best things I have found is a morning routine .. half an hour of gratitudes, affirmations, journalling, meditation and if that feels too much just take the time every day to write down 3 things you’re grateful for. You’ll be amazed how different you feel when you start doing that.

  • And I can share with you the Be Well Club run by some colleagues where they host a morning routine every morning at 6.30 (it is recorded) .. it is an amazing community. Just message me and I’ll share more
  • Take a digital holiday every day and at the very least switch your phone off at least 90 minutes before bed as it will impact your sleep and please please keep it out of your bedroom
  • Look at your diet .. are you eating ultra processed food or too much sugar or coffee or chocolate or wine to make you feel better? If you are struggling with this or just curious get in touch because I may be able to help you

You will have your own ideas and only you can give yourself the time to make it happen but go for it because you are very definitely worth it! This is non negotiable if you want to live better for longer

 

I’ve referred to this book for in writing this article and I highly recommend it: The Stress Solution: Dr Rangan Chatterjee

 

Author

Network She Diamond Member Ann Girling – The Unlikely Guru – guiding & encouraging you to age well & be healthier so that you can live your best life.

 

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