I have sat down to write this blog so many times, but I just couldn’t get it right!!!
It is basically a continuation on of the Stress Awareness Blog, as I had so many messages from people telling me that they feel the same and they were glad that I spoke out.
To be honest it has taken me so long to write this as a few things happened recently, many of them unexpected, which has sent my anxiety into over drive. The chest tightening, the irregular breathing and the sleepless nights. So I had to re-look at the skills which I learnt in the Stress control classes to try get “back to normal”.
Firstly the most common form of stress is a mix of anxiety and depression. Most people have elements of stress in their lives all the time and during certain periods will notice that these get worse or better. It is learning to handle this stress that is important which is how I hope to help! There is no miracle cure for it and what works for one person might not work for another. You never know though putting a few things into practice might just help each of you.
One of the main things that has definitely worked for me was to throw myself into exercise. My advice – do something that YOU enjoy!! I love the classes at Bell’s Fitness and I especially love my Personal Training sessions with Anna, who is as much a head case as me and we have great craic. This definitely gives me the energy and the head space that I need.
Talk through your problems. I am extremely lucky and I have a number of really close friends who I bum and blow to and moan and groan. You need someone – no matter who it is but just someone to chat to so you don’t bottle it all up. I am one of these people who does believe that if your mind isn’t right it can manifest in a physical ailment too. A bit like negativity breeds negativity………………….
Do something for you!!! Take time out!!! I recently was invited by Catriona @ CP Therapies for a de-stress reflexology session and it worked wonders. It was so relaxing and just brilliant to get away from the madness for a while.
Something that you need to reduce is alcohol (I am devastated LOL) as this can give you a false sense of relaxation! Those few drinks can make you feel zoned out but then your sleeping is affected, you may be hungover which all heightens the anxiety. Or you could get even more anxious when you drink or maybe anger, jealousy and other emotions breed when you have had a few.
Caffeine (Absolutely doubly devastated) acts as a stimulant and can give you the “heeby jeebies” making you more irritable (ME!), muscle twitching, increased heart rate and much more. I honestly really struggle to cut down on caffeine as I really enjoy a cuppa (or 6) as I find it keeps me going (I know its all in my head) but I am going to have to reduce my intake significantly. It is just a matter of breaking the habit but a hard one to do.
Smoking, excluding all the other health dangers, smoking stimulates the body and increases the feelings of stress.
Eating well (BOO!) can also play havoc with your mind. So try to eat as healthy as you possibly can and you will reap the benefits, weight wise, energy levels too which will all help with reducing anxiety.
Some of the best pieces of advice I can give is to face up to what scares you. Whether it is public speaking, entering a lift, flying, whatever causes you stress face these fears. Work out a plan as to how you will carry out the process and then do it! How do you feel? Would you do it again? Was it as bad as you expected? Just try and face it head on and you will realise that you did it the first time you can do it again and just make it a ‘learnt skill’.
Right so above are a few things to help anxiety from festering so what if you are feeling anxious what do you do?
“STAND BACK, PULL BACK THE BLINKERS & WAIT A MINUTE” (Stress-control HSC)
Basically take your time to assess the whole situation and make sure that you take in all elements of the whole scenario so that you can deal with it. If you are physically feeling the effects of anxiety trying a breathing technique to calm your body down. Place one hand on your chest and the other over your belly button. As you breathe in, the hand on your stomach should be pushed out while the hand on your chest should not mover. As you breathe out, your stomach should pull in. Your chest should not mover. This breathing from the diaphragm will help you to relax. This is the correct way to breathe and if you ever look at kids this is how they do it but as adults we have all learnt bad habits.
Do try various relaxing techniques such as meditation or listening to relaxing music or even reading a self help book. Anything that allows your mind and body to relax and unwind.
A very, very important fact in helping to deal with stress is a good nights sleep. Though I find this is the vicious circle as when I am really stressed I can’t sleep and then the lack of sleep causes my mind to over load more – hence causing more stresses. Its a bloody nightmare!!!! And I know I am so not alone in this one. But try to wind down an hour before bedtime and NO phones or Ipads during this time. Try a relaxing bath, some soothing music whatever works for you, build it into your bedtime routine.
One of the final factors that I have learnt is that your general well-being should be good so that you can flourish. This will help create low levels of stress! Whilst we flourish we are generally working at our optimum level, we are happier, more creative, more focused, more valued, less likely to have medical problems and the list goes on and on.
But how do we accomplish a flourishing lifestyle? As I mentioned above have “good” people around you. People who compliment, who help, who boosts your self – esteem and self – confidences. Don’t surround yourself with negative people as they will bring you ‘down’.
Again keeping active will do amazing things for your body and mind. Find exercises that suits YOU and go with it.
Learn and keep your mind busy. Could be a course that you have always wanted to do or maybe its to learn a new skill. Now is the time to do it. Not only are you getting the cogs turning but you may also meet a whole new social circle, enhancing the idea of having good people around you with similar interests.
A great way to help your well being is to Give. This could be time, it could be a present, anything but you will get immense satisfaction knowing that you did something nice for someone. A great example of this is on my Mums the Word NI group on Facebook (check it out in the link). A lady contacted me to say that she had baby items that she would like to donate to a family who would need them. From this post went up the amount of ladies who have stated that they have items that they would like to give has blown me away. A health visitor has contacted and has a family in need so it is a win win situation. It is such a great act of kindness and definitely gives a great sense of well-being.
I have talked about this before but practice gratitude (do this with the kids also) Think about how lucky YOU are in comparison to so many other people. As I said if you could put everyone’s troubles in a bag, you would quickly take your own back out. Every night think of a few things that you are thankful for that day. This is a harder concept to grasp but practice Mindfulness. This is learning to live in the moment trying not to worry about the What Ifs! and the Should haves!. Heighten your awareness of your body, feelings, thoughts and actions. Take Notice of your surroundings!!
I hope that you get something that might help you on your journey to overcoming some (hopefully all) the stresses that eat at you regularly. Its learning how to cope and live with them.
I really can not recommend the Stress Control Classes that I attended in Armagh enough. I gained invaluable knowledge. I have asked the ladies to contact me if they are running any more classes in this area.
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Have a Rosie Day!!