Tag Archives: Coping with stress

Stressed out and strung out. Now what?

Stress does funny things to a person.  A person’s health and emotional well-being. To relationships. Sure, a little stress is good – motivating even. It can be a needed kick in the pants to help us re-focus and rise to the occasion.  But too much stress … it throws that delicate balance out of sync – and the results can be disastrous.

Run a Google search on “stress” and the first site that jumps up on the screen makes the bold statement of “Don’t let stress hijack your life”.  A profound statement in itself, because stress really and truly can “hijack” a person’s life.

StressWhile it remains to be said that stress comes in all shapes and forms, stressors affect each and every person in a different way.  What’s stressful to me may not be that stressful to you.  Yet, whatever those stressors may be, stress overload can result in a variety of health conditions.  For instance, high blood pressure, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and asthma, amongst other conditions.  Emotionally, things get more complex.  Now we’re talking about insomnia, loss of libido, difficulty relaxing, low self-esteem and depression, agitation, moodiness and frustration.  Such symptoms can also lead to a cache 22 scenario, for example, suffering from insomnia because due to stress will mean a person is less likely to be able to handle stressful situations because of being sleep deprived.  And round and round we go.

And then there’s the ultimate cog in the wheel, the negative impact stress can have on relationships.   Some people will emerge as moody, easily agitated and short-tempered ogres, snapping at loved ones and being so impatient and intolerant that unintentionally loved ones are pushed away – or perhaps sent running for the hills in search of cover.  In short, the home may invariably become a war zone of disharmony and discontent which only worsens the situation.

StressI know that we can’t always control what will cause us stress.  Yet surely we can find ways to maximise what we actually can control?  Seizing power over the foothold stress has in our lives means learning to recognise its symptoms and finding out how to handle it.  I found the World of Psychology’s “10 Practical Ways to Handle Stress” very helpful.

The great thing about the Internet is that, thanks to the myriad of websites and blogs dedicated to the topic, the information to help us cope is at our figure tips.  Applying it in our own lives is, of course, the real challenge – but not necessarily a battle that cannot be won.

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Back to basics – when the going gets tough

When things go wrong, they normally do so on a grand scale.  Ask anyone you know how wrong things can really go … ask me. Descriptive terms like “cascading effects” and “downhill slide” don’t actually do any justice, but it’s a start.

Silly as it may sound, I had a bit of a personal crisis when I turned thirty.  I looked back at my twenties and saw only the bad things:  the things I didn’t accomplish, all the apparently unfulfilled hopes and dreams.  After the past year though, those years look more like a walk in the park than tough times.

Let me tell you, I’m not superstitious by any means. I have no qualms about walking under a ladder or a black cat crossing in front of me. Surprisingly then, the whole “bad things happen in threes” is oddly fitting.  Case in point:  I suffered with depression last year like never before (strike one), I lost my job after being retrenched (strike two), and then for the finale, I finally fell pregnant after trying for quite some time and after 9 weeks had a silent miscarriage (strike three).  Like I said, when things go wrong, it really does feel like things go from bad to worse.

Of course, shit happens!  Whether you’re Oscar Pistorius or just a normal Joe Soap (like me), it is unfortunately a guarantee that at some stage our lives will be affected by turmoil, disappointment and tragedy.  Luckily the degree and duration thereof differs (I’m damn happy that I’m not the one on trial for murder!).

DepressedNo matter how bad a situation may seem and no matter how we may wish for time to pass us by, a new day will always dawn.  I still fully prescribe time off to sulk and skulk around in pyjamas with scruffy hair, unbrushed teeth and no deodorant, but don’t fool yourself, the time will come when a choice has to be made, and that is, the choice to keep living.

It will be about getting back to basics.  Get up, shower, brush your teeth and hair, spritz on the perfume and walk out the door.  The best medicine is as simple as facing the world and literally taking things step by step or day by day.  Getting back to basics is about focusing on the little things that help to get us through the day.  It’s also about not dwelling on the pain, grief or anger and allowing the healing process to begin.

Whoever first said that time heals all wounds is a wise man (or woman).

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