1 July 2015

Dealing with Stress

I'm a naturally anxious person. I have been my whole life. I know that's hard to believe considering how much of myself I put out there, with my Youtube channel and various other social network pages. My main issue is that I always aim too high and when I fall below that mark, I let stress get the better of me.

I think the core of my anxiety, as it is for many people, is failure. 

Despite this, I used to really push myself, I pushed myself harder than I ever should have and slowly but surely .. I began to lose sense of myself. Imagine not filling your car with petrol, and the petrol light comes on warning you that you need to stop driving, or you will break down. That was me, for a long time, until one day ... I did. Not in the usual sense of "breaking down" but my injury in December 2013 was a big factor and eventually FORCED me to stop everything. I was forced to stay home all day, unable to work or walk for weeks until my diagnosis of Freibergs Disease finally came back in March 2014. I had been living in a constant circle of routine for years and now all of a sudden, everything, all my plans and ambitions had to be put on hold, because me body couldn't keep up with me. 

For months I was miserable, down in myself, wondering if there was anything I could have done to change things. Then misery turned to regret. Why had I wasted so many years making other people happy when I wasn't? Regret turned to disgust. How had I let myself go so much, cared so little for my body that it had physically began to attack me. Disgust to acceptance. Maybe I deserve this? Maybe everything really does happy for a reason? Acceptance to realisation. Why was I being so hard on myself? What had I done to deserve this? Realisation to determination. No one can change how I'm feeling but me. I need to change my way of thinking. Determination to love. I love myself, flaws and all. I am wonderfully and fearfully made. I am here for a reason. I am here to make a difference. I may not know what that is right now, but all things happen for a reason and this was supposed to happen. This is all part of my story. 

The journey my body and mind has taken this past year and a half has been a long tough road. I've lost friends along the way, and gained some amazing ones. I've learned to let people in, and let them help me when I need it most. I've accepted that I shouldn't push myself, that I shouldn't feel guilty for needing to rest or unwind in my own way.

Stress and anxiety are common terms thrown around on a day to day basis. While the symptoms of both are recognisably similar there are actual key differences to note between the two. Stress is generally a referral to external factors which our in our control (work load, deadlines, studying) while anxiety is believed to be stemmed from fears or phobias (failure, inability to face social situations). Either way, many of us have experienced one or the other at some stage in our lives. 

Some of the key things I do when I feel stress creeping up on me:

I let my anxiety get the best of me so bad sometimes that I get angry. I can never explain exactly what I am angry at but all I know is that I FEEL angry. When I start to feel like this, I try and find a quite place. Whether that's sticking headphones in and listening to music when I'm talking to you guys or lightly napping while listening to the birds outside. A quite place doesn't have to be a physical place, just a place your brain can go to calm down and compose your thoughts. There is nothing worse than being angry and taking it out on the ones you love for reasons you can't explain. 

I know this one sounds silly, but filling your body full of junk and processed foods really does affect your overall mood. My husband and I love cooking together, its one thing we really enjoy doing in our spare time. We love experimenting and trying new foods. It's true what they say, good food feeds the soul. We limit our snacking and junk not out of a necessity to eat better but because we know for a fact that when we eat better we feel better. Fill your diet full of delicious seeds, nuts, fruit and homemade delights. One of our favourite things to do together to unwind is food preparation. We switch it up too. One day I'll be on chopping duty, while Shane takes care of the cooking and vice versa. 

As long as I've know my husband, our home has never been the place where we talk about issues that bother us. I can't really explain why, because we do talk, about everything, a lot. We just go for a walk. I suppose you could say we walk our issues off. If one of us has had a bad day, or we feel particularly stressed or anxious about things, we walk and talk. This has been the hardest thing for me to lose this past year and a half. But I am blessed that my husband is so wonderful and we live in a town where places to walk are in no short supply. We used to hike for hours in the grounds of Carton House. We would talk about everything and anything from crappy days in work, to what we were planning for dinner, to future family plans and dreams. 

Since my injury, I haven't been able to hike, but my husband (despite working full time) still comes home and encourages me to go on shorter walks. The only difference now is we take breaks to sit on benches or our picnic blanket (when its not pouring rain - thanks Ireland). I think the main thing for us - is not letting stress and anxiety get to us at home. We feel like if we talk about them while walking, we have in a sense let go of them outside and our home remains a happy, stress free environment. 

Sometimes it's as simple as that. Especially when you suffer from chronic pain or other ailments that exhaust you. Napping or simply stepping away to unwind for a few minutes can make the world of difference. If you want you can also use this time to meditate. Sometimes, I have difficulty sleeping with my pain levels. Yet I find if I try meditate, I feel just as if not more rested. 

I love drawing, watching movie and reading. I always make sure that I make time for my hobbies and interests. There's nothing better to help you de-stress then doing something you love.

Whether its your significant other, your best friend of a professional. Don't be afraid to talk to someone. You will surprised how many other people are going through similar if not exactly the same things you are and understand or may be able to offer you impartial advice on how to get through.

How do you de-stress? Share some of your suggestions with us in the comment section. 
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