Stress and anxiety can strike the best of us at any time and especially so right now. I’m normally pretty chilled and not much phases me. But I have noticed that I am more easily triggered into a bit of extra swearing.
Yesterday I was recording for my latest course, when the furry ones decided that barking (and more barking) was in order. They took me by surprise as I was almost at the end of a lecture and deeply engrossed. I was a tad cross, but soon flipped into laughter, because that is how my girls make me feel. I look at them, just acting in the moment, doing their thing, while being in the present moment. Why should that be such a bad thing? And I can easily remake the video. Can’t I?
The problem comes when the short term stress triggers result in becoming overwhelmed with anxious thoughts. And this is just as easy to do.
I could have easily become someone who fretted endlessly that my course wouldn’t be ready, it wouldn’t be good enough, and many more anxiety-related thoughts, all exacerbated by other external factors beyond my control.
I choose to laugh at life, but sometimes I need something more. Walking the dogs 4 times a day helps. Stopping and focusing on my breath helps. But the thing that really does it for me is writing and journaling.
Life hasn’t always been a bed of roses and I do think that at times it should come with a stress alert.
Some stress is natural, but when that overload kicks in and chronic stress become anxiety the toll that it can take on every part of your life is immeasurable.
These days I’m often out for the first doggie walk of the day as the sun comes up which sets up my day. I even walk when I don’t want to. Like yesterday when I overslept (I am suffering from an ear infection and just wanted to sleeeeeeep) but was treated to a wet lick on my nose to tell me to get up. I always feel so much better having ventured out and enjoyed Mother Earth with the furry ones.
But it wasn’t always been this way. I can remember back in the 1990’s when a sales team I was part of felt bullied, pressured and stressed by the management team. I was shocked when during a heart to heart, one of my male colleagues confided he had been crying and not sleeping because of the bullying at work.
In my unhappiness, overwhelm and desire to isolate from this negative energy, I had thought it was only me.
The stress eventually turned into anxiety and led to him becoming very ill. I and several others subsequently left. At other companies, I have witnessed aggression, sexual harassment, bullying and manipulation. Sadly I have watched colleagues who couldn’t take the pressure, resorting to visits to the doctor with stress and other illnesses before resigning, and who can blame them?
Many of us underestimate what the stress and anxiety can do to us individually, and to our wider community until something wakes us up and we realise we have succumbed to its vice-like grip.
And right now I am concerned about the impact of what is happening to all of us. Even the most happy go lucky, like me.
I don’t know where you find yourself? But I would be surprised if you haven’t uttered ‘it’s all too much’ or ‘I can’t take anymore.’
I feel fed up, but also I’m feeling so blessed to live where I do with air to breathe and open space to walk in. Our small village mostly feels like a little piece of heaven.
But all around me, there is the threat with economic uncertainty as small businesses are forced to close. All of which adds to the pressure.
Pressure and stress for some people are positive, they love the challenge, but for others, it can be the beginning of a nightmare.
How you handle stress and anxiety varies
Having been made redundant twice and had a horribly fractured spine, I know from first-hand experience, that how you handle these and other stressful situations will vary depending on what else is going on in your life, who is there to support and what your financial situation is like, amongst other things.
The first time I was made redundant, I spiralled into the depths of despair, that was until I had managed to write my way through tons of negative thoughts and feelings.
The second time, I was delighted to leave. Our directors had all resigned two months beforehand and the person appointed to the board was not someone I could work with. So when I was awarded the brown envelope of redundancy I was relieved.
In the lead up to this, I had also journaled, but in a more positive way. I’d been considering my options for a lot longer and was better prepared.
Much, much later when my spine fractured, my journal supported my healing as I stoically (and bloody mindedly) learned how to heal myself naturally
The cost of stress and anxiety
I have no idea what the cost of stress and anxiety is to individuals, families, business or communities right now. But I imagine the fall out of this virus will be far-reaching for many years to come.
It is likely that the number of prescriptions for anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-insomnia medications will have risen. Again I have no idea of what kinds of numbers. And while these have a place, there does have to be a better way or perhaps a different way for some people.
For me, having once taken Prozac at a terrible point in my life, I know that short term they can be helpful. They were amazing, and I had an exit plan, so I knew this was to hold me up, get some peace while I implemented my plan. But I wouldn’t want to take them again. And why would I when I have discovered things that support me in a better way?
So often people don’t know where to find the solutions and resourses to their anxiety. Doctors must be overloaded and they are certainly be feeling the pressure too. The question is how do you find and maintain your inner peace in such uncertain times?
Writing in your journal
The biggest thing that has supported me all of my life is writing in my journal.
As a long term journaler, I get lots of my stuff out each night before I go to bed. I reflect on my writing often and write short stories which cover off a range of conflicts and emotions. Writing might not be for everyone, but there is research which proves its effectiveness and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) amongst other interventions uses writing to focus reflection and enable change.
When my spine fractured in 2018, I was in immense pain. For a few days, I stared at the ceiling drifting in and out of painful sleep. What helped me was first of all writing in a journal. When I say writing it was often screaming through words.
Then deciding to write a blog and book about my healing, so that I could support others. Because I was unable to work this became my work. I spent endless days researching and studying and working out how to heal naturally.
Luckily I had trained as a naturopathic nutritionist. I had been interested in nutrition and healing since my twenties. But none the less I felt like I was taking a medical degree with all of the other things I looked at.
Writing in my journal, I believe saved my life
I know writing works. Cathartic, entertaining, sometimes embarrassing writing has certainly been my saviour.
Try it for yourself, you may be amazed.
You start by buying a journal and simply allowing your words to flow. The power comes when you reflect and discover aha’s.
Some people find it difficult to journal. If that’s you try this 28 day introduction to journaling course. It could be just what you need…
Start your day well
Try this simple routine from my podcast.
- Choose a word of the day — this is how you want your day to be
- Turn that into an affirmation
- Turn the affirmation into how can I…?
- Gratitude and appreciation
My invitation is that you try this for at least 28 days and reflect on how this brings you greater inner peace.
If you want to know more about overcoming anxiety then be sure to check out this seven week course that takes you through stages of awareness and understanding and into a practical set of tools to support you day to day.
Originally published at https://daledarley.com on January 21, 2021.