As the calendar flipped over to May, my stomach did a little flip along with it as I embarked on a mini-mission to stress less and document the process so that other mums like me could follow along. I felt so excited to be writing about an issue close to my heart, that could potentially make a big difference in my life and those of others, but at the same time I had to be honest about the fact that in a bid to stress less, I could be entering into something that could potentially lead to more stress.
As life would have it, on that same day (May 1) my eldest son was officially diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay. A diagnosis that means more intensive therapy than we’re currently doing and a fair bit of uncertainty around if/where/how he’ll start prep next year. Despite steeling myself for whatever news we’d take with us from the Paediatrician’s office, I could feel stress sneaking in through my shallow breathing and that dull ache in the pit of my stomach.
As much as I like to think I’ve built up ways of handling my stress levels or using them to drive a positive outcome, last week showed that the bid to stress less takes constant practise and a lot of resolve when times get a little tougher.
Which means sometimes always starting from the beginning and pinpointing exactly what’s stressing you out and how you know you’re under stress to begin with.
As I mentioned in my previous post, life’s stresses will ebb and flow and we’ll never be completely free of them. The only thing we can really control is our reaction and to change our reaction, it’s helpful to know the things causing us to feel stressed and what our default reaction is.
Using my last week as an example, if I sat down with a pen and paper with ‘What’s stressing me out’ at the top (and I recommend you do this today!), I would write:
- I’m stressing out about writing about how to handle stress as I want my words to matter and to help others and don’t always have enough time to polish my words as much as I’d like.
- I’m stressing out about the realities of Jarvis having GDD and how we are going to afford the extra therapy required and make the right decision regarding his schooling.
- I’m stressing out that the house is more out of control than usual as I had to change my work schedule to accommodate some extra appointments this week, so the house looks like a pigsty.
My reaction to these stressful feelings is to:
- Google until my fingers ache and my head feels like it’s going to explode.
- Use avoidance tactics and not write at all until the night before my next post is due.
- Not eat as healthily as I like to, leaving me feeling blah.
- beat myself up for the messy surrounds.
These reactions haven’t been at all helpful as they’ve only served to add another layer of stress and leave me feeling flat, rather than helping me feel calm and composed.
Are you ready to get a bit up close and personal with your own stress? Sometimes it’s hard to name exactly what’s going on, but try and dig a bit deeper as to the ‘what’ of what’s stressing you out. It’s easy just to say ‘money’ or ‘not enough time’, but if you pick a pen and dig a bit deeper you might find something lurking behind the stress that may find it easier to deal with.
For example, if I re-read the reasons for my stress I can start to feel a bit of compassion for myself. Like ‘hey, you’ve had a tough and busy week. Forget about the house mess. I know it makes you feel stressed, but you’ll get a bit more time on the weekend’. A plan of attack could also reveal itself to you, so you could start making some calm progress.
So, for the next few days just become very aware of your stress triggers and note them in some way.
1. Note what triggered the stress or if you feel you’ve been carrying it around for awhile, note when it started and what daily events keeps you feeling that way.
2. Note how you felt to make you realise you were feeling stressed, What physical sensations were stirred up?
3. How did you deal with the stressful feelings and do you think your reactions were positive or negative?
Once we’ve done this, on Friday I’ll be sharing how to come up with your own little action plan to feel more in control of the stress in your life.
I’d love to hear how you go with this. If you’re comfortable sharing, please do so in the comments. I’ll also keep you posted with how I’m going,
Thanks so much for joining me for this! xx