Stress: the word conjures so many different reactions, judgments and responses. Can you recognise yourself in the following portraits:
You will proclaim “I’m not stressed” only to reel off a list of Herculean tasks you are currently juggling on 5 hours sleep a night. To you, admitting to being stressed is to entertain the possibility of a chink in your armour. Not identifying as being stressed is your way of staying resolute in the face of challenges, to continue to reassert your capacity to cope regardless of the challenges life throws at you.
The upside: tremendous drive, resilience and capacity to get things done. You’re still ploughing on when most mere mortals have fallen in a heap.
The health downside: when you crash you crash hard. Not content with the typical cold or flu, these tough nuts will not slow down until a full blown auto-immune crisis hits, rendering them incapacitated for a lengthy period of time.
Stress reboot tip: Don’t ignore the warnings signs of your health breaking down. Just because you can put up with (insert uncomfortable symptom e.g.: headaches, skin rashes, insomnia etc) doesn't mean your body is not trying to tell you something. Wha starts out as a whisper can end up as a scream if you keep ignoring it.
Stressful events are mined for their rich potential to provide entertaining stories to regale anyone within earshot. You know you’re stressed but you’ve felt this way for so long now you’ve forgotten what its like to not feel constantly stretched to the limit. Ironically you may find yourself having hour long conversations with people telling them how much you have to do! You are so busy coping with being stressed that you can’t get started on your to do list. You can feel incapacitated and powerless, you procrastinate and are unable to take the first steps into stress reducing action.
The upside: Despite everything you’re often fun to be around, you’ve kept your sense of humour despite the chaos and that’s definitely a good thing
The health downside: you know what to do, you’ve probably already bought the relaxation CD’s. Your Yoga mat is gathering dust in the cupboard, you keep telling yourself that next month is when you’re going to switch you morning coffee for a green juice. Failure to change your ways leaves your cortisol levels dangerously high, you’re immune system compromised, your energy levels flat and your mood tetchy. You’re better than this, its time to make some changes.
The health reboot: Start small. Commit to doing just one thing every day for this whole month and stick to it. No matter what! In just 31 days time you’ll have laid the foundations to being disciplined about making your health a priority.
The quietly desperate
No one knows how tough you are doing it, you keep up a good front but inside its a different story. You might be so good at coping that you’ve even convinced yourself that your ok but deep down you know you’re struggling.
The upside: You are resilient and people turn to you because, despite the turmoil within you radiate calm (even though your not feeling it). Once you learn to better manage your stress you’ll be able to switch on your true inner zen at will.
The health downside: You’re not coping even though you look like you are, which is dangerous. You might turn to alcohol, sugar or other forms of short term stress relief but it only makes you feel worse. It doesn’t have to be like this.
Stress reboot tip: Feeling good is not as far away as it probably feels right now. You just need to make some positive changes, starting today. Exercise is your friend, as it will perk up your liver, cleanse your blood and lift your mood. Once you get a bit of momentum everything will feel and be easier.
Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stress, anxiety and depression.
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupuncture, herbal medicine and meditation.