Updated: Dec 11, 2019
I am not alone, we all experience periods of turmoil and change and in reality, the only way through is to ride it out, but is there a way to make this ride easier?
Well yes I think there is.
There are a few things that can assist you to move past stress, crisis or trauma while ensuring you retain your health and mental wellbeing throughout these challenges and beyond.
I want to expand a little here, crisis and turmoil will always change us, it moulds us into something new, on the other side of it we will see the world through a different lens, sometimes it can alter our entire understanding of our place in life. Unfortunately, it can also create an environment so full of stress and toxicity that our health and mental wellbeing pay an enormous price. Unmanaged this kind of high level stress and impact our immune defence leading to recurrent illness, and it can weaken our resilience leading to an inability to cope with everyday tasks. We often see disturbed sleep, poor dietary choices, increased consumption of alcohol or other substances, excessive addictive behaviours such as increased screen use, over-exercising, working extended hours, and so on, in other words, finding a way to distract ourselves by pushing our body our mind to the limit.
Sadly if we just ‘push through’ we will pay the price in old age. As we age our body slows down and we see a natural change in immune defence, resilience both physically and mentally, and many other body systems as we ready ourselves to rest. This aging process is accelerated by unmanaged stress both chronic and extreme acute episodes.
So what simple tools can we develop to assist in managing these stressors, and to improve health outcomes as we age, ensuring we maintain optimal health and mental wellbeing throughout this messy thing we call life.
Find some balance
I am going to provide some food for thought here, some simple tools to help you personalise your own best approach to dealing with stress and overcoming its hold on your current and future wellbeing.
The golden rule here is to be kind to yourself.
Be kind to yourself!
Eat well – it is so easy to make poor food choices when you’re stressed, you’re body will scream for all the wrong things. DO NOT give yourself a hard time about it. DO make a few great choices as frequently as possible to bring your dietary intake back into balance. The more often you can treat your body to a vegetable-packed stirfry (for example) the better you will feel and the easier it will be to do it again.
note: If your stress is chronic I strongly suggest seeing myself or a Nutritionist local to you for advise around appropriate nutritional support to help you through, there are a number of nutrient deficiencies that are commonly found alongside long term stress.
Rest – when you are under stress you are using a large amount of emotional energy, and your body and mind need rest. So get in the bath or shower more often, take a day nap, walk (slowly) in a local green space, watch a few good movies, take yourself out for breakfast, go to bed early, sleep in.
It is in times of rest that we heal, it’s in the quiet (sometimes uncomfortable) times that we move through our hard times. So stop, be still, pay attention to how your body feels and also to how long it takes you to feel fully at rest.
Release the negative energy – exercise, yoga, laughter, screaming, crying, talking, whatever it takes. Carve out some time to release the valve on the negative energy you may be holding onto. It's toxic you don’t need it, it will not help you.
Mindfulness – this can seem like a very difficult task for some, just saying the word ‘mindfulness’ can send a shiver down the spine. So let's break it down, essentially you are just trying to turn off the fight and flight side of your central nervous system, you will know when you have achieved this because you will absolutely feel it as a full-body experience.
This simple exercise can be repeated multiple times per day, why not set an alarm through the day to do it on the hour every hour for one week and see what you notice. Now your tummy, take a deep breath in, hold it for 2 seconds and then completely release it, as you do this let your tummy muscles relax.
If you have a little more time pay attention to any other parts of your body that may be holding tension (eg your hands, hips, feet or legs) and release those as well.
This simple exercise can be repeated multiple times per day, why not set and alarm through the day to do it on the hour every hour for one week and see what you notice.
Note: For more information on mindfulness tips, tricks and tools please feel free to reach out either via email or Facebook.
Lean on your people – allow those close to you to help out, let them help you carry the load. Let them listen to you, let them cook you dinner, or watch your kids for an hour, or take you to a movie. Soak up your friends and family during this time comforted by the fact that one day it will be your turn to return the favour.
Remind yourself this will end – do this often, your life will change and you will adjust. Know that there will likely always be something to create a ripple in your life and with these simple techniques in place you will get through and you will be ok. You can handle it.
So be kind to yourself, you deserve it.