Ever find yourself lying in bed staring at the ceiling, mind spinning so fast that you just know there is no point shutting your eyes? Or maybe your stomach is upset, your body is aching, feeling anxious or you are getting headaches. Maybe all of the above.
Stress affects us all differently and can have crippling effects on our body and mind. There have been times when I won’t sleep more than a few hours for weeks or even months if something is causing me stress. Until recently I would never have connected that external stressors were in fact creating illness in my body. I would often get sick when I was busy at work or had burnt myself out by taking too much on. I’d feel the drain on my body, fight it and carry on, then eventually get sick and blame it on some sort of flu, virus or asthma. Sometimes what brings it on may not even seem like a big deal, some minor challenge in life that I’m struggling to overcome.
Recently it was all getting a little too much for me, the constant unknown (as I’m sure we can all relate to in this past year), and the frustration of feeling stuck, so I took a different approach. I put my headphones on in my room and put on an upbeat playlist. I started with a swing of my hips and after not too long I was having a wild solo dance party. I felt so good after, getting out of my head and moving some of that trapped energy through my body was just what I needed.
“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
Unfortunately, stress is and always will be a part of our lives. We can, however, grow from it. Whenever there is a stressful challenge, there is an opportunity for growth. Consider the number of times you have been put in stressful situations in life and emerged stronger and more resilient. Things that would have left me with sleepless nights a few years back, no longer bother me at all. I’ve grown through being put in these uncomfortable positions and coming out the other side. Even if that just means learning to worry less about certain circumstances.
“Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it
properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.”
– Danzae Pace
What works for me is to notice when the effects of stress are rising and manifesting in my body and do my best to mitigate them. Whether that be through going for walks in nature, talking honestly and openly with friends, listening to a meditation, journaling, or focusing on my breath. Life can be challenging and I hope that you understand that no matter what you are going through, you are not alone.
Stress affects each of us in our own unique way; we are doing the best we can, so be gentle with yourself.
“Relax. No one else knows what they’re doing either.”
– Ricky Gervais
John Van Huenen