It’s National Stress Awareness Month? Stress affects us all in different ways and comes in many forms. Most of the stress I suffer from comes from my, YES, my, anxiety. However well I like to think I manage it, it never goes away completely. Sometimes it turns my stomach during the day and keeps me awake at night. For a heavy sleeper, that’s a real sign.
For my wife it starts in her scalp, it begins to tingle and itch. Many suffer aches and pains that bear no relation to previous activity. Or our appetite ceases or focuses on the wrong foods; It’s amazing and wonderful, and a pain, how the body can move feelings and sensations around our bodies in an attempt to ease stress and anxiety.
But who do you talk to in these situations? It can be really hard to open up and admit you need help sometimes. Embarrassing maybe, or maybe you just don’t know how to get started, you don’t what to say or how to describe what you’re feeling. And who should you talk too? Theirs is always the fear of being judged, we are always worried about what others think. We perceive shame.
You read posts on social media and they are often followed by comments about how brave the author is, and they are. Reading those posts could open the door to discussion for you, or at least give you a direction to follow. Maybe with the author, or they can point you to someone you know. Or even just comfort you in the knowledge that you are not alone.
It’s funny though, we are all different. I can talk about my issues all day. What’s hard for me is to remember, it’s not all about me. But there’s the rub, if stress and anxiety are having their way with you, then it all is!
Even if you know a little about stress or anxiety it can be hard to follow your own advice. Coming back from an amazing weekend in Brighton anxiety came crashing in for no reason that I can fathom. Kept me awake at night and kept invading my meditation, and threatened to engulf me as I went about my day.
Two things keep me on track, discipline and my wife. My routines include meditation, reading, gratitude and exercise, and it is discipline that forces me to continue them as I begin my day. I am stubborn. There is always something in there that addresses my issue on that day.
Today, it was the phrase, ‘everything will arrive at the right time’. I have been frustrated by lack of pace of some of my plans. Sometimes you need to listen to your own advice.
Of course, my wife always talks the most amazing common sense, which is both infuriating and inspiring. She always puts me in my place whilst seeing the qualities in me that so I often miss, because anxiety is yapping away in my head.
Some of those I know will only talk to their doctor, that’s cool, that what they are there for and are removed enough from everyday life that those around you won’t know. There is less fear and shame in talking to your doctor.
My wife runs a salon. Her clients come to her for an amazing hair dressing experience. As I remember having your hair cut, washed and dried is a wonderful, relaxing experience in itself, but my wife’s salon also offers a unique one to one experience. Many of her clients come to unburden themselves of their worries, anxieties or concerns. They are comfortable, relaxed and often don’t have to worry about eye contact, which in the UK is often seen as paramount to show you are listening.
People leave with a wonderful new hairdo and free of the worries they had on entering.
I help out at a local children’s home and it is noticeable how some of the children can communicate so much better in a car where there is no eye contact. The over bearing gaze of an adult or peer is removed so they can relax.
It is also the case on the experiences I facilitate. Those attending can unburden themselves as part of the experience with no eye contact and just talk as they feel comfortable with and time to break off the conversation as they wish or the activities require while having the time to dwell on their feelings before picking up the conversation as they wish. Many of the activities are designed to help them organise their thoughts.
And of course, there are help lines run by the Samaritans, or CALM, who I supported with the launch of my book ‘the View Over the Wall’.
Work out where or who you feel safe enough with to talk to . What place, person or context works for you.
Whoever you can talk to, talk to someone. A family member, friend, doctor, therapist, or buy into an experience like having your hair done or coming on one of our experiences. Ease your stress or anxiety as part of an activity.
You will feel better for having done something to help yourself.