Una's Blog

24
May

Una’s little world 29. Stress

by Una Hearne.

Isn’t it wonderful when you are on the very edge of your last nerve and someone tells you to ‘Relax’ or ‘Calm down’. So helpful.

So we all know the feeling of stress. Covid-19 has raised the stress level of the entire human race all at once. That’s never happened before. We are past the initial high stress of shock and we are now dealing with a lower level, but ongoing stress. Stress shows up mentally/emotionally as anxiety and/or depression and/or anger.

If stress continues it will show up in our bodies. Everybody is different. For some it affects sleep, others digestion, it can show up in our vascular, nervous or immune system and it can also show up as pain. Stress does not cause illness but it will show up where you already have a genetic tendency, illness or injury. It is a clear alert from your subconscious that you need to pay attention and adapt in some way. Ignore this inner wisdom at your peril.

Every human being experiences stress regularly, every change, new issue, every overload. However, stress is a very different experience for each person. Something that stresses you may not affect another person nearly as much and vice versa. So Covid-19 triggers a different level of stress for every individual depending on all sorts of variables such as personality, previous experience, risk, current situation, resilience and resources.

We must acknowledge and respond to stress. Ignoring or suppressing these signals is damaging to you. When I worked in a corporate environment it was considered a weakness to admit to stress. If you couldn’t ‘handle’ (suppress) your stress you were not promotion material. The most fervent supporters of this culture were often functioning alcoholics, addicts or those brewing heart disease, strokes and cancer. It is the height of stupidity to ignore your feelings.

There are two parts to handling stress appropriately. The first is managing stress within yourself and the second is changing what is needed in your environment.

Managing stress within yourself is about allowing your feelings to be, acknowledge the truth of them. Feel them but don’t get stuck in a loop with them. The wisdom passed down the millenia by our ancestors holds true – rest and sleep, healthy food, exercise, hobbies and meditation/prayer – are both antidotes and preventatives. We also need to find – preferably healthy – ways to comfort and soothe ourselves. Different things work for different people, find out what works best for you and use it.

Changing our toxic environments and cultures is also necessary, all the inner work in the world will not save you if you are in a toxic situation. Obviously we have less control outside ourselves but we still have choices. And 7 billion individual choices does add up to global change. Just look at how we voluntarily changed our behaviour globally in the past few months.

In any toxic situation you have three choices, all valid depending on the situation:

  1. Do nothing. Put up with it as it is.
  2. Change the situation by changing what you think, say, do or tolerate.
  3. Leave

Note none of these involves exerting control over other people. You can only control your choices. This model works for toxic relationships, homes, workplaces and cities. You have choice all day every day – this is your super power. Use it wisely.

Mind yourself, you matter

Una x

 

 

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