Stress. Stress. Stress. Stress
This is a pattern we all seem to see in our lives in modern day society. We live in a fast-paced world, where we are met with unreal expectations of ourselves, and of others. We live in a world where we are expected to juggle balls of fire, whilst walking a tight rope, whilst dressed in a business suit in heels and a full face of flawless makeup. We have unrealistic and unobtainable goals, both set by ourselves and our peers, whether they be friends, family, co-workers, bosses or the general expectations of society, and we try too hard to reach these goals, whilst trying to remain peaceful and calm when we undoubtedly cannot. We try to carry on, running at 100mph, even when our bodies and minds tell us to slow down. We encounter stressor after stressor, and we allow this stress to overtake our lives, our bodies and our minds. We are a society of hot-headed, exhausted, anxiety-fuelled stress-heads who will eventually run ourselves into an early grave if we don’t take a step back, slow the pace, and realise that life is given to be enjoyed.
I have worried for a good 95% of my life so far. I have worried about every little thing you can possibly imagine there is to worry about, and on top of that, all the things you would never think a human could worry about. I have had panic attacks about the smallest of things, held myself back from living due to anxiety, pushed myself to the limit of my mental and physical capability trying to beat anxiety and stress at its own game – and of course losing.
And where has all of this stress got me? No where. Simply, no where.
I want to share with people what stress, anxiety and panic attacks has done to my life, and share with you why it is so important to worry less, and enjoy life to the full.
- Anxiety has made me sick, which has developed into eating disorders which I am still trying to overcome. Over my life I have had anorexia and bulimia as a result of my anxiety – a need to be in control of my body, which in my brain meant it needed to be entirely empty of food and water. This ultimately led to stomach ulcers, dramatic weight loss, acid reflux, and a whole number of complications.
- Anxiety makes me ill. Undiagnosable, physical illnesses are the most frustrating. Do you find yourself constantly tired, achy, sick, lethargic, having painful periods, painful joints, dizziness, headaches or migraines, amongst other ailments you just can’t fix? This was my life. I would head to the doctors at least 3 times a month asking what they could do for my physical symptoms, however there was no illness to fix. No blood test showed any physical symptom, and no medication helped. My anxiety and reaction to stress in my life was not only making living inside my head exhausting, but making my body feel constantly unwell.
- Anxiety and worry added to my depression. When you are constantly worrying about what may or may not happen, feeling unexplainably unwell, having panic attacks etc, you simply do not feel good about yourself or the world, which only adds low mood, low self-esteem and depression to the list of problems.
- Stress makes me irritable which impacts on my relationships with friends, family and my boyfriend. It starts arguments that didn’t need to be started and turns me into a person I don’t like. I can be so quick to anger and really quite feisty (usually over nothing) when I am in an anxious state. It makes me push those I love the most away from me, at a time I need them the most. Makes lots of sense right? Not!
- Stress affects my sleeping pattern – in fact, most of the time I didn’t have a sleeping pattern, unless a pattern means not sleeping at all. 2-3 hours of interrupted sleep a night is not healthy, nor is it conducive to a healthy and productive day the following day. Stress keeps your mind working into the early hours, worrying and playing over what could or might happen. It’s silly, but it happens to us all at some point. And we are left feeling truly exhausted. Lack of sleep can also add to making us feel unwell – it truly is a vicious circle.
- Stress makes my hair fall out – and no girl wants clumps of hair falling out all over the place!
This non-exhaustive list of ways that worry and stress has affected my life is really quite troubling. We only get one life, and the majority of us are wasting our precious, short lives on worry over what may happen. And I almost guarantee that what we worry about never comes to fruition anyway. And if it does? So what?! We’ll handle it.
How can we worry less?
- Getting into a good frame of mind and repeating positive mantras, with a good level of self-esteem and contentment is a great way to begin to worry less. Easier said than done of course, and often needs time, a counsellor and some serious work. But once you feel more balanced in yourself, you find your ability to deal with stress and external stressors much better.
- Good sleep hygiene and routine will benefit physically and mentally and put us in the best position to deal with the coming days, months, looming events and worries that we may have.
- Writing down our worries can often help to rationalise them. Sometimes as soon as you see them on paper you can see how silly they are, and if not, you can work out how to rationalise them, and how you’d cope if it did all play out the way you are so passionately worrying it might.
- Having a calming routine if you do get into a worrying or stressful situation. Managing to calm yourself down and understanding that you can do so is a great reassurance. I find deep breathing exercises, herbal remedies and being alone and talking to myself really helpful.
- Herbal remedies are a really great alternative to medication and can really soothe you in a stressful situation. I find it works for me anyway. Anything like Kalms, Rescue remedy pastilles or my personal favourite flower solutions are really helpful.
- Belief in yourself and your ability to cope with anything that life throws at you, as well as surrounding yourself with great friends and family who think the same. I have some great friends who are positive, and happy and encourage me to be the same, all the while teaching me positive and calming behaviours which I can apply to my own life.
- Doing lots of exercise and calming activities, as well as having your own time to indulge in hobbies and interests is so calming. I enjoy reading and walking my dog the most – which both so happen to be relaxing pastimes.
- Self help books are wonderful, cheap ways of learning new relaxation techniques.
- Lighting candles always helps me to chill out and relax of an evening.
- Writing down my worries and rationalising them, and writing down after the event if my worry came to light, and if it did, how I coped, always helps me to learn from each event.
- Praising yourself when you tackle something you’ve been particularly worried about.
- Don’t overload your life with things to do, people to see, and race around at 100mph. Allow yourself to slow down, and enjoy even the mundane things in life, for every day is only here once.
- Live in the moment. The saying goes that if we’re we’ve got anxiety we’re living in either the past or the future, and we cannot control that, so if we live in the present we cannot worry…or something to that effect. If we live in the here and now, we cannot panic, because we are ok, and we are coping.
Above all, it is so important we slow down our fast paced lives, stop putting unfair pressures on and setting unrealistic goals for ourselves, and enjoy the ride more. Because let’s face it, on our death beds, we’re only going to remember the good things, and regret the things we didn’t do. So let’s increase the good and eradicate the regret.
Worry less, live more. Our new mantra