Another post about stress? Yes. A glimpse into my life? Perhaps. It is something that surrounds most adults. When you’re young, you hear the word said without understanding what it means. Grown ups, third year university students, mothers - they all seem to be ‘stressed’ but also, at the same time, wearing it like a badge of honour. So as a kid, stress seemed to me to equal success.
Many times when I was younger I was a chameleon, trying my best to blend into my surroundings, be the same as those around me. The same applied when using the term stress. I started using it to describe how I felt during my second year of university, and I felt quite chuffed. Look at me, working so hard that I’m stressed. Hurrah!
How naive of me. This year I have been jabbed repeatedly with the very sharp end of stress. I have sat hunched over crying in my hands or on my partners shoulder multiple times, overwhelmed and exhausted. I felt like all my energy had been squeezed out of me, and I didn’t have the strength to withstand the pressure or expectation of my job, so I felt utterly crushed. And when you are crushed, you don’t want to eat, or go outside, or chat to friends and family. All I wanted was to escape into the TV or the pages of fiction novels.
And then I found a book about burnout, that feeling when you have experienced repeated and overwhelming stress for so long that you body doesn’t know what to do anymore, so you become exhausted, emotionally flat and hopeless. This wonderful book also talked of the stress cycle, something that your body (we experience our emotions, and especially stress, in our bodies - who the bloody hell knew) goes through each time you are faced with something that stresses you out. The deal breaker here is that you need to complete the cycle each time, otherwise you will eventually become burnt out.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that you, dear reader, face something stressful nearly every day (unless you are, perhaps, a yoga teacher, a watercolour paint artist, or someone that just looks after puppies and kittens every day). If so, you need to know how to finish a stressful day in a way that will complete your body’s cycle. I have been practising and can confirm that the following are pretty effective:
Dance around your room to the Spice Girls, Shania Twain, or the Dirty Dancing soundtrack for at least 20 minutes. Dance like you’re in a pitch black nightclub with only a handful of drunk mates, none of whom give a flying poop about what you look like. Jiggle and wiggle and jump around.
Go for a walk somewhere that is even just a little bit scenic, like a park or past some really well-manicured Wimbledon front lawns. Don’t look at your phone or think about work. Don’t look at the ground, look up! The pavement is gross, but the sky is endless beauty. See the world around you. Breathe in the fresh(ish) air.
Have sex, if you are still the kind of person who has the energy for Tuesday night bangs. Hats off to you, really. If you’re single or living by yourself, have sex with yourself.
Kiss someone for at least 6 seconds - not your mum, or your dog - someone you fancy, like perhaps your partner.