I spent New Year’s Eve on my own, in the comfort of my bed with a heat pack on my tummy. I’m not looking for sympathy, I rather enjoyed feeling comfortable, snuggled in bed (and if I am to be completely honest (slight whispering here)), I found a new series on Netflix! LOL!

I’m not one to watch much television, not that I don’t like it, it’s just that for me, I prefer to spend my free time being creative. Sitting in front of the television seems a waste of precious creative moments that I didn’t have enough of previously.

Stress over the past month due to a situation I had at work in late November resulted in an extremely serious bout of Diverticulitis that, in turn, created even more stress, as a similar episode resulted in me undergoing surgery and having to wear a colostomy bag for much of 2015.

Stress can be triggered by fear and anxiety, but what IS stress exactly?

I’ve been thinking about how to explain it – something everybody’s heard of. The dictionary defines it as “…a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances…” In that regard then, fear is similar -“…an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm. Can you begin to recognise how stress and fear are interrelated?”

The question then becomes: How does one eliminate stress? Well, a quick, but not easy answer: Eliminate the source. But how? It’s easier said than done…

Lately, I’ve been practicing identifying exactly where the sources of my stress are stemming from. Then, I’ve been drilling down into those sources to find out why they were causing me stress. In my case, there were multiple sources…

It’s often easier to identify the more obvious sources of stress – major event(s) such as a shit thing happening to you, car accidents, a change in career, moving house, the loss of a loved one. However, pinpointing the more subtle sources of everyday stress can be a lot more complicated.

It’s all too easy to overlook one’s own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that often work in concert to contribute to increased stress levels. For example, one may realize they’re constantly worried about work deadlines, but it could be that stress over deadlines are actually the result of procrastination, rather than the actual job demands that are the root cause.

I’m realizing too that what creates debilitating stress in one person, may not have the same affect on another, so what works to relieve stress in one person might not with another. For example, one may find that trying simple-sounding ideas for managing or reducing stress and find that they really aren’t that helpful.

Indeed, an effective stress-management relies on a tested, comprehensive approach that includes both an awareness of its root cause (which could be, and often is different in each individual), as well as lifestyle changes.

Personally, I’ve found the following modalities to be very effective in significantly reducing mine:

• Exercise. Walking is a great stress reliever! • Connecting with others. • Regular therapy sessions with a licensed therapist to assist me in processing and talking about the event(s), and actually leaning into with what is upsetting me. • Practicing Gratitude for where I am and for what I have and what I do have control over. • Meditation. • Acceptance… Of the things that I cannot change. • Rest. Making sure get enough sleep. I’ve allowed myself some time for an occasional afternoon nap and to sleep in later in the morning if I don’t need to be somewhere. • Being away of my thoughts. • Self Love. Being kind and Forgiving to Myself. • Eating well (stayed on liquids for 2 weeks during the diverticulitis). • Laughter – having people around that you can share a laugh with. There is nothing more uplifting than a wholesome belly laugh.

Also, surrounding myself with people who understand me; who are positive and motivated has also helped me tremendously. Being in a positive, goal-focused mindset rather than dwelling on past events has helped tremendously.

Finally, this 30-day, Writing Challenge has also helped immensely. Getting my thoughts and feelings out has been an awesome release; a weight off my shoulders. I’ve read each of my articles well over 20 times. I love seeing how I worded things; how my emotions finally expressed in writing has been so cathartic.

What techniques or activities do you employ to help you deal with stressful situations?


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