By Eileen Strong Therapeutic Massage & Holistic Complementary Therapist
“STRESS” is a much easier word to say than it is to define. But it’s something we have all experienced at some time in our lives to some degree. In this post, I’m going to talk about two types of stress-trigger. Helping people identify and understand their specific, key stressors is, I believe, the first step to feeling more empowered and becoming stress-free.
What is stress?
Stress comes from the pressures that we feel in life, and how we react to them. It is quite normal to feel anxious and become stressed when facing something that upsets the normal balance of day to day life.
When we feel healthy and happy, and our life force energy is strong and vibrant, our resilience to stress is much higher than after we’ve been ill, for example, or if we’ve experienced a series of stressful events close together that have had a knock-on effect and deteriorated our energy and vitality.
Our thought patterns, perceptions and life experiences also shape our responses to stressful situations. People who tend to think negatively are often more prone to suffering from stress than people who have a sunnier outlook. But all of us experience stress. It’s a part of life.
So how stressed are you?
Here is a short list of some symptoms you might experience when you are stressed for any length of time.
* Obsessive thinking
* Behaviour changes - aggression, withdrawal
* Digestive upsets – bloating, constipation, diarrhoea
* Headaches, impaired memory
* Muscular tension and pain, neck shoulder and low back pain, cramps, muscle spasms
* Palpitations, chest pain, high blood pressure
* Anxiety, loss of humour, depression, negative thoughts,
* Inability to concentrate and difficulty making decisions
* Weaker immune system and being more susceptible to illness
If symptoms are present, I will always ask you when they first started as this information is very meaningful and relevant in identifying your key stress triggers.
So what might a key stress trigger be for you?
The Sledgehammer Trigger:- this is a stress trigger that comes completely out of the blue at you and hits you hard, like a sledgehammer. It is unexpected, dramatic, leaves you feeling isolated, with no strategy to deal with. In that moment, your brain takes a full snapshot of the entire event as you see it, and your “fight or flight” response is triggered. Now you are STRESSED. Examples: a scary medical diagnosis, a redundancy notice, or a deeply hurtful comment.
The Drip-Drip-Reminder Trigger:- this is a stress trigger that happens any time you get a conscious OR subconscious REMINDER of your Sledge-hammer trigger. Remember, your brain took a snapshot of that entire event and recorded everything you noticed in that one dramatic moment. So when anything comes up to remind you of that situation, through your own thoughts, environment, or situations that make you feel angry, nervous, frustrated, or anxious, your fight or flight response gets triggered. For example: seeing a doctor in a white coat reminds you of the doctor who gave you that scary diagnosis and triggers a mind-body stress response.
You might not be consciously aware of what the trigger is. You just might notice the symptoms or feel panicky and anxious.
So what can you do to help?
Let's not forget that your body’s response to stress is part of an intelligent, highly sophisticated process designed to keep you safe from danger. If our primitive cave-dwelling ancestors had not been so equipped, then they wouldn't have survived at all, and would we be here to tell their tale?
And stress – like many other things in our lives – has to be managed. To do this effectively, we need to understand what makes us stressed, learn alternative ways to deal with it, and support ourselves in the healing and recovery process on 6 levels; mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental. Of all these areas, lets just take a look today at ways to support your body.
Helping your body repair and re-balance:-
Nutrition - Poor diet can lower your resilience to stress (e.g. low levels of Vit B12, depleted Magnesium levels). Book a consultation at Acorn with our Naturopathic Nutritionist Helen Duffy for expert advice.
Medication- Be aware that certain drugs can contribute to symptoms of stress and anxiety, including caffeine, nicotine, cold remedies, thyroid medications. You may be able to explore more natural alternatives.
Exercise – Even 20 minutes brisk walking a day can make a difference. It’s an instant calm-me-down when you’re feeling tense, and boosts the body’s feel-good chemicals. Walk, swim, do sport, cycle, dance. Whatever you can manage. As often as you can.
Sleep – between the hours of approx 8 pm and 8 am your body is busy repairing, renewing and re-balancing itself. This is why symptoms can sometimes feel stronger at night. So give yourself plenty of rest. If you feel tired, listen to your body and try to rest. If you are not sleeping well, contact me for my free Deep Sleep information sheet for more practical tips on this subject.
Therapies - alternative and complementary therapies are wonderful for relaxation and re-balancing on all levels of being. Try massage therapy, Indian Head Massage, reflexology, Hopi Ear Candles. Talk therapies such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Hypnotherapy are also wonderful approaches to support you in making positive life changes and developing greater mental resilience. Visit the Acorn Booking Page to see whats on offer.
Relaxation – set aside some quality 'Me Time' at least once a week, if not on a daily basis (soak in the bath, reading a book, a country walk etc). Meditation and Mindfulness techniques can help too. Get in touch with Acorn to check the dates of our next classes.
I hope you found this post of interest. If you are experiencing stress-related symptoms, and would like to learn more about identifying and managing your key stressors, I’d be delighted to hear from you. I offer a 6 part stress management program that may be of interest to you, and also offer 1-2-1 sessions in relaxation and talk therapies.
You can book a FREE no-obligation consultation with me via the Acorn website, or contact me direct: Contact Eileen Strong: Tel/Text 07745 409059.