Are You Affected by Relentless Stress?

stress headSo here we are, in a world with a million time saving devices and we’re more time poor than ever. We’re constantly rushing around trying to get everything done and never seeming to do it.

There are new syndromes popping up all over the place “rushing woman’s syndrome”(which apart from the menstrual imbalances, could probably apply to rushing men too), adrenal fatigue, and mental load (the mental drain that comes from having to be on top of remembering and organising all the little things).

A quarter of Australians are sleep deprived. Three quarters of us say stress negatively impacts our lives.

WTF!

That is tooooo much stress for tooooo many people for way toooo long.

We seriously need to kick the stress habit.

Ok. I know there are some things that are unavoidable. I see plenty of people that have one thing happen after another. Not much you can do to change those things. But we can try to change what we can.

Are you suffering from relentless stress? Maybe you need to drop the relentless standards. You know the ones that say you should be the perfect person and have all your shit together and live in a model home where you could eat off the floor and never be tired and never be cranky and never look like something the cat dragged in.

I can guarantee you I have days where I’m a feral, tired, cranky cow walking over food that was left from preparing last night’s dinner (I would definitely NOT eat that off the floor) with lank hair and panda eyes from the make-up I couldn’t be bothered taking off last night.

Nobody is perfect! Often.

Want to stop the relentless stress? Maybe stop the relentless pushing. I have a hard time with this one sometimes. Let’s face it, there is a lot to do. And sometimes if you don’t do it, it actually doesn’t get done. But…..ask yourself this question…what is your life worth?

Is it worth staying up til all hours making sure ALL the washing is done and folded and ironed? Can it wait if you’re really tired? So what if the whites aren’t done. Wear black for the rest of the week. It’s harder to see the stains anyway. Win. Win.

Is it worth staying back at work to finish that thing so you don’t have the unfinished thing hanging over your head? Wouldn’t it be better to learn to let it go and spend some time with your family, your friends or yourself and come back to work feeling refreshed rather than depleted?

So you get the point. Or let me spell the point out so you don’t have to use any mental load on thinking about it.

We need to start treating ourselves as a priority.

As number one.

As a human being who has human limitations.

As someone who deserves to feel stress-free and happy.

So do it 🙂

I Can’t Adult Today

Tanty ChuckerLet’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to be an adult.

You don’t get to play all day. You can’t wear dress up clothes as part of your standard daily dress and you can’t hold onto the door handle while your mum tries to drag you away because you don’t want to go to work.

No. Fun. At. All.

Sometimes, despite our best intentions to be adult, we still behave like children. This is great if that means finger painting and seeing how high you can go on the swing. This is not great if it involves throwing tantys that hurt other people or make us feel bad about ourselves.

It’s surprisingly easy to be at the mercy of our emotions. Which translates to: it can be surprisingly easy to have tantys.

If you had parents that were tanty chuckers,

or you had parents that didn’t soothe you when you were upset as a kid,

or parents who didn’t teach you how to soothe yourself (not the “get over it” variety of soothing),

or if you lived in a highly charged environment where you were on alert all the time,

chances are you didn’t learn good emotion regulation.

Emotion regulation is what stops the bad emotions escalating, that stops the overwhelm, that stops the tanties.

The problem is, if we haven’t learnt the language of emotion regulation, we probably can’t recognise when we’re winding up until it’s too late.

I thought it might be possible to have technology help with recognising our rising emotions. I thought a heart rate monitor could  beep a warning as our rising heart rate indicated rising emotions but my research revealed they’re not sensitive enough.

*****If anyone knows of one that is accurate and sensitive please let me know.*****

So I guess it’s back to doing it the standard way.

Dan Siegel, one of my favourite neuro psychs recommends a little strategy called “Move it or lose it”in his parenting book “The Whole Brain Child”.

Basically, when you feel yourself winding up, move your body or lose your sh*t. Star jumps, a run around the block, anything that diverts the emotion and uses the adrenalin that’s surging for some sh*t losing.

Yes, that’s correct. This is a strategy to teach children but ….if we haven’t learnt the language of emotion regulation, why not start with our a’s, b’s and c’s!

So whether your emotional storms are screaming rages, deer in the headlights overwhelm, or silent withdrawal from what’s around you, it’s never too late to learn emotion regulation.

If you want to know more about emotion regulation let me know.

How Hard It Is to Accept What Is

SufferingHere’s where I eat humble pie.

You may have heard me talk about inevitable and optional suffering (Buddhist concept and extremely relevant to our life happiness).

So it goes like this: some suffering is unavoidable – someone dies, you break a bone, or you get fired from your job because your company is downsizing. Optional suffering is avoidable. It’s the sh*t we put on top – “this is terrible”,  “I can’t stand it”, and “why did this have to happen to me?”.

Basically, it’s the optional suffering that makes us truly unhappy. Because the other stuff just is. It’s the kind of stuff that happens to everybody. It’s a part of everyday life. Granted – it is sh*t but not as sh*t as optional suffering would have us believe.

If you look at it like this… if it were just sh*t and not the universe punishing us for something, or we weren’t fighting against it being how it is (double bad-feeling-whammy because then we also feel helpless because we can’t change what is), or we weren’t lamenting how awful it is, we could just get on and deal with the inevitable suffering.

We would have a lot more internal resources to manage the inevitable suffering because they wouldn’t be used elsewhere dealing with the suffering we choose to add on.

Sounds reasonable right?

Well, speaking from personal experience, it’s pretty bloody hard. I know that it’s easier not to fight against what is, not to add the “not fair”, “shouldn’t be this way”, etc etc. And yet, there are times where coming to an acceptance of what is, is really tough.

Sometimes it feels like not fighting against it is giving up rather than accepting. Sometimes it feels like accepting is saying the bad situation is ok and it’s ok if it continues. Sometimes accepting makes you feel powerless when you think you should be more in control of your life.

And these are just some of the reasons that giving up optional suffering is so hard. Trust me, I know!

So while I’m wrestling with my own optional suffering, I’m reminding myself of the things that I would be telling you. If you’re indulging in some optional suffering too then this might help you:

  • Nothing is permanent – every situation will and does change. You will not be here forever.
  • Accepting is not saying it’s ok – accepting is acknowledging you can’t change this right now. It doesn’t say you like it or approve of it or want it to continue.
  • Fighting for your equanimity (emotional balance) is a fight you’re more likely to win than fighting against what is. And you’ll feel better for it.
  • If you’re feeling powerless, then learn to sit with feeling powerless (that’s the inevitable suffering in many situations) rather than being angry (or however it comes out) to try to feel more in control.

So I hope that helps you – if not now then sometime in the future.

Thank you to you all for letting me learn through you.

How to be Authentic

Authentic or NotBeing Authentic (deliberate capital A) is something we’re told we should aspire to. We’re also told someone Authentic does it easily without a care in the world, without even having to think about it.

According to this view, if we’re not comfortably and easily being ourselves – our Authentic selves – then clearly there’s something wrong with us.

The thing with being Authentic is that it comes with risks.

If you find it important to be liked then being Authentic could mean rubbing people up the wrong way.

Oprah says something to the effect of “You know when you’re being yourself because there will be at least 5 people who are upset with you.”

Mark Manson who wrote The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck says about being Authentic “You can’t be an important and life-changing presence for some people without also being a joke and embarrassment to others.”

So if looking like a fool makes you wish the earth would open up and swallow you, maybe being Authentic will be quite a challenge.

But what if you could assure yourself that these challenges and risks to how people see you were normal? What if you could assure yourself that the payoff – the good things that come from being Authentic (better relationships, a greater sense of integrity, more confidence in yourself – outweighed the risks?

Then you could make the choice in each moment to follow the Authentic path.

You could choose to keep the peace……. or you could choose to stay true to yourself and invite conflict.

You could choose not to dance because you think you look stupid……. or you could let go and have an authentically great time.

You could choose to keep your vulnerability to yourself so you don’t look ‘weak’ ……or you could share your Authentic vulnerable self and be rewarded with more intimacy in your relationships.

Brene Brown reports that her research says that Whole-Hearted People (who describe themselves as Authentic) work at being Authentic. It’s not just an idea for them. It’s a practice.

To make this a practice, try this little exercise. For one week, notice and write down how many times you make the decision to be Authentic and how many times you choose to take the less authentic path because it’s easier.

Then for the next week try to halve the less authentic decisions.

Then the next week halve them again.

It could be tough. It could be uncomfortable. But I’m guessing it will be incredibly rewarding.

Let me know how you go.