Release your stress – Part 1

29 Jun

Written by Kirri White.  Follow me on twitter or facebook.

You can also contact me by email –  kirri@happymumsathome.com

Stress is common.

With nothing but bad news everywhere you turn (health scares, the economy, widespread natural disasters), people are smothering under a blanket of stress.

What about parenthood?  Stressful much?  Just a teeny bit?

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

When I’m working kid-free style, I can take a solo coffee break, focus on a task for more than twenty consecutive minutes and generally assume a certain level of quiet. Phone calls go uninterrupted and I even get to venture to the bathroom…alone.

Yay! Going to the bathroom with no little person trying to join me, talking though and/or banging on the door because I am a sudden reminder that they also need to go….desperately!

(Insider tip: It’s fast becoming a contractual condition for all mummies who work at home!)

Mummyhood may be splattered with love and the odd moment of unparalleled joy but the constant demands and oftentimes chaos can easily culminate in persistent stress.

This is why I’ve decided to do a series of posts on minimising and releasing stress.

Over the next few weeks, I will share some stress-busting knowledge and strategies aimed at assisting mums.

I will also be putting this knowledge into practice so you can follow my path while simultaneously carving your own.

It will be like going on a super funsky ski trip together, only not so cold and with an instructor who only takes the jumps they know won’t land you in a pile of face-freeze!

I’m not going to delve into the effects of chronic, long-term stress, such as anxiety and depression.  That would be a book.

Identifying sources of stress in your life, prevention and stress management is where it’s at for me.

My focus, as always is on getting the most out of our lives, right here and now, while raising a happy family.

What is stress?

Stress is the emotional and physical strain caused by our response to pressure.

Stress can sometimes be a friend, spurring you into action and helping you function well.  Orchestrating the school run five days a week, planning birthday parties, family holidays, or meeting work deadlines, are everyday examples.

Without some stress, we may just be prone to fulfilling that old cliché of sitting on the couch, eating bon bons and watching Oprah re-runs all day.

Recognising different types of stress

Several years ago my now-hubby (then boyfriend of sorts), decided to follow me back to Australia from South Korea.

I vividly recall how my body was fizzing with excitement when I met him at Sydney airport.I was sweating a whole lot more than I would have liked….at a time when I was hoping to look and smell my best.  My heart rate was elevated, mouth-dry, cheeks flushed (BONUS) and I was incredibly ‘antsy’, pacing back and forth, both hands flailing at my sides.

Looking stupid AND experiencing positive stress? Check.

A hard-core Zumba class, the elation of watching your child perform in their first dance recital, or the creation of a new project, are all examples of good stress.

It’s all relative though isn’t it?  What feels good to me, may not feel good to you.

Individual personalities dictate how events are perceived and physiologically experienced as good or bad stress.

For me, job interviews have always been a source of negative stress and intense nervousness, even when I know I am going to perform well.  The same scenario can evoke feelings of positive stress and excitement for other freaks individuals.

What’s your personal definition and experience of negative stress?

I feel stressed when I believe I am not able to cope with all the demands on me…from my children all wanting my attention at the same time, the unreasonably high expectations I place on myself in both a professional and personal capacity.  I get to a point of overload where I just wish everyone would leave me alone and a feeling that my head is about to erupt!

Think about your personal definition of stress. What does stress mean to you?

How does it affect your thought patterns, relationships, parenting, and the way you feel within your body?

TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO REFLECT AND RECORD YOUR THOUGHTS.

That’s it for today guys.

If you want to take it a step further, keep a ‘stress’ diary over the next week or so and recording the following:

  • Sources of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ stress in your life right now
  • Personal observations ie, how you are currently managing stress
  • Things that you have found helpful or ineffective for managing your stress

Alternatively, you can record your thoughts, experiences, or any questions you might have in the comments section.

I love feedback!

~Kirri

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12 Responses to “Release your stress – Part 1”

  1. The modern parent June 29, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    Great post and certainly something that causes havoc with so many people’s lives. (& now more and more children’s lives too). I find when I feel myself getting stressed about something or a situation isn’t running to plan I ask myself thus question “what’s the worst that can happen?” it helps put things into perspective, break down the problem and realize that the world isn’t going to fall apart! Looking at your triggers for stress as you mentioned is also important and not always obvious for many so a journal is a great way to help recognize these. Look forward to reading some more 🙂

    • Kirri White June 29, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

      Yup! How often do we fail to even consider the possible consequences of seemingy dire events…It’s so easy to get into the habit of going directly into fight or flight mode or get bogged down by the emotional impact of stressors….I’m guilty of that myself.

      Thanks for your input Martine and if any readers have kids that are having issues with stress and anxiety, I recommend you check out her site 🙂

  2. Warwick June 29, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Hi Kirri,
    Great post and particularly relevant to all our lives regardless of our paths, it seems.

    Pressure affects people across the all levels of an organisation, regardless of position. The condition of “stress” is more prevalent in those further down in the organisational structure.

    This leads to my definition. We all experience pressure. Pressure is what raises the adrenaline levels, is what quickens the reactions and sharpens reflexes and is what we become addicted to when overcoming challenges.

    Pressure without control is stress. Pressure, when we feel helpless to deal with it or without the time to process it in our own time can become unbearable.

    In this definition might lie the bones of a solution.

    • Kirri White June 29, 2011 at 10:19 am #

      Great definition Warwick. The pressure to perform and excel at new challenges in any work environment can be both stimulating and addictive. I would pose that even positive stress can turn to negative when it becomes all consuming (speaking to all the workaholics!).

      Your comment “pressure without contol” also hit home and encapsulates the working day of many parents and caregivers – particularly ones with babies and small children (pesky lil creatures can be impossible to control!).

      Thanks for your valuable contribution and insights today.

  3. Terry Murphy June 29, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Great article. I just love reading the way you view and describe things.

  4. countingducks June 29, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Good Post, and the Pressure without control point by Warwick is an exellent definition. The stress of coping with young children, however much you love them, is something I remember well. Worth it in the long run though.Pressure without controland no end in sight is a different thing altogether

    • Kirri White June 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

      I find it comforting when people tell me that they remember the stress of coping with young children well, because it can be both incredibly wonderful and stressful…sometimes in equal measures!

  5. Caz Makepeace July 1, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Stress is definitely a silent killer, not just of physical health, but spiritual well being and relationships. As someone who never used to experience a lot of stress, I can really notice its effects now. This past year has been incredibly stressful for me, and I cannot stand it.
    for me the biggest stress in my life is having the feeling that I cannot control the direction of my life. Right now I am not living the life I desire, thanks to bad financial decisions. So every day I feel like I am suffocating trying to get back to the place I want to be. But, things are slowly turning around which gives me some relief.
    I think this is a great series Kirri as stress is something we all need to learn how to deal with and eradicate from our lives.

    • Kirri White July 3, 2011 at 5:51 am #

      Caz, I think you hit the nail on the head – Stress and locus of control are highly interrelated. The feeling that certain situations are out of our immediate control can be particularly stressful. Financial pressures ditto. One thing that I have gleaned from your written work is that you have a very powerful, positive mental attitude and a history of coping well. Here’s to your success!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Release your stress – Part 2 « Happy Mums at Home - July 8, 2011

    […] THIS is one of the reasons I choose to cover the topics that I do. I sometimes have challenges managing my own stress. […]

  2. Release your stress – Part 2 - July 14, 2011

    […] THIS is one of the reasons I choose to cover the topics that I do. I sometimes have challenges managing my own stress. […]

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