Tag Archives: negative effects of stress

Release your stress – Part 3

18 Jul

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

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

Relaxing.  A word that evokes tangy cocktails with dainty umbrellas, lay-back lounge chairs and dusky-burnt sunsets as a backdrop.

Do you see that too? Right now?  Yeah, you do.

That’s because for so many of us, the idea of relaxing is something to be saved for dream-time and vacations. The one we were planning on taking the last two years and have been saving for the past three.

Life gets in the way.  We are so busy, busy, busy, and then you add children to the mix and that wonderous visualization becomes an even more distant reality..

Who has time to relax? Relaxation is equated with laziness in a lot of households.

We have mouths to feed, mortgages to pay, homes to beautify and some very important creative projects with looming deadlines don’t cha know?

I don’t have time.

The one sentence used by men and women of all ages and backgrounds but so often espoused by mummies.

Why is that?

Because no one can do our job better than we do. No one is needed as much as we are by our children and our partners and husbands.  Lives would fall apart without us at the steering wheel and therefore we must keep moving and keep being everything to everyone.

Until, the time comes when we find ourselves inhaling a pack of Tim Tams every second night, opening a bottle of wine at 3.30pm (and finishing by 6pm) or walking around with a mammoth ball of anxiety clutched to our chests.

Do we have a people-pleaser in da house?

That’s what women are socialised to be from a very young age.  We become adept at intuiting what people want and need. We aim to keep others as comfortable and content as possible, even if it is to our personal detriment, because we think it gives us more value as human beings.

It’s possible to keep going like this for years, if you want to.  But soon enough, body and mind have a way of collaborating to let you know that there is a price to pay.

The ball of stress that is now the size of an elephant following you around every room and obscuring your happiness.

When a farmer grows a crop for many years on the one field, the crop will decline in quality each year. The farmer must rest the field and replenish the soil periodically. Similarly, relaxation is a way of nurturing and replenishing our minds and bodies so that we can continue to grow and flourish. (Dr Cate Howell and Dr Michele Murphy)

The message is clear.

If you want to continue taking good care of others, you need to take care of yourself.

Every day brings some kind of stress to our lives.  Sometimes the stress moves us forward and other times it wears us down.

Left unchecked, stress can severely impede your abilities to lead a happy healthy life.  It’s therefore, imperative that you have a strategy to deal with stress.

In this three-part series I discussed the use of journalling, list-making and scheduling to avoid overwhelm, mindful thinking, and the importance of regular relaxation.  These three steps can be used as a powerful strategy to manage and prevent stress.

You will no doubt know other tactics that are effective for reducing negative stress.  That’s great!  Do what works for you.

But the most important thing is to make yourself a priority.  Make relaxation an everyday priority.

We all know how to relax really don’t we?

I could give you a list of top relaxation practices that are guaranteed to increase stress resistance and promote dreamy contentment and a gooey-body feeling, but you already have your own.

You just have to start practicing them.   Regularly.

Don’t cha?

~Kirri

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Release your stress – Part 2

8 Jul

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

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

Interesting fact…I am writing this around 3am in the morning after less than four hours sleep because I have been stressing over a few business matters that are not currently panning out the way I anticipated.  A barrage of ugly, unwanted thoughts looping on instant replay.

You should have finished that last week. You’re an idiot.

Why didn’t you just talk to him about that idea? The opportunity was right in front of you and you totally blew it.

You forgot to give her some money for the play-date…She would have been embarrassed. Ugh, you’re such a crap mum sometimes!

No wonder you can’t sleep…you had coffee and chocolate for breakfast, then green tea and cake tonight….you know that it still has caffeine in it right?…Serves you right. You’re such a pig too.

Welcome to five seconds in my night-time mind!

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

I worry, experience tension headaches and on occasion am the princess of nasty self-talk.

I’m not always living the life I want to be living, and some of the things I write are for my own benefit, as much as yours.

Reorganise your mind

One of the first things I do when my brain is on overload is to make a list.

So often, the mind becomes overwhelmed by thoughts of all the things that need to be accomplished. Writing them all down really helps to clear those thoughts, feel assured that you won’t forget something important and enable your mind to relax.

Once you have written everything that is weighing your mind down, categorise tasks into two lists: short-term (things that require action now) and long-term (things that need to be done soon but not immediately), then schedule things into your diary.

If you don’t schedule it, chances are, it won’t get done.

I prefer to schedule by the week – you might be a day-to-day person. Do what suits you and don’t overload yourself with actions.  Also, try to complete one big project before moving on to another – its far more gratifying and helps relieve the possible of burden of having five things on the go at the same time.

Handy hint: Keeping a diary or extra notebook and pen by your bedside is great for times when your mind feels bogged down with details or when you have a flash of inspiration. If possible, I would like someone to please invent a waterproof notebook for my shower!

Mindfulness

There are a number of psychological techniques and therapies recommended to relieve stress.

I’m going to focus on just one – Mindfulness, simply because I believe it is one of the most effective.

So what is mindfulness and how can it help reduce negative self-talk and stress?

Mindfulness is paying purposeful attention to the present moment. It is not just an awareness of what you are doing and thinking but being completely attentive to the finer experiential details without judgement.

The way your car handles a bend in the road, the physical sensation of sitting in the driver’s seat and the placement of your hands on the steering wheel….This is mindful driving (as long as you are also paying attention to the road!).

The idea is, that left to wander, the mind indulges in many thoughts and emotions which are often negative. These thoughts are then reinforced by our thinking of them, which leads to more stress and suffering.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool for stress release because it directs awareness away from your negative thoughts and towards an “anchor” – something that brings your awareness back to the present.  It creates a space between your anxious thoughts and feelings and this can be enough to halt spiraling into stress and help promote a peaceful mind.

How can I increase mindfulness in my life?

Sometimes thoughts are hard to control or change so we need to focus on action instead

~Dr. Cate Howell and Dr. Michele Murphy

Practicing the art of mindfulness can be done almost anytime and anywhere.  Whether you are doing the dishes or walking to the mailbox – focus on the activity, engage the senses and be fully present.

Mindful breathing is equally important and something that can be done alone or even with kids.

Yup, we all like to get a little bit Zen together – not such a silly, hippieish thing if you consider that so many of us breathe fast and shallow (especially when stressed).

We all sit cross-legged on the floor with our best ‘ballerina’ posture and inhale/exhale slowly and powerfully.  Sometimes it turns into a giggle-fest but just doing this 3-5 times a day, whether together or sitting in front of the lap top is a guaranteed mini-break and stress-deterrent.

It’s also the most basic form of meditation and I feel sure that it will benefit my girls in the years ahead.

 So today I challenge you to get some of those negative thoughts out on paper, organise your to-do lists and practice living a more mindful life.

Don’t forget to come back next week for the final post of my ‘Release your stress” series.    I will be focusing on the importance of relaxation, specifically targeted to those parents who fail to make themselves a priority in their own lives.

Have a Happy day and please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section below.  We can all learn from one another and you will make me giddy with excitement!

~Kirri

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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