Monday, 18 March 2013

Stress : How do you channel it?

Stress is a funny old thing.  It's by no means funny in the ha-ha, laugh a minute or any kind of 'fun' way but it is interesting to see how stress works so differently on people.

I suppose it depends on your level of stress at any one time.  Mild bouts of stress may cause irritable and snappy days.  A day here or there were you think you are not coping as best as you could that results in a good old cry to feel better.  Feeling a bit frustrated - maybe something you wish you could control is just out of your grasp.

A big piece of surprise stress may be dealt with well at the time, but then result in a delayed reaction.  When I gave birth eight weeks early to J1, about five weeks later I broke out in Shingles, a reaction to the shock and stress of the situation I had been involved in - so I was told.

But the worst kind, I think, are those stressful things, that on their own may not seem too condemning, but piled up, one on top of the other again and again starts to make you feel buried.  The light at the end of the tunnel becomes dimmer, the weight on your shoulders heavy.  You try and claw your way through it and some days you may think that you are edging your way to dispelling of some of those pieces of sticking tape to the waste bin for good, then a whole load more gets stuck on top. 

Then all of a sudden you have got so much to deal with you don't know which to start with first.  Some of them you can't tackle at all.  But instead of having a public display of two year old temper tantrum to release you just try and get on with it.  Bury it away.  Put on a smile.  Even though the idea of how to deal with each one starts to seem insurmountable you try and stay calm and sane.  But in you brain it is all building up and at that point, your brain says

"OK I am filled to the brim on my stress level quota, it's starting to spill over, this will result in odd consequences."

Some people go off of their food.

Some people turn to food.

Some people turn to drink.

Some people don't do any of those things but find that all of a sudden they start to have a few medical issues that they don't, at first relate to the stress, but if they thought about it would be pretty clear.

I remember when my dad was made redundant.  It was a few months in and no other job prospect had come to fruition.  He got up one day had a - what looked like a huge blister - the size of a small fist right in the middle of his forehead and this had caused both of his eyelids to swell.  He looked liked Simba out of the Lion King.

This was a very clear physical reaction to the stress.  We hadn't got the slightest inclination that he was feeling that stressed, although in hindsight it was a given really, being the main bread winner of the family.

Our build up of stress has built slowly over the last three years in particular, with a significant increase I would say in the last 12 months.  In that time I have probably been back and forth to the doctor with little annoying ailments more than I ever have.  I can only put it down to a stress reaction and I am pretty sure I can say the same about some of the issues The Hubby has found himself suffering.

These are negative reactions to stress.  Are there any positives?  Could it be that some people have used stress in a productive way?  I have been thinking about this a lot lately, being a generally positive person I do not like it when I can not see the silver lining (or the light at the end of the tunnel) so I started to think about people that have propelled their dreams into reality due to the stress of real life. 

JK Rowling, was a young single Mother when she penned Harry Potter.  We all know the stresses of a small child, but on your own and trying to make a life for you and your child on benefits income must have been an extremely intense and stressful period.
Michelle Mone left school with no qualifications and felt compelled to find work to help her mother financially when illness left her father in a wheelchair.  Taking on modelling, she gave it up when she fell pregnant with her first child but instead found work in Marketing.  Being made redundant from that role, she took a leap of faith to start the Ultimo brand which took some time to make it to recognition.  But Michelle channelled her energy into staying determined, working hard and pushing her dream.  Trying to do that and be a mother must have taken every drain of energy she had.
Oprah Winfrey - need I say more?  If you don't know Oprah's background a short synopsis is here
I guess there are some key ingredients to being successful.  An idea; hard work; trial and error and the determination to get through all the 'error' parts and of course usually somewhere along the line a bit of luck. 
But I wonder - and hope - did these three women (and the many others who have changed their own lives) take the stress of their current situation to help fuel their desire to better their own world? 
Did their overwhelming desire to see light at the end of the tunnel make them overcome a fear of offering up their writing skills for the world to critic?  Did it make them become a better marketer and not afraid to pitch with gusto for contracts on an unknown product?  Did it make them research harder and practise public speaking into a mirror until the early hours of the morning?
What it has made me see is that there is always hope.  There is always a chance to try and make things better.  Some people are unlucky with the chance they take.  I am positive there are many people who deserve to have made their dream come true, that have tried, hard, but not succeeded.
But at least they tried.  And nothing should stop them taking a new dream and running with it.  The sadder situation is the ones where the effort isn't made.  Maybe they don't have quite enough stress to propel them to take that leap or they just can't see past that pile of sticking tape.


  1. I do think the stress of a situation does push people into doing things they might not otherwise, and something positive can come of it. I get ulcers when stressed, and always feel very low and down in the dumps, but when we moved 2 years ago I was left with no job as there was no work in our new town or area that was in my line, after 3 months of looking, I decided just to send out my CV to relevant companies, I sent over 100 and 2 years on I am still successfully working for myself, doing a job I enjoy, and keeping busy and planning my own hours - I would never have done this if I had other options, the stress of knowing we needed my income and I had to do something pushed me to it and made me go outside the normal with an 'I have nothing to lose' attitude, because at the end of the day I didnt but I stood a lot to gain. I never knew Oprah's story - what an amazing woman

  2. I do get very stressed at times and it comes out in all the ways you describe. But I have never got to the point that I've given up, in fact stress does make me try new things just so that I have something else to think about apart from whatever is the cause of the stress, hence the save child benefit campaign, the blog and now my part time job. Interesting post x

  3. Great post. And I loved the examples you used of some very inspirational women - stress tends to load me with depression - and I get snappy and irritable. Unfortunately stress is the disease of our generation - back in the day, when we were hunter gatherers, life was about the moment and loads of exercise - two things really missing in our lifestyles. Just carry on doing what you love Lynsey! X.

  4. I cannot believe I forgot to comment on this post (read it on my phone but hate commenting on that tiny keypad!)

    A certain amount of stress can be a wonderful motivator for change, I agree. But too much, or too much of the wrong kind of stress *for you* can just build up and build up until you feel like you might break. I think the key is knowing which kind of stress is a motivator and which needs to be faced as a stressor alone and dealt with as best you can until the issue is fixed.

    Hope you can figure this one out - stress has a lot to answer for!

    Also I wanted to let you know I have nominated you on my blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award

  5. I agree that a certain amount of stress isn't always bad, but what happens when too much tips you over the edge?

    My own stress point arrived two years ago when my mum was seriously ill. I managed to get through by just taking one day at a time. At work I put everything to the back of my mind and got on with my job. I didn't want to upset my daughters as they were studying for exams, so at home I kept it together. I sobbed every day in the car to and from the hospital though, and this helped a lot. My mum pulled through and eventually life returned to normal.

    Don't be too hard on yourself and remember that in time life will be easier. Good luck x

  6. Beautiful piece here taking us through stress in its many forms. I love that you rise into that last section, showing how stress can turn to one's advantage at the point we seek to overcome it. I work mostly with writers and often find that they are blocked due to stress. I always feel that stress can be halved immediately once we realise that we are not only stressed, but reacting to that as well - doubling the burden. By acknowledging stress, somehow it sifts into something manageable rather than a controlling force. Thanks for sharing this and getting me thinking!


I would love for you to quack your thoughts along with me and will always try and quack right back.