Stress is no longer a badge of honour – and it’s really bad for your health

Stress-ZebraStripes

It’s exam time again. But this time I’m approaching things differently. I’m taking as many deep breaths as I can, doing what I can do and attempting, at all times to keep a level head. Obviously I want to do well and I’m putting in the hours to do my best to ensure that happens but I don’t want to take too much of a battering in the process. Already my neck feels stiff, my eyes are tired and my hip flexors are tighter than tight – all the consequence of longer hours spent at a desk and staring at a screen.

Throughout my revision and indeed every module of the course to date, each nugget of nutritional guidance and wisdom is underpinned by “support protocol with stress management and relaxation techniques”. But even the finest nutritional protocol – we’re talking wheat grass shots for breakfast, gold encrusted quinoa for lunch – can be totally undermined by stress.

Stress is brutal. Stress is a chemical reaction tearing through your body. It doesn’t discriminate. Stress will burn through every single reserve you have in your body leaving you with a clapped out immune system, the propensity for stomach ulcers, heart disease and a generally miserable existence.

When Mothership died, my ability to manage stress went flying out the crematorium window. I found pressures of any kind more difficult to deal with yet I refused to acknowledge, admit or even recognise that was happening. I kept going and going; spinning a thousand plates. I was tired. Even too tired to appreciate the sense of satisfaction that came from achieving whatever had brought on so much stress in the first place. It stopped being worth it.

Now I work towards other things. I genuinely want to live to 100 – in the happiest, healthiest way possible. I walk every day for at least thirty minutes, I enjoy every single meal that I sit down to eat and do my absolute best to ensure the food I eat is as nourishing as possible (of course, sometimes you just need cake for nourishing reasons…). I aim for bed at 10pm, never make it, but usually notch up seven hours of solid sleep regardless.

I nip the rising stress beast in the bud as soon as I possibly can. When I’ve used the c-word (at home, to myself – sorry Sis!!) in reference to an app not working (I know, I know…) I’m now able to recognise how hideous that is, step back and, on that occasion earlier this week, force myself to lie down for just a minute (that was all it took) to rebalance the madness.

Sometimes I worry I’m selling myself short, not doing enough, not proving enough. But to who? And to what end? I’m happier, a lot happier this way. I love life and I want to be here for as long as I can to enjoy it.

Do you put yourself under unnecessary amounts of pressure? Would you be better off with less stress in your life?

5 thoughts on “Stress is no longer a badge of honour – and it’s really bad for your health

  1. Yes! I’m a massive stress head lately, despite knowing how bad it is for me and how it doesn’t actually help at all. Especially as I’m stressing over the stupidest stuff. Thank you for the reminded to get it under control. Good luck with your exams!

  2. Hi Ruth I too have just done a major exam, in psychology, as well as working full time with a child on the autism spectrum and running a home and trying to eat well. Stressed out was an under statement and unfortunately the thing that could give and did was my eating. I ate so much rubbish I felt and still do feel yuk. I have got back to planning, shopping and cooking fresh healthy food again but I think the toll the stress and food have had on my body will take a while to subside. I ended up with pains in my head like someone was sticking a knife in and it was all attributed to stress. I would definitely be better off with less stress in my life and when I had less stress I weighed less too just not possible until my study is done and even then it’s probably not going to ease for quite a while due to life changes that I know are happening. I think I need to learn how to manage my stress better for my final exam next October. All the best with your exam Jennie : )

    • Hi Jennie, it’s so lovely to hear from you and get an insight into your own personal story. Those headaches are brutal, aren’t they?! And just one of the many ways that stress manifests itself. Good luck with all your course and keep, wherever possible, grabbing even the smallest of moments to yourself. It’s lovely to read your thoughts, thanks for taking the time to share them.

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