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Sunday, 10 September 2017

My Stream of Consciousness Part 4: The destructive power of stress

Hi there you beautiful beings of the blog-o-sphere! 

Today, I want to talk a little bit about stress. I cannot remember the last time I went a whole day without stressing about something, whether it be of significance or the most minor thing ever. Stress can have such a destructive effect on our physical and mental health and our overall happiness and way of living. For me, stress is not talked about enough, yet it dictates so many people’s everyday lives. These thoughts that I am having today, were spurred by a quote I found this morning by the late American writer Mark Twain, as seen below...

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This quote really resonated with me, as it pretty much sums up my life. I spend so much time worrying and stressing over so many things for what? It hasn’t led me to achieve greatness, it certainly hasn’t helped my well-being over the years and I doubt it ever will. All stress has done for me is wasted so much of my mental energy and has taken up so much space within my brain, giving me nothing in return. Most of the things I worry about are things that are either out of my control or are hypothetical scenarios that will most likely not happen. Sometimes the things I stress about are things that were in the past or haven’t even happened yet, the things I stress about are almost never regarding what is occurring in this very moment. When I am in the present moment, I am not worrying about what happened in the past or worrying about what happens in the future, I am just focusing on the right now. In order to be in the moment, one needs to accept everything that has happened in your life from past up to present. To become whole and recover from our brokenness, we must first accept it and treat ourselves with kindness and compassion. By becoming whole we are not trying to be perfect, we are simply accepting all aspects of ourselves and embracing the fact that we are all flawed human beings, and celebrating this truth.

So much of the time we ponder and dwell on unfortunate moments we have had in our past. Yet, some of the most awful and embarrassing moments that we have, become some of the funniest and most memorable ones, that we look back on and laugh and share with our friends and family at dinner parties in years to come. Those are the stories that show our humanity to others. Instead of hiding the mess we have created, we should share it and celebrate it and learn from it, and most importantly be proud of it. Without the tricky parts, we wouldn’t be here. We allow stress to take over far too much of our time, and in recent years I have learnt to take the time to acknowledge when I am feeling particularly stressed and to take some time out to breathe, come back to the present moment and realise that overall I have a pretty decent life and the things I am stressing about are pretty futile on the grand scheme of things. It helps me to talk through my stresses and to recognise that they are mainly irrational and are coming from too much overthinking. At some points I would stress so much that I would lie awake all night, watching the hours go by and as a result I would get no sleep which would make me more stressed. Now if I do have those moments of stress, I will listen to a podcast, watch a short video, read a chapter of a book, text a friend or listen to a few songs until I then forgot about those worries and went to sleep. The things I would stress about were so irrational and pointless, yet at the time they seemed like the most important and pressing concerns in my life. One thing that helped me was going to sleep earlier, as most of my stressing would happen when I was getting a late night, and to take care of myself by taking deep breaths, having a shower, treating myself to a cup of tea and an indulgent treat, writing my thoughts down and also looking into the art of mindfulness. I used to think mindfulness or meditation was stupid and useless and a complete waste of time, however just five minutes of mindfulness can alter my entire mindset and clear my thought process.

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I’d be interested to know what your guys thoughts are on stress, how you deal with it, and whether you have any techniques you can recommend?

- Olivia Charlotte Alice 

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