I have run my business since 2003 and to say there have been ups and downs is an understatement. I have sometimes felt like I was riding the Tower of Terror and I just could not get the operator to stop the ride. But as the wise old saying goes “this too shall pass” (accredited to Abraham Lincoln but actually can be found in 2 Corinthians 4 v 17 – 18), it did pass. The times that were great passed and the times that were bad passed. But through it all the steady companion of stress stood by my side.
I honestly cannot remember if there was ever a time in my life that I did not feel stress. As a child it was around friends and school and sometimes family. As a young adult it became about my choices for my life and whether they were the right ones. It was also about success and building something with my life. Once I was married it became about being a good home maker, wife, mother. And certainly, once I had kids, my stress levelled up! Am I doing a good job as a parent? Am I damaging my child in some way? Am I creating the next psychopath? Am I good enough?
When I started my business it was a different kind of stress. I had no confidence, I was scared, I was responsible for making my own money instead of earning my own money. As my business grew and the team expanded, the stress of being responsible for the families of my team sometimes got overwhelming.
No topic in my life has escaped the chains of stress. I know that this voice in my head is not always my friend and my thoughts and memories play games with me where I am certain things will work out for the worst. But I have seen more consistently than not that the things I worried about passed and I survived them fairly unscathed. Do not get me wrong. There were times it really was not pretty. In fact, it was pretty ugly. Thinking back now though, I sometimes find it hard to believe I let my stress get so out of control.
These are the biggest lessons I have learned in my life when it comes to stress:
- In the end it will all be ok. No really it will. It might not turn out the way you hoped but it will be ok. It might take a day, a week, a month or more but you will find a solution, or a solution will find you. And sometimes it just goes away.
- Everything happens for a reason. As cliched as this is, I have found that in hindsight things make sense, I have learned lessons and ultimately if I have the right attitude, I am better for it.
- In five years, this stressful moment will not be a big deal. This will pass and eventually just be a memory. And you will look back and know you survived.
- You are smart. You have literally made it through your life to the present day. There may have been ugly moments, but you have thought, struggled, planned and gotten through it.
- Everyone experiences stress, so be compassionate.
I am a stress warrior. And this is what I use to fight my battles:
- I breathe. Sometimes deep long breaths to help me calm down and re-center myself.
- I let go. Seriously, I sometimes find myself stressing about things that are completely out of my control. I know I have no way of influencing the outcome, so I let it go.
- I take a break. If I can, I will try to go away somewhere or just create moments of peace at home. Stay in bed a little later, put a few hours aside to spend with a good friend, read a great book or just sit in the garden with a good cup of tea. Unplug from my digital world.
- I sleep. Routine, routine, routine. I make a real effort to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. I aim for seven hours a night.
- I keep track of my money. Money can cause such stress. I make time to keep a budget and stay on top of my money issues. I really do not want any surprises. This also helps me to plan.
- I want to leave you with some words to keep in mind and make actions in your day to help you deal better with your stress – be positive, slow down, stay calm, take it easy, unplug, have fun, breathe, enjoy life, go outside, relax and finally be kind to yourself.
Causes of stress:
- Divorce or separation
- Job loss or threat of retrenchment
- Money problems
- Work related stress such as bad relationship with your colleagues, work overload, poor management and poor performance
- Moving to a new house
- Getting a job promotion
- Going on holiday
- Poor health
- Relationships challenges
- Living through a pandemic
Signs and symptoms of stress:
- Feelings: anxious, angry, depressed, irritable, sad, frustrated, afraid, tired
- Behavioural signs: withdraw from people, crying or tearful, inflexibility, indecisive, aggressive, misuse substances
- Physical signs: headaches, insomnia, nausea, breathing problems, heart palpitations, aches and pains, indigestion
Actions for week 1:
Goal – Deal better with stress in your life.
- Think about what stresses you out. Take note of what the things are that make you feel, behave and have a physical reaction. As you think about these stress events, become aware of what causes you a greater degree of stress. Rank your stressors.
- Think about why you are stressing about these issues? What are the triggers that make some stressors worse?
- How is the stress you have impacting your life? Are there things you are doing or not doing because of these stresses?
- What are some of the things you can do to lesson your stress? Can you be more organised? Can you cut some things out of your life? Can you talk to someone?
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