Stress – ‘…Oh I say it’s tough, I have had enough, can you stop the cavalry? (sound familiar?)
How can we best look after ourselves during our perimenopause? (and with the Christmas countdown starting too – with less than 4 weeks to go)
Stress – a ‘whole body’ response. Our ‘fight & flight’ response, as if we are back in pre-historic times & running away from that sabre tooth tiger….heh?
When we are feeling stressed, it is a reminder that if we ‘change our thoughts, we change our reality’.
Has your ‘stress bucket’ got too full and crikey you’ve added the Christmas countdown planning in too – eek!?
Our stress bucket works on the premise that if it gets too full, then the result is, it overflows and you get overwhelmed.
I often describe stress to my clients as being a bottle of fizz. It gets shaken up to the point that when we attempt to take the lid off, we have an explosion of bubbles on our hands, because we’ve kept our stress suppressed & pushed down & then it has a habit of seeping out, leaking, or exploding all over our clothes, when we look to take the cap off. So, it is all so important to let it out.
The key is to notice when it is starting to get really full & then we can use the tap or spout to let out any potential stress with our self-care strategies.
So, what’s in your ‘stress bucket’? (Or maybe you’ve lost track of how full it has become…)
It may be full to the brim of work, career challenges & pressure, managing family life – kids, teens & partners, aging and/or sick parents, financial issues, dealing with change, lack of sleep, poor diet, personal life, Christmas(…fill in the blanks for yourself or add to your bucket)
And with our peri and/or menopause physical & emotional symptoms added in (stress & anxiety being two of them), we can feel ourselves going crazy!
Stress can affect us on a physical level because you are producing a hormone called cortisol. Therefore, it is so important to have self-care routine & rituals to remain calm, to chill out and relax and to remember we have the power to guide our emotions. A gentle approach is the best solution. Make the journey in your head & your heart.
So, what symptoms might we experience?
Symptoms can be manifest in our bodies and as the saying goes ‘our body keeps score’.
Symptoms of stress can be about our digestive issues. All digestive function halts when the nervous system is in excited mode, which can leave food eaten hanging around and causing gas and bloating, as well as contributing to food intolerances. Digestion needs calm to happen, and poor function can affect all body systems. You may have heard the phrases the ‘gut brain axis’ & our gut ‘being our 2nd brain’. The vagus nerve helps manage the complex processes in your digestive tract, including signalling the muscles in your stomach to contract.
Our shifting mood can be a symptom too of stress – irritation, frustration & low mood.
Skin flare ups or a dull/grey pallor, random aches & pains, chest pain, loss of libido, & headaches can be added into the mix too. Stress can affect our immunity. Stress reduces levels of our beneficial gut bacteria, probiotics, which govern immune modulation or how appropriately (or not) our immune system responds. Over–response can mean chronic inflammation, as seen in conditions like arthritis, acne and heart disease or auto-immune conditions like lupus where the immune system attacks ‘self’. Short-term stress can be good for us and causes a boost of immunity, but long-term, it becomes suppressed and unable to fight off infection.
Tense muscles – do you have those? Our breath gets locked in our upper chest & shoulders. Stressed breath is directed up into the chest and shoulders.
A key sign that stress is wandering into adrenal fatigue or burnout territory, is noise and light sensitivity, even a need to retreat away from all stimulus and other people. So, our eyes & ears can be affected too.
Things that help when feeling stressed – have a shower, get plenty of sleep, go outside in nature, indulge in a hobby, call a friend or loved one, tick something off the ‘to do list’ (particularly useful for Christmas coming & prioritising what’s important), say no when you need to – have boundaries, eat a snack, drink some water, remind your inner voice to be kind.
Mindfulness, meditation & breathing (4,5,7 technique or ‘bellying breathing’ – google is your friend)
I’m a big fan of Dr Chatterjee & recently in his weekly emails he suggested four quick-fix stress solutions to help your body release any unwanted tension at moments of anxiety.
For me, my ‘go to’ is exercise – going for a walk out in nature to shift these feeling & emotions (with a pooch)
So, I wonder what your pocket of self-care & rest is as your daily non-negotiable to help your shake off your stress and get your through the Christmas festivities with your mood & physical stress symptoms intact?
Therapy can help – to listen to you, allowing healthy venting to let your emotions hit the air & work together to look at strategies to manage your stress. Contact me to discuss counselling. I offer a free 20-minute introduction to see if I am the right therapist for you.