A Deeper Look at Stress

Are you Stressless or Stressful or somewhere in between. 

Let’s have a brief look at stress with some Grow Wisdom added in.

Story: I was a child when I was savagely attacked by a huge Alsatian. I was on a message to bring home a “bottle” of milk. The dog was owned by the shopkeeper – a guard dog. The dog was out loose when I got to the shop. I blanked out to what happened next.

Feelings: Waves of mental fear, anxiety, and stress, still surface in my body from time to time. That attack happened more than sixty years ago! Thankfully those waves are mostly ripples now – although, with an occasional wave.

I was told

• a detective came and shot the dog on the spot with a single shot.

• the owner’s protests didn’t stop the dog being killed.

• the owner said, “the dog is entitled to his first bite”! BUT he had bitten before!

Stressor: So, there, you have it. Dogs can be my stressor, even now. But especially if I meet a fierce looking one while I’m out walking alone, maybe a Rottweiler.  Growing up, there was usually a small dog at home, e.g., a terrier. When I got married, we had a Labrador, a Border Collie and then five dogs! I was always comfortable with them. Their wagging tails tell me they are my friends – my best friends. I love when they snuggle up beside me. They all played their part in helping me recover.

What is stress? Stress is our body’s reaction to feeling threatened or feeling under pressure. Stress is very common. Good stress can help us achieve day-to-day activities, and meet the demands of home, work, and family life. Too much stress can affect our mood, our body, and our relationships – especially when we feel out of control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable and affect our self-esteem.    Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time can also lead to a feeling of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, often called burnout. I think we’ve all experienced stress and anxiety with Covid-19 which has been around for nearly two years now. We also have the extra financial pressure, this time of year – the media try to pressure us, to spend, spend, spend on what we don’t always need for Christmas.

What stresses you? _________________________________

Signs of stress: The first signs of being stressed are physical, such as tiredness, headaches, or an upset stomach. When we feel stressed, we can find it hard to sleep or eat well. Not eating nutritious food and lack of sleep can both affect our physical health. This can make us feel more stressed emotionally.

Hormones: When we feel anxious, our bodies release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. These are the body’s automatic way of getting the body ready to respond to a threat. This is called the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response. If you’re    often stressed, then you’re most likely making a lot of these hormones. Catching them early can stop you feeling physically unwell and can protect your health in the longer term. Sometimes, the answer can be as simple as taking yourself out of a stressful situation.

What helps? There are measures we can take to limit our exposure to stress. Check out some tips that follow that can help. Add your own below.

• Weekly Grow Meeting: Remember our weekly Grow meeting and the twelfth step (e.g., a walk, a movie) are great supports. If you’re finding it difficult to bring yourself to go, remember – “I can compel my muscles and limbs to act rightly inspite of my feelings” page 24 “ The Grow Program Book”.

• Break up big tasks: We do this at our weekly meeting. If a task seems overwhelming and hard to start, breaking it down into smaller parts helps. Commend yourself when you finish it. Example, tackle clutter, one drawer or one box at a time.  Remember – “Give yourself a pat on the back for each little victory” page 32 “The Grow Program Book”.

• Plan: When planning any upcoming stressful days or events, making a to-do list, a list of the things you need to bring, and checking out the journey or route you need to make on a map or bus timetable – can really help lower stress.

• Be more active: Meet up with members of your local group for a walk in the countryside or on the beach. Being active can help you to burn off nervous energy. It won’t necessarily make your stress disappear, but it can make it less intense. A chat on the way and a cuppa afterwards can be a great tonic.

• Make a Budget: This is an important time of year to review our finances. If money is tight, making a budget of income and expenditure can help us keep within budget.  Getting into debt can be stressful. I have learnt that loans are expensive.

*** What do I find helps? ________________ _________________ _______________

I hope this short article on stress reminds you that you can have some control over stress.

Remember, that you have the support of your group, and you are not alone in coping with stress.

My hope for us all as we approach Christmas is that we all experience “the best in life, love and happiness” page 100 The Grow Program  Book.

With my very best wishes, Stay Safe, George.

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