This guest blog is from Nerys Hutchins, a qualified massage therapist, reflexologist, aromatherapist and teacher of baby massage. Nerys explains the detrimental effects of stress:
Having spent many years working in unsatisfying jobs within the financial services sector, I was lucky enough to stumble into a career which had the complete opposite effect. Eight years ago, I qualified as a massage therapist and went on to gain further qualifications in reflexology, aromatherapy and teaching baby massage. No two days are ever the same and I can honestly say my job fills me with a passion I hadn’t known existed within me before. Now, I get to spend my days promoting natural health and working with clients to help them feel better. I can’t imagine a better job!
Stress is often seen as on overused word these days. All too frequently, you will hear someone say they are “stressed out”. But just because it’s used more frequently, does that mean we should ignore it?
There’s no denying that life carries with it a certain amount of stress and experts often say that some level of stress is good for us as it can help optimise performance and focus the mind. But this really applies to controlled situations over a short period of time, for example having to meet a deadline at work. What do we do when that burst of stress continues with no definite end?
Prolonged amounts of stress can have a major impact on our lives and our health. At a basic level, it can lead to exhaustion and an inability to function properly. Decision making, even simple decisions, can become almost impossible as the brain and body become overloaded. Our ability to care for others can be impacted; some people may become withdrawn and introverted, others may become hyperactive and overbearing. Our health can start to suffer in a variety of ways – over or under-eating, fatigue, muscular tension and aches, headaches, sleeplessness. The list is endless and that’s without looking at the more serious problems prolonged or high levels of stress can cause.
Major events such as divorce or separation are full of uncertainty. How long will it take? What does the process involve? How much will it cost? How will life change, both during and afterwards? Even the most efficient planner would be hard pressed to predict what parts of the process will cause the most stress and plan for those accordingly. And that’s before we even think about the emotional impact such an event can have.
So should we just accept that it will be incredibly stressful and hope we come out the other side ok? The answer is a resounding NO! Sadly, there is no one who can wave a magic wand and make everything better but there are many forms of support out there to help you through a stressful time and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Everyone’s situation is different so there is no definitive answer on what to do and when to do it but here are a few things to bear in mind.
Identify the cause of your stress
You’re going through a divorce. Sounds like a glaringly obvious answer doesn’t it? But there are so many aspects to consider. Try to work out what part of the process is causing you the most stress right now and don’t forget, this may change over time. Working out the main source of your concerns periodically will help you look to the right people for guidance and support, whether it be emotional, legal or financial for example.
Are you taking care of you?
For the majority of people, divorce is something that has to be dealt with on top of everything else that goes on in life. When a friend goes through a difficult time, we try to give whatever support is possible, yet when it comes to our own lives, we often neglect to give ourselves that same level of care. Time may well be in shorter supply than normal but it’s so important to take proper care of yourself. It’s not pampering; it’s actually an essential part of making sure you deal with your stress levels before you reach breaking point. Listen to what your body and mind needs and find some time that is reserved exclusively for you and something you want to do. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune; take half an hour to soak in a warm bath if that helps you to relax and switch off for a while. Anything that means you are focusing just on you.
Never underestimate the power of a hug! Too many times, I’ve heard people say “she’s so calm, nothing seems to get to her” when in actual fact the “her” being referred to is putting on a show for everyone whilst struggling silently. Sometimes just telling someone how you are really feeling can lift a weight off your shoulders. They may not be able to solve your problems but perhaps they can provide the emotional support that is so often needed. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to close friends or family, think about going to a counsellor.
Little things can make a big difference
It’s surprising how often a small adjustment can have a huge impact. It sounds odd but at our most stressed, we often forget to breathe. How often have you gone through something physically or mentally painful and found yourself holding your breath? We even do it at crucial points in a tv programme yet we neglect such a vital part of our wellbeing when it comes to our own health. When you feel things getting on top of you, take a deep breath in and breathe out slowly. It can reduce your stress levels quickly and if you’re being put on the spot, it can also give you a little extra time to formulate what you want or need to say. If you are able to, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a place where you feel safe, imaginary or real doesn’t matter. Often, things seems more manageable when you reopen your eyes.
Don’t forget the essentials
Our sense of smell can evoke all sorts of memories. Estate agents recommend the smell of roasted coffee beans or freshly baked bread is used to help make a house more inviting because it triggers our senses and our memories. The same is true when managing your stress levels. Frankincense is an amazing oil to help you feel calm and grounded. A drop on a tissue or on your solar plexus can make all the difference and is something unobtrusive that you can have with you at all times. Equally, be aware that there may be smells which can trigger unhelpful associations for you.
The above list is by no means exhaustive; ask 50 people for a tip on managing stress and you will most likely get 50 different answers. Nothing is fool proof and you have to decide for yourself what works when it comes to managing your own stress levels. If you take just one thing away from reading this, I hope it will be the fact that you are worth taking care of, whatever method that be.
To find out more about the services Nerys provides and/or to book an appointment, please contact her at www.sheertherapy.co.uk or telephone her on 07879 895359. Appointments are available, weekdays, evenings and weekends. Prices start from £40 for an hour.
If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you’ll find lots more in my eBooks, which you can purchase and download today.