Learning how to react positively to stress.

 

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In life our reactions to everything can be improved upon the more we learn about ourselves and our ability to handle situations. Nothing is worth making yourself ill over and without putting in to place some sort of structure and strategy to deal with stressful situations people can and do get ill by allowing daily issues to overwhelm and control them

Every day in life we all can be faced by situations that could be considered stressful. Partly what enables us to be happy and relatively stress free is learning how best to distinguish what really is a priority and therefore needs to be dealt with and what can be left until we have more time or energy to deal with it. By consciously making decisions to prioritize the importance level of daily events we can in fact learn to control our stress levels. If we believe everything has the same high importance and must be dealt with immediately then we are creating a very high stress level situation for ourselves to have to cope with. That inability to distinguish between important and not so important can easily cause us to go in to overwhelm and then nothing really gets done. Things start to pile up and before we know it we feel close to a complete meltdown as the pressure to act builds.

So how to decide what needs to be dealt with first? I usually make my decisions based upon the likely impact that taking no immediate action would have and whether I feel comfortable enough delegating it or leaving it until later? I make daily lists up and number in the order in which I consider I need to get things done. Where possible I will delegate tasks that do not necessarily need my particular attention alone to others who may be free to help. It is also important to take time during the day to try to have at least five minutes peace. To be able to sit, have a drink to rehydrate, eat something, take a good few deep relaxing breaths and then start again. I have found that having short breaks actually helps me to be more efficient and effective in dealing with any issues that have need of my attention. A short break often allows me to get a different perspective on a problem and enables me to tackle any issues with renewed vigor. If I don’t fully understand something or I need a different opinion I ask someone I trust for their views  as that can often help me to clarify my own thoughts.

Despite all our best efforts at the end of the day there are sometimes some things which are not fully resolved, some things which need more time and effort to sort out and we just have to learn to be able to accept that too. Fretting and fussing about those types of issues will not alter how quickly they can be effectively dealt with. Some things just need time and patience and it is important to learn how to recognize when you have done as much as you can and then to decide to stop worrying and, just wait and see what if anything is required next.

All of these techniques take conscious effort and practice but the end results are well worth it. As Hans Selye rightly says “It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it”.

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We are not all Doomed

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Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.

Charles Spurgeon.

I find that nowadays it is easy for a normally rational person to become anxious and irrational in minutes just by watching the news, reading an article or even simply reading the possible side effects of bog standard medication. It seems sensational scary headlines and information disguised as informative but often quite misleading, is the order of the day. They give us bite sized facts but do not give space for the more reassuring explanation of these facts which might actually take away the fear. The effect of this is that we are all left feeling various degrees of anxiety and fear. Emotions which can overwhelm and trick us in to believing that we are quite powerless and just have to  sit and await our inevitable doom. Well, that is until the next scare changes our anxiety from one direction to face another and the whole cycle starts again.

I experienced a variation of this first hand following the birth of my youngest daughter. All my girls were born by caesarian section as I had as it turned out what the consultant kindly called an “incompetent womb” it seems that my womb tried hard to work properly, too hard, but was in fact pushing the baby out in the opposite direction to where it was supposed to be going. Not particularly comfortable for me and actually quite distressing for the baby. So when their heartbeats dropped dangerously low both my first two children were delivered by emergency caesarian section.

My first C section received few comments but after my second I received a lot of sympathy from well-meaning Mums who were sad for me not being able to have a natural birth and angry for me that the doctors had interfered with the whole process! My second birth was on Christmas Day. At the time there was a huge movement towards promoting natural births and lots of literature was about that suggested Doctors were delivering babies by section in order to keep to their own timetables. Whether this was the case or not I can’t say, it could have happened, but and it is a big but, each case is different and caution should always be used when trotting out information indiscriminately. In my case their facts were fiction. The same as my first delivery, progress was slow and I was wired up to show my baby’s heartbeat. The wires showed when my daughter’s heartbeat dropped from 140 beats a min to 60 and then 40.She was delivered by section less than 5 minutes later.

Fortunately the senior registrar who was in charge of my delivery had been on for the birth of my first daughter 18 months previously. He had witnessed everything that had happened and the speed of the problem when it occurred. The consultant however, who was in overall charge of my care only read the notes, which apparently showed no obvious reason for my previous failure to deliver. At this time ,coincidence or not, there was a group of pro natural birthers looking at the hospital c section figures and  it was suggested to me that the hospital wanted to please them by giving them as many “natural” births as possible. The Consultant had decided that I should be managed as a natural delivery. Had I not had a section my daughter would not be here. Of that there is no doubt. When my third daughter was due to be born there was no question that it should not be by any other method than elective caesarian section. After a smooth and successful delivery we were now confronted by another anxiety inducing situation.I was immediately asked to sign a form giving permission for her to receive a vitamin K injection. This form advised my husband and I that a small study had shown a potential link between giving vitamin K and early childhood illness. However, it also pointed out that failure to give this could lead to bleeding on the brain. I was really upset. We gave permission because we felt that we had no choice. When I came home I couldn’t sleep worrying about what we had done. I saw my GP and she shook her head and gently explained to me that both of my previous daughters were given vitamin K injections as soon as they were born as it was essential. I just hadn’t been asked because at that time there was no protocol for asking. She looked up the study concerned and pointed out to me that there was little if any link with cancer found and in her opinion this should not even have been mentioned. When I went home I did my own research and finally was able to sleep at night. It made me mad as well as scared that they would present me with such a tenuous piece of information just to self-protect, regardless of how worried it made me and other parents feel who were asked to sign.

From then on I developed a pattern. If something scares me I do my own research. I tell my clients to do the same. Do not look at terrifying headlines telling us we are all doomed and go away scared to live. Research it and take action to change if you need or dismiss it as you need. Some people thrive on being the prophets of doom. It gives them energy, yours. Sometimes it is simply stupidity in that they repeat what they have heard without thinking of the consequences of what they are saying and without checking the facts. Do not hide your head in the sand, be informed, but be correctly informed and for that you need to recognize that not all learning and information comes from the one source. Take charge of your life and your emotions and you will be less anxious and happier for it.