April is around the corner and it got me thinking about stress (it's the National Stress Awareness Month).
How do you relate to your stress?
I often find it scary to really connect with how stressed I feel. There's a sense that it's a threat to my physical health and it often makes me worried about my life and where it's going. Overall, not a very fun experience.
But there is another story about stress, which has been shown to improve both physical and mental health.
This other story is that stress is a signal that your body is sending you, in order to help you calm down.
It can point us in the direction of specific triggers (e.g. when I talk to a specific person I get stressed and maybe this relationship is just not nurturing for me).
Or it can literally force us to slow down and notice that we're in a dysregulated nervous state.
The trick seems to be overcoming that moment when I want to go into negative self-blame as a reaction.
Let's look at these two different stress experiences:
Person 1: Trigger -> Notice I am stressed -> Start worrying -> Blame myself for my lifestyle choices -> Feel more stressed
Person 2: Trigger -> Notice I am stressed -> Pause and say "Hi stress, I see you. What are you trying to tell me? -> Realise that I have not been sleeping very well -> Decide to take a break from work and take a nap
By seeing our stress as a signal it's possible to turn it into an ally.
So here's an invitation to reflect -
How are you relating to your stress? Do you see it as your friend or enemy? And what is your stress trying to tell you?
Feel free to share your reflections in the comments, it would be great to hear your experiences with working with stress!