Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Turn Stress Into Something Positive #Stress #Wellbeing

We’ve all experienced those days or weeks that wipe us out.

As we become bogged down by work, family life and a hectic social scene, we may begin to forget certain things such as a friend’s birthday or to cancel a hair appointment. Neither of these scenarios are life threatening and certainly shouldn’t tip us over the edge, but when we take too much on, the cracks begin to show.

Stress is a part of who we are. We deal with pressure, deadlines and multi-tasking regularly.

There have been many books and articles written on the benefits of a certain amount of stress in our lives. It can keep us on our toes, motivated to succeed and help us focus on an important task.

However, regardless of whether we believe that stress is good or bad, it can still have a detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing.

When we deal with an excessively stressful situation our body produces adrenaline and cortisol to help us deal with the threat – this is our fight or flight response. 

An argument or running for the bus can prompt our body to produce these hormones even though these simple acts don’t fully warrant the response. Very quickly our body will return to normal, however, if you live in a constant state of stress where your blood pressure isn’t given time to go back to normal, and your hormone levels are consistently high, you will become physically ill.

Stress affects everyone, and stressful situations surround us at every turn – home life, work, finances, friendships, grief. We all deal with stress in different ways, some people coping with more than others.

I’ve begun to understand my own limits now. As an A+ blood type, I naturally produce higher levels of cortisol and therefore reach the stressed stage much faster than someone who is an O blood type.

Physical symptoms of stress can include getting more colds or developing eczema, as well of more serious ailments, or you can become more lethargic and unsociable. Often we will overeat or drink more as a way to cope.

Noticing the outward signs of stress before they become too severe can help you to avoid a full-on illness. I know that when I begin to get eczema, it’s my sign that I’ve done too much and needed to take a time-out. It’s important to look out for these signs and act as soon as you spot them.

What can you do to turn stress into something positive?
  • Affirmations are a good way to talk yourself down from a worrying scenario. ‘I can cope with anything that life delivers’ is a good one to use.
  • Meditation will give you an instant calming fix – I highly recommend the Headspace app for a quick ten minute guided meditation.
  • Let go of everything that is out of your control.
  • Thinking positively can have a profound effect on your wellbeing. We are often fearful of new challenges/situations. By keeping a positive frame of mind and reassuring ourselves that the sweaty palms are perfectly normal, we can move forward and embrace each situation.

My other go-to favourites to help me cope with stress include:
  • Music – listening to my favourite songs helps me to focus on the good things and lifts my mood.
  • Journaling – writing down anything that is worrying me, helps me to release it
  • Candles, herbal tea, and a bubble bath – the power of taking some ‘me-time’ is quite incredible.
What do you like to do when feeling stressed? Can you de-stress quickly or does it take you a while to relax?


  1. Mine is most definitely a walk on the beach or in the forest. If that's not possible, I go to my room and meditate or do a few yoga poses! Works every time. But I think it's important to act at the first sign of stress rather than waiting until you feel like banging your head on a brick wall ��

    1. Absolutely, Gloria. I've bashed my head on that wall far too many times but I'm learning to spot the signs now! :-)

  2. Great article, Shelley, and very helpful. I like music and candles to de stress, as well as being in nature. I’ve downloaded the Headspace app too :-)

    1. Thanks, Cathy. Hope you like the app, Andy Puddicombe has a lovely voice and he is SO interesting - I've recently bought his book too. :-)

  3. Very timely post, Shelley! I just took a look at my calendar and almost passed out. And funny thing -- it's mostly filled with things I want to do. Just too many of them! So my de-stressing strategy is paring down to the things that best align with my goals and values and making sure I have time for walks in the woods, yoga and meditation. Also an occasional getaway, which I wrote about in my blog this week (I won't include a link without your permission, though).

    1. I love your idea of choosing the tasks that are in alignment with your goals. Please feel free to share your blog link, I'd love to read your post.

  4. Did you know that when you go into that fight or flight adrenalin rush your body not only directs all your energy to your limbs and heart (the places you need it for fighting or fleeing) but finds those reserves by shutting down functions that you wouldn't need in a life-threatening scenario, such as your digestive system, reproductive system and parts of the brain that deal with memory and abstract thought, hence people with long term stress may experience digestive or bowel problems, memory loss, loss of libido and difficulty thinking. Good reasons to unwind!
    However, as well as using techniques to calm down, it's also useful to find ways of being able to turn on that adrenalin rush when you need it. For example, in fight or flight mode you may have more physical strength than normal - you hear of people being able to lift a car to save a child, or a karate expert psyching themselves up to break a lump of concrete. Being able to switch into that state could help if you need to move something really heavy, like a washing machine. So getting angry and sweary with a thing that won't budge will actually help you budge it!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Douglas. The human body is truly fascinating isn't it. I've tapped into that angry/sweary strength on occasion! ;)

  5. I ask myself 'Will this matter in a month's time?' It doesn't always work, because I'm only human, but it quite often does. Otherwise, yes, it's yoga and meditation, and simply putting some distance between me and the cause of the stress. BTW, I've just recommended your book and blog to a friend who wants to reboot her life.

    1. Aww, thank you so much. It's hugely appreciated x