Stress is the bane of everyone’s existence – more so for those of us whose bodies will shut down at the slightest intimation of that nasty wee beastie rearing its ugly little head. I usually know when stress is kicking in even before it starts making its presence felt by stirring up the ME/CFS or Menieres disease.
I feel it like a tight little presence in my head – as though it’s an inflatable air bag around my brain that is always there but instead of air it inflates with stress. When I feel that warning tightness I know I need to take a step back and chill out or I’m in for a really rough ride on the illness front.
But how do you do that? How do you take a step back? How do you stop the stress from taking over?
For me distraction is the key. I’ll sit down and make a to-do list for everything that may be causing the stress to kick in, then I’ll turn on the karaoke and sing for an hour or so – or I’ll read a book or watch a few episodes of some show I like on dvd.
Yes, that may seem counter-intuitive if what is stressing me out is work that needs doing to a set timescale, but believe me it works; it clears the decks so I can then focus on the items on my list.
It’s a 2 part thing really; making the initial list while you are stressed starts the process – it feels like you are addressing the situations that are stressing you out which helps you feel in control which helps you calm down enough to take the 1-2hr breather (or even a full day if you really need it) this helps deflate that nasty tension to the stage where it’s easier to focus on smaller tasks without being overwhelmed by the big picture.
That’s the real trick; making things less overwhelming and more manageable.
You have forms to fill out?
- Do the easy stuff like photocopying evidence and filling out name, address D.o.B, and NI/SSN on all of ’em in one go first.
- Take a singing/ film/ book break
- Write out the other info you need and check it against your evidence.
- Take another break then check it all over again before photocopying and do your best not to think about the outcome of your form filling, stay in the moment and do one task at a time.
After the task is complete and you’re inevitably back to stressing about the outcome/ future; take another break – have a bath and try to guestimate how long you stay in there before you start to wrinkle or stare at the reflection on the taps and mentally figure out what is being reflected; try to think about ANYTHING but the things that are worrying you.
If you can’t shut things off; fire off a few tweets, phone a friend or write a blog post to rant and release the tension that way, then make another list.
Take everything a day at a time; you will still worry and stress about things you can’t control – the trick is to only give into it now and again; plan for the worst and hope for the best.
The list is your plan, letting go is what will see you through it.