Stress is a huge issue for so many of us and it can have a major impact on our health. Fatigue, weight issues, depression,high blood pressure, diabetes type 2 are all health situations with a powerful link to stress.
We can’t always influence the stress that comes our way, but there is plenty we can do to influence how that stress affects us. Strategies around food, sleep, self-care, boundaries and what we say yes or no to. Techniques to actively build resilience. And exercising our power and choose to act rather than react. In other words we are far from powerless!!
Over the last 10 days I have been asking you to complete a questionnaire called “Let’s sort that stress”. I am so very grateful to every single one of the 88 fantastic people who completed the survey. Your response was so generous and I am deeply moved by your support. I truly can’t thank you enough! I want to understand what is going on for you, and offer the right kind of support, information, teaching and mindset work, that can really help you.
Let’s get curious and find out more.
If you are anything like me, whenever I complete the questionnaire like this, I am curious to know what other people said! Yes, I can be very nosey!!! I find myself wondering what other people’s experiences are, what kind of things they noticed and commented on and what they feel they need. And how all of that ties in with some of my own answers. Ultimately I guess I want to know that I am not alone!!
So I thought I would share with you what I’ve learnt from the “Let’s sort that stress” survey and what this all means. Because numbers are only half the story. The magic happens when we combine the hard information with clinical insights and experience. So this is what I want to share with you. Here it goes!
The first thing to say is that we all experience stress. When I asked you to score yourself out of 10, the numbers were between 4 and 8.6. In other words no one is stress-free, and quite a lot of us are pretty much at the top end of the scale of what we feel within realistically cope with. And the truth is that we think this is NORMAL. We are encouraged to see stress as a normal part of life, that we just have to learn to live with, put up with or endure. Even when it makes us feel so very bad, or even when it makes us ill.
So what causes stress? Your answers clearly showed it is rarely just one thing that is driving those stress levels up. It is usually a mixture of all sorts of stuff goes on in life. We get bombarded from all angles!! It’s important to acknowledge this. Because it is this very ‘ this stuff is hitting me from all sides’ that can make stress so tricky deal with. Let’s face it, when it’s coming at you from every direction where do you even start?
The vicious circles of stress
The main drivers of stress were work, money, health concerns, overwhelm, lack of confidence and poor sleep. And what really struck home for me was, that this list shows us just how quickly we can end up in a vicious circle. It goes like this: the overwhelm can erode our confidence, which then impacts our emotional and mental health. That can have a big knock-on effect on the quality of our sleep, which then makes us less effective during the daytime and so on. And this is just one of the vicious circle patterns!!! There are more… but let’s keep going.
Then I asked you if you had a magic wand and could make 3 of the things that regularly cause you stress just disappear, the request was loud and clear: better health please. And by health we mean physical, mental AND emotional health. 60 out of the 88 responses showed that you would feel much better about life, stress and the universe, if your overall health was in a better place. Wow!! This is fantastic news, because we know how to do this.
So what do we do when we get stressed? How do we respond? Well, we eat!! Lots of you are self-confessed emotional eaters: overeating and ‘eating the fridge’ when life gets too much. Queue for yet another vicious circle: stress messes up your food choices, which then drags down your energy levels, which makes you feel tired , which makes the stress feel much worse.
The other thing that so many of you report it was your desire to hide from the world . 38 Out of 88 people said this, and it just goes to show that when the going gets tough, our instinct is to hide and protect ourselves. Naturally!! And yet 36/88 of you also regularly tell yourself to ‘ be strong’…. and keep showing up to face the music. So on the one hand we want to hide, on the other hand we want to power up, be strong, cope better. This is only natural, but it’s easy so see how this can leave us in a right old pickle!!… or maybe another vicious circle?
Then we looked at what holds you back when it comes to actively and confidently managing your stress and energy levels. This is what lots of you said: I don’t know where to start, I feel too stressed to even work it out, and I hold an underlying belief that deep down I don’t have the power to influence any of it and I just have to put up with it. Oooooooh. That made me sit up! Now you know what I am going to say, don’t you?! You are far from powerless.
YOU ARE WAY MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE!!!
Just had to get that out!!
Later in the questionnaire I asked how you would support your health and wellbeing in the face of stress. The big message here is that 68 out of 88 of you said you would like to look after yourself better. It’s as simple as that. It is about the self care, nurture of self, and listening to what your body, heart and soul are telling you, instead of silencing them.
What we need more of.
And when I asked you what you wish you had more of, so that life would flow better, your answers literally made me cry. This was so moving, to hear in your own words, what would really make a difference for you right now.
Before I share those incredible words with you, I just need to tell you this. When I was a medical student doing my stint in psychiatry, I learnt the concept of a word salad. It is self-explanatory but I love this idea!! So I’m going to sell you up a little word salad, as this give the best flavour of came up.
All these words came up over and over again. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we really could have more of these things for ourselves? If we knew exactly how to protect our energy levels from being eroded by life, if we could feel more positive, clear and organised? And the real magic is that all of these things are in our own power. We can create, generate and build all of this. Like I said, we are incredibly powerful.
It is clear to me that what is needed is a roadmap through the stress maze. Some kind of system that shows you clearly where to start, how to support yourself, and take one step at a time, one action at a time, to reclaim yourself, your health and your well-being.
The truth is, stress won’t go away, but what we can do is choose a new path around how we work with the stress in our lives. A huge thank you once again to everyone who shared their insights and experiences. I am so deeply grateful.
If you would still like to complete the survey, to see how you compare to the general results, you can do so right here:
And remember this: we are all different, we are all unique but no one is powerless.