Monday, January 12, 2015


I’ve never been one for resolutions perse, but I do take stock of where I’ve been and where I want to go or things I want to try. I think that’s a natural progression when a new year rolls around.

Many have had to face some nasty stressors this past year and I believe stress is the bane of modern life. One we don’t always consider or learn effective ways to handle. We see the effects on our bodies but healing is more than taking a pill to treat the symptoms and moving on.  It’s a matter of recognizing the underlying causes and finding effective ways to diffuse stress in our lives.

As I take stock this year I realize there was more stress than my mind and body could handle. Stress affects the body more than we realize. Cause and effect isn’t always immediate.

It’s kind of like fighting a battle. You face your opponent(s) and your goal is to keep on your feet and moving forward with as little damage as possible. Survival.

Part of your mind is analyzing body language, moves and counter moves, both yours and theirs. Adrenaline is rushing through your body. You’re aware of body hits but you don’t always feel the full effects until it’s all over.  Once you’re in a safe place and the excess adrenaline slowly abates you become aware of the immediate injuries. There is a certain feeling of euphoria that you’re okay and survived and as that feeling fades away, you become conscious still other injuries.

It’s not just the physical wounds that have to heal. Your mind needs to process and heal as well and that takes time—especially if you’ve had to face a series of battles or traumatic events—with little time in between to recuperate or heal.

It’s important to recognize stress reactions and how to find tools to counter the stress.

The most common stress reactions include:

  • Slowness of thought
  • Difficulty prioritizing tasks
  • Difficulty initiating routine tasks
  • Preoccupation w/minor issues and familiar tasks           
  • Indecision and lack of concentration
  • Loss of initiative with fatigue
  • Exhaustion

Some tips to help with stress:


·        Be Thankful: Keep a gratitude journal. Make a list of all the things and people you’re grateful for. Create a Happiness jar or box. Each day, on a piece of paper, take a moment to write about a good thing that happened. Even the worse days have a good moment. Drop the note in the box or jar. At times of stress take a moment to pull out a ‘memory’ and read it.
·        Enjoy the Weather: Sunshine and fresh air is good for you whatever the season. In the winter dark days tend to add to stress. Take advantage of sunshine and stand in the sun and let it warm you. If you work, take your break outside. Even when there isn’t sunshine and it’s cold, still take a few moments to stand outside and breathe in deeply. Focus on what’s going on around you. Does the sun or breeze feel nice? Is it snowing? Raining? How does it smell? What wildlife is there—even cities have birds and squirrels and both fun to watch.

  Find Peace: Modify your environment with music. Meditate, use deep breathing—pull in cleansing breaths and exhale the crap of the day. Pay attention to how your body feels when you do deep breaths. Learn mindfulness skills. Take a walk either solo or with a pet.

·        Practice Positive Thinking: Smile and be able to laugh at yourself. Practice positive self talk or use a journal for positive self talk.

·        Have a Plan: There are some stressors you can’t avoid but you can have a plan on positive ways to handle those stressors. Plan time for yourself and adjust that to your day. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time when you’re working. It’s amazing what 15 minutes spent on nurturing you can do. In the morning or evening give yourself time to do what relaxes you, reading, music, gardening, talking to a friend or just sitting outside in the quiet. Make a plan to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is your enemy and it amplifies the effects of stress.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Too much stress can take a toll on your physical and psychological wellness. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.

Happy New Year! I hope yours will be healthy, productive and satisfying.


Dianne K. Salerni said...

Looking over that list of symptoms, I think I was suffering from quite a few of them this past summer. I thought I was ecstatic about retiring from teaching and leaving a toxic workplace where my expertise was no longer valued. And I was, sort of. But even leaving a job voluntarily is a stressor, and I spun my wheels unhappily for most of the summer, trying to figure out my life as a full time writer.

I did not recognize the stressor of a major life change, even one I thought was positive.

Karen Walker said...

BRILLIANT POST, Sia. I'm on the same wavelength - looking at how stress has impacted me physically, emotionally and spiritually. And trying to do better.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

The winter does really add to my stress when I can't exercise outdoors or work on the yard or float in the pool. I long for some days of even relatively mild temperatures like the 40's.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Planning ahead helps me to cope with it. So does going to the gym or playing my guitar.
It's raining here today, so I'll take an umbrella if I go stand outside.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I've been going through lots of stress. Your suggestions are good ones. I'm using many of them. I'm also exercising a lot. That's a big help too.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Positive thinking can make a huge difference.

~Sia McKye~ said...

DIANNE-- life changes, good and bad, do effect us. Adjusting to a new pattern has it's own stress. Glad you're handling it now. :-)

KAREN--it takes some work but first is recognizing that we are dealing with it. Glad you're healing. Hugs.

~Sia McKye~ said...

SUSAN--I hear you on that! I still make it a point to bundle up and get outside despite the deep freeze around me. :-) It helps clear my nind. I'm looking forward to more sunshine and outside activities.

ALEX--All those do help with stress. I use music a lot to modify my mood and exercise it a great way to cope with stress of the day. Rain or no, being outside even for a short time helps me. Hope your umbrella doesn't leak, lol!

NATALIE--Absolutely. Sure helps.

DIANNE--Couldn't agree more with thinking positive thoughts. Laughter helps a lot too. :-)

Stephen Tremp said...

Hello Sia, Happy New Years to you and yours! Being thankful is what it's all about. Often I just need to slow down, forget about the self imposed deadlines I'm missing, and become thankful for what I've accomplished to date.

Jemi Fraser said...

Stress builds up slowly and insidiously until it wipes you out. Learning to deal with it can make life so much better!

shelly said...

Very nice post! ShAring!

cleemckenzie said...

I recognize all of those symptoms. Two years now and I'm still figuring out what to do first, next and last. However, there is that light at the end of the tunnel. I have a plan and so far I've stuck with it.

Great post.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic post. I remind myself to be thankful for the things I have and I've more a plan for this year than any other year before. My high blood pressure needs me to stop stressing so much! Happy new year to you too. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

STEPHEN--I think we all need to slow down and enjoy what we do have. Otherwise it's just blur and meanwhile our bodies take the hits. Being thankful is so important. We really do have more than we think. :-)

JEMI--it goes both ways. There is the insidious creeping sort and then the sort that comes from the trauma of hits or several bad things we have to battle. We don't give ourselves time to breathe.

SHELLY--Thank you. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

LEE--the awful thing is we may see the signs of stress and still not take action. By the time the signs get to the point I mention in the warning signs our body, mind and spirit are fighting to survive. There is no easy way to fix it. It takes time to heal. Just like grieving does--no shortcuts just taking it a day at a time.

I'm so glad you have a plan and are sticking to it and doing better!

CHRISTINE--Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the info. A plan does help. Learning when to say no does as well. We find it hard to nurture ourselves, don't we? We know how to nurture our children and mates but somehow we leave us out. And we just can't. Not if we want to survive. :-)

Tammy Theriault said...

learning your stress triggers and slowing down is definitely key! great post SIA!!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Thought-provoking post! We really do need newer and better ways to diffuse stress in our lives. It takes such a heavy toll on us mentally and physically!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I never understood the after effects of stress until after my brother died. He was only 46 and that didn't mesh with the natural order of things. For about a year, I swear I had a sort of PTSD- I'd worry about my kids getting hit by cars or a stray baseball at a ball field. I would worry over everything because in my new world- the unthinkable did happen. It's tough!

Anne Gallagher said...

I take a nap every day. Whether I actually sleep or not, I make sure I lay down for at least a half hour. No radio, tv, any sound at all. It's almost like meditation, and helps me just to deal with the remainder of my day. Some people think this act makes me lazy, I say it just helps me from being crazy.

Happy New Year!

mshatch said...

I agree with Susan that winter is much more stressful. Less exercise, less daylight, the soul sucking cold...but...thank God my house is warm and I have a job I love and my computer works :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tammy--Absolutely. Once you recognize those stress triggers then you can figure out how to minimize them. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. :-)

KEITH--It does, indeed.

ELIZABETH--I'm so sorry for your loss. It hits hard, doesn't it. Actually, it rocks your world. Good choice of words, 'the unthinkable happened.'

ANNE--You're a smart lady. :-)
I think there is a perception which says if you rest or lay down when there are things to do, you're lazy. I've never agreed with that. I do the same with naps, only I allow an hour and quiet. It does help to process what has happened and deal more effectively with the rest of your day.

MS HATCH-- You made me laugh. But yes, soul sucking cold takes it's toll. I like your list of grateful. :-)