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Know when the stress monster has ambushed you


Lately things have been a bit tough and I have therefore put a few things in place to support me through this time. In the past I would not have been fully aware of what was happening and would have resisted it and it would have continued or even worsened until something finally helped to shift the place I was in. I often talk about having awareness to help a person to be proactive rather than simply living life reactively. When we begin to recognise and understand our imbalance we can then do something it. This involves two processes – firstly, knowing yourself and recognising the signs that you are experiencing imbalance and disharmony and, secondly, having some tools in place to help you to find balance and harmony again. Today I am focussing on the first process of recognising when things are out of kilter.

You may be thinking duh, it’s easy to recognise imbalance as it is when you feel huge emotions like deep fear and big overwhelm. However, I am talking about recognising when things are out of balance far earlier than you usually would. It’s amazing how when feeling overwhelmed and stressed we often adopt default modes and just put our heads down, simply not acknowledging what a bad place we are in and ploughing on….surviving and not thriving.

So I sat down and literally made a list for myself of what it is that indicates for me to do things differently and to get support or give myself support (through slowing down for example).

These are a few of my signs:

Craving sugar and carbohydrates
Eating faster and not appreciating my food as much
Skipping meals and perhaps eating more or less than I usually do
A change in bowel movements (in BodyTalk constipation often indicates a need to hold on and control and accompanies times of obsession and compulsion while diarrhea indicates overwhelm and feeling like the bottom of your world is falling out)
Driving and walking fast
A sense of urgency
A feeling like I have so much to do and so little time
Snapping easily and having very little tolerance
Feeling slightly dizzy and unstable at times
A tendency to withdraw
Feeling even more tired than usual (I didn’t know that was possible following three years of child-related sleep deprivation!)
Experiencing increased muscular pain (especially lower back and shoulders – in BodyTalk shoulder-related difficulties can indicate shouldering responsibilities as well as a need to protect the heart and lower back pain often accompanies fear and lacking stability, security & foundations)
Being more judgmental and critical of others and myself (these tend to go hand in hand as self-criticism causes projection and criticism in others of what is not ‘acceptable’ within the self)
Poor memory and poor concentration (worse than usual!)
Increased anxiety and worries, especially related to safety
My eczema may play up
A tendency to get stuck in my head and obsess a little more than usual so that I forget to be in my body and be mindful.

These are my signs and may be fairly common and some may also be quite unique to me, especially given my history of adrenal fatigue and related symptoms which can be triggered by stress. Sometimes I experience all of them together and sometimes only some. Sometimes they come on gradually and sometimes it seems as if I have been ambushed by the stress monster and hardly felt it coming. The big difference now is that when I notice these signs in myself I try not to judge them or worry about them and instead attempt to acknowledge them and possible figure out why I am feeling the way I am feeling. However, more than anything I start to use the tools I have at my disposal to shift out of the space I am in.

Simple non-judegmental acceptance and acknowledgment of it all can already help to set a shift in motion. I may journal to get an objective perspective and become clearer on where I am at. I may meditate. I make sure to slow down and try to be more present through my breathing and other exercises to bring me into my body. I may go for a BodyTalk session; an acupuncture session; a reiki session; a reflexology session or even a massage. Usually I simply just try to slow down enough to feel what is that I most need. This time I realised I needed to start taking a homeopathic remedy I had not taken for a long time and also had an acupuncture session and BodyTalk session and gradually this week I have been feeling far more focussed, joyful, peaceful and present. In the past it could have taken me weeks to get out of a bad space as I went into default coping mode and simply plodded on.

So try to recognise your particular signs of being out of balance. If possible make a list as this helps you to be really cognisant of them. Perhaps even stick them up on your mirror so that next time you are brushing your teeth angrily while obsessing over what you should have said and have to do that little list might help you to stop and consider where you are at so that you can choose to change direction! This is about taking control over your situation and realising you can choose a different reality. You can empower yourself through increased awareness!


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  1. Hi Kerry, what a brilliant article! I can so identify with the signs you indicate and have found that regular acupuncture, healthy diet and supplements recommended by my dietician, have really helped me to keep my stress monster at bay!

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom so eloquently!

    Warm regards, Des Attwood

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