Manageable stress from an exciting project or a new responsibility is fine. I feel energised and motivated with a little bit of stress. Not all stress is bad for you. When it all boils down, stress simply translates to fear. A reasonable amount of fear is required for survival and success. Fear can be a great motivator and help to keep you safe.
But stress from being overworked is another story. This type of stress can increase your blood pressure, cause you to overeat, abandon your exercise regimen and turn to alcohol, recreational drugs or smoking to combat the negative effects. Chronic stress exposes your body to unhealthy, persistently elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Studies also link stress to changes in the way blood clots, which increases the risk of heart attack.
You don’t have to go too far to read up on the dangerous effects stress can have on your body and, in turn, on your life, your family and your well-being. If you find yourself worn out, lethargic or demotivated, you need to look closely at your lifestyle. I have worked with people who boast about how many hours they spend in the office. As with all addictions, they know the exact amount of time they spend there each day. This “keeping track” is typical addictive behaviour. For example, a recovering alcoholic knows exactly how many days they have been sober. Human beings need to work to live, not live to work. More and more in our culture, work addiction is something we celebrate and reward. Reassess your time at work and take back some “me time”. Your life could depend on it.
“Me time” is one of my most ferociously guarded treasures. In fact, as I am writing this article, I am enveloped in the smell of fresh massage oil. Thank you Portland! Taking time for yourself needs to work its way up to the top of your list of priorities. Women I work with are constantly retracting from “selfishly” taking for themselves. Instead, they bend over backwards to please everybody else in their lives and neglect themselves. Guess how that ends up? That’s right – they feel resentful. If you don’t give to yourself first, you have nothing in the tank for other people. Fill your own well and then it is your choice who you let drink from it – but if you have no water, you have nothing to give.
Speaking of wells, I read a book a long time ago called The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. In her book, Julia suggests “filling your well” in order to be creative. The way you do this is by taking yourself out on an “artist date”. The date involves just you and something creative. You can stroll through an art gallery or museum. Take yourself off to the movies, theatre or a concert. Whatever you choose, it needs to centre on something creative and it needs to centre on you. Building a strong “self centre” is the first step towards becoming “other person centred”. In other words, fulfil your own needs first and then you are in a good position to help others fulfil theirs.
Noni Boon is a holistic wellbeing specialist, international best-selling author, motivational speaker and guest writer. Noni thrives on working with people to achieve total holistic wellbeing and improve their lives to the point of flourishing as opposed to just “surviving”. For more information, see bidesignco.com.