If I had a nickel for every time I used the word stress in the last year I wouldn’t need to work… my husband wouldn’t need to work and we’d be taking a vacation once a month to where ever we wanted to go. There were days that I literally went back to bed hoping to not wake up until a new day had started. It began to consume me. I had a hard time giving my clients my full attention at work. I was forgetting things on my calendar, even when I had set two reminders on my handy little iphone. I was a much less attentive mom… playing less with the little ones and talking less with the older ones. I had headaches which turned into short periods of time with severe visual disturbances. Later they turned into, what we call in our house, episodes where I would lose most of my motor functions for periods up to three hours and not remembering most of it when I “came to”. STRESS. This one little word began to consume me, dismantle my life, steal my marriage, rob me of precious days with my beautiful babies and turn my passion into work. The worst part might you ask…. I had no idea. I began to seek help from medical professionals. Let me take a small detour here and fill you in on a major part of my life… I try to be as holistic as possible. Homeopathies, herbal remedies, essential oils, meditation and prayer are all extremely common in our home. So for me to call a doctor…. You KNOW it’s bad. After months of every kind of test you can imagine the consensus was that I was having migraines presenting in what the neurologist called “uncommon and rare ways”… aka we have no idea what’s wrong with you, you must be loosing your marbles lady! Enter anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds. It all loops back around to stress and the way I was coping with it, or in better terms NOT coping with it.
I was cleaning the house one afternoon while the baby was napping. I have been telling myself for years that I was going to learn to use my Apple TV for more than just Netflix and Hulu... so I was scrolling for something to turn on that was mundane enough to stay focused on my tasks at hand… but interesting enough to not be annoying (like anything not animated or anything that tells every story with a song says the mama in me). I decided on TED. Maybe I could learn something even if it was subliminal. I choose the category marked “inspiring” and the first talk I can’t even tell you the title or what it was about… only that is was a man and the tone of his voice seemed to drown out easily and I began to wish I had chosen something else. As if he can feel my distaste through the television he wraps it up and the next talk comes on automatically. Cool feature! (This better be good or I’m going back to cable and I mean it) Next in line was a woman… great hair... great stage presence…. Ok ok I’m warming up to this… then she says “Raise your hand if you have experienced relatively little stress in the last year” (HA! I actually huffed out loud as I was wiping down the kitchen counter) “Raise your hand if you have experienced a moderate amount of stress” (Hmm is the noise out of my mouth as I move on to the dining room table) “Raise your hand if you’ve experienced a lot of stress” (annnnnd I am not sitting on the couch). For the next 15 minutes I was glued to the television as I listened to this woman rock everything I knew about the monster that had robbed me for the last year… and if I’m being honest ever since I can remember. That woman’s name is Kelly McGonigal, Health Psychologist. She spent years promoting the message of how damaging stress is to your physical and mental health… now she has completely flipped the switch… the new message… the fear of stress is more harmful than stress itself. We have to change the way we think about stress and open our minds to the positive things stress has done for us.
Read KILLER STRESS Part 2: The Solution for some tips on making adjustments to your view on stress!