In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I talk about our relationship with stress. Expecting and demanding so much of ourselves or not considering what’s happened in our lives causes us to go way over our bandwidth. This is why so many of us don’t recognise how overwhelmed we are by toxic and unprocessed stress.

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Some nuggets from the episode

  • It’s not unusual when we’re persistently stressed to feel disconnected from our body. We don’t know how and what we feel.
  • When my body shook violently when faced with dealing with a tricky person, I didn’t take it as a sign that I was wrong to proceed. I recognised that it was the build-up of months of acknowledged and unacknowledged stress as well as being triggered. I had to stand up for myself.
  • We all have a threshold for stress. Some of us have been so far over it for so long that it’s become the new normal.
  • We carry on as if we’re supposed to be Teflon-coated, telling us to “Buck up!” and to “Get a grip!”. What we don’t acknowledge are our specific factors that contribute to why we respond to certain stressors in the way that we do.

Our bodies aren’t failing us when we struggle to cope. It’s unrealistic to expect that we can just pile us up with stress. We’re not designed for that.

  • Our coping and survival mechanisms helped us to survive our childhood, but these same habits become maladaptive if we continue to use them in adulthood. We struggle to thrive.
  • Why can’t I cope with running myself in the ground like I used to? Why is the smallest thing breaking me? Because you’re not supposed to keep getting away with busting your boundaries and bandwidth.
  • The mind doesn’t differentiate between real and imagined. If we spend a lot of time, energy, effort and emotions rehearsing for negative events, our body feels them as if they were happening. It’s like praying for what we don’t want.
  • The body doesn’t differentiate between size of stress — stress is stress. If we’re living our life in such a way that we don’t take care of ourselves, we don’t have great boundaries, that we don’t respect our bandwidth, the stress piles up. After this, what seems like the smallest thing tips us over the edge.

If we’ve been ignoring us, we’re supposed to feel stressed.

  • Discovering your ACEs (adverse childhood experience scores) helps you to acknowledge the journey you’ve travelled so that you can have more self-compassion and take better care of you.

If interacting with someone makes you feel small, inadequate, helpless and on guard like you did as a child, it’s a sign that you are in high stress.

  • Being braced for danger is toxic stress and toxic to our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
  • When you count your stresses, it becomes clear about why you don’t have the bandwidth to take care of you, to nurture your relationships, to tell someone to jog on.
  • Over your bandwidth equals you are in stress.
  • Tolerating the intolerable isn’t a medium to long-term plan.
  • What doesn’t feel harmonious? What’s draining?
  • Acknowledge when something is on the way to becoming unbearable.
  • We have to stop treating recognition of stress as something negative about us.

Stress is there to let us know that we need to take care and be aware — mind our bandwidth.

  • If we didn’t have stress, how would we know when something is too much?
  • With the benefit of hindsight, I’m very grateful to tinnitus because it’s forced me to listen to myself in a much deeper way. It’s a work in progress.
  • I might think that certain things are totally OK, but for some reason my body and mind doesn’t. And that’s worth paying attention to because they’re me.
  • Our bandwidth shifts over the course of the week.
  • Find things to calm down the body and be more in tune with you. Journaling, stretching, reading, meditation, massage, various practitioners — these all help in calming my nervous system and taking care of me.

Links mentioned

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