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28 February 2012

Gertie’s Gentle Guide to Controlling Stress

Bridge reflection Ah, the wonders of the modern age! Think of all the marvelous inventions over the past 100 years that have made our everyday lives so much easier. There’s the car, the washing machine, the Hoover, the dishwasher, the telephone and the iPad. I mean, imagine if we actually had to walk, scrub clothes in a tub, sweep, hand-write letters AND there was no method in which to immediately communicate to all of our friends which of the mundane tasks we had recently completed and whether our friends in turn ’Liked’ it or not.

If our ancestors could have seen the future they would have thought we’d all be living lives of luxury with not a care in the world. Why is it then that we’re all so STRESSED?

Now I don’t want you to think that I’m being all flippant over my dear readers’ problems. I do sympathize and will gladly reveal to you the fact that I too have had my own fair share of stresses. Divorcing is of course never fun, especially if you’ve bought a business or a house together. Post-natal depression, a state that a lot of women don't at first recognise and then want to admit they are in, inconveniently occurs during that sleep-deprived time when a new being’s survival is solely dependent on you. Then of course there’s the omnipresent stress of work, finances, relationships, and the list goes on. In fact, if you let it, stress is always there. No matter what’s happening in your life, the little bugger just won’t go away.

So what to do but grab for your closest wine glass and christen it ’George’, your new best friend (avoiding, of course, the perpetual half-full, half-empty debate by keeping the darn thing constantly filled to the brim)? Having tried this method, I cannot fully recommend it as being one of your best choices. Do, however, read on...

Gertie’s Gentle Guide to Controlling Stress:

Of course it would be terrific if I was going to say that you will never let stress affect you again. Unless you’re some sort of zen master or highly trained Buddhist monk living in a cave somewhere then this is not likely to happen. Goodie for you if you can, but baby, you’re in a minority.

What we can do is try to recognize the signs of stress and then try to stop it from taking over completely like an uncontrolled Leviathan.

  1. Identify: Feel that tightening, slightly nauseous feeling in your stomach? Has your pulse quickened? Good, that’s all you have to do. Just be aware of the stress coming, that’s all.

  2. Reflect: Ok, so stress is here. Take five quiet minutes (I know, easier said than done, but this is important!) and try to trace back why an issue is making you stressed. Usually it is because of a fear; fear of losing a job, a loved one, a home....

  3. Rationalise: Now think through your actions if the potential fear becomes reality. What would you do? Start searching for your ultimate new job, start dating again, move into your parents.... Good. Now you realise that life is not going to end. It will change, yes, but not end. And as a bonus, you now have a plan!

  4. Remember: Each time the stress feeling comes back (and now it can’t sneak up on you so easily because you have identified it) just take a deep breath and think of your plan. If ’the worst’ happens you know what you’re going to do. This is important because if you let stress take over, it doesn't actually SOLVE anything, it just ends up wasting your energy - an unproductive waste of time.

  5. Smile: When I get stressed, and ooh baby I’ve been through some pickles lately, I try to focus on the good things in my life. My kids, the fact I live beside the sea where the sun shines most of the time, and the fact that I have my health so I can go out and enjoy both of these puts a smile on my face. Now that’s good, positive energy - the real antidote to stress!

Monaco February Sunrise

Photo credit: me!


I get super stressed too...a lot and shout... a lot. I do try and do all the tips you site in your stress guide. I have to as at one point a few years ago I was getting pretty sick with all the stress I was putting myself under.
I am certainly with you on the 'outdoors' makes you smile, as you know! You by the sea and me in the mountains. Gorgeous pic, would be a goodie for #SilentSunday. Love this post and the way you write. Always look forward to checking in on your blog

Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I just think that stress and depression aren't openly discussed often enough - I think stress and depression happen to more people than we are aware of. It's definitely a skill to control stress, but one that gets better with practice!! (and it's nice to write and get it all out!)

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