21-Day Stress challenge: The background

I know I’ve been a bit AWOL from my blog recently, and there’s a reason for that.

I’ve just been through one of the most stressful periods of my life, and in a nutshell it has affected my health physically. I got to the point where one day I was sitting in my car and didn’t want to get out. I wanted to go home, climb into my bed and put the covers over my head. I forced myself out, and got on with things. The next day I struggled to get out of bed. The day after that, I called in sick.

I spent the entire day lifeless on the couch, and it wasn’t until I looked at my fiancé that it clicked in my head: there were other people in my life being affected. My stress pushing me to the point of feeling sick physically wasn’t the only issue, it was also bringing other people down. On top of that, if I ever wanted a family (which obviously brings a lot of challenges and stress with it) I had to sort it out. On the plus side, while it was a serious problem, it wasn’t severe. Yet. I had to fix it before it got any worse.

I did some research, and came across a book called “The 21-Day Stress Management Challenge”. The tag line confirmed it was exactly what I was after: “Learn how to significantly reduce your stress and take better care of yourself in just 21 days”.

Stress

Click here to view on Amazon.com

I read through the first few chapters, then it fell to my bedside table and didn’t move. Meanwhile, I thought I’d dealt with my stress by discussing it with those involved, and some action was taken. I also booked in a week of holidays to relax.

Fast forward 3.5 weeks to the current time, and I’m at the point where I have one more day left of holidays and then I’m back to work. Where I thought I’d “dealt with things”, I’ve now realised I haven’t. I’ve had severe heartburn, even to the point of affecting my sleep. For the last few weeks I’ve been drinking gaviscon like it’s water, popped Quick eze like it’s candy, and downed Nexium like it was my birth control. None of it worked, and my anxiety at the prospect of returning to work has seen my heart burn rage more than ever.

Today I was at the gym, and had been burping up my breakfast. I jumped on the treadmill with the aim to do my scheduled “long run” for the day, but after only 20mins I had to jump off before I threw up. My throat was burning more than ever, and I realised I finally had to do something about it.

After consulting a doctor it was determined (thankfully) to be just severe heart burn. We opted not to investigate whether I have a stomach ulcer, purely for the reason that I would have to get an endoscopy to diagnose it, and the end result would be that I’d be on the same medication that he prescribed today. Chances are that I’ve got one though, since I’ve got 100% of the symptoms (although we know that with googling I could find a way to diagnose myself with cancer really). I’m on tablets for the next 30 days to try and bring things under control, so we’ll see how that goes.

So what happens now?

Obviously I will continue with the tablets to address the physical symptoms, but unless I address my ability to manage stress then it will no doubt reoccur.

And here’s the thing – I wasn’t ever taught how to manage stress. No one is. We’re just expected to figure it out as life goes on. Some of us are better at it than others. I’m one of those people that has no clue (getting moody and binge eating/drinking wine isn’t really helping) hence my seeking for some education on the topic, and landing upon the book.

As we can see from my not-so-short recap above, I started reading it then I let it drop. It’s time to give it a proper go, and take it day-by-day until I’ve made it through the 21 days. If you’re wondering why I’m choosing to blog this instead of keeping it private, there’s a number of reasons:

  • Accountability – I’ll be motivated to keep going with the journey for the reasons that people know I’m giving it a go
  • Support – people knowing that I’m attempting to address stress in my life will no doubt encourage a few supporting words, so thanks in advance 🙂
  • Writing is an emotional outlet for me, and it helps me to analyse things clearly
  • Motivation for others – there might be someone else out there that can benefit from this and make changes to their own lives

Before I begin:

There are going to be people that will be judging me through this process; that’s fine, it’s human nature. But I want to make some things clear:

  • This will not be a “woe is me journey”. I don’t intend on sitting here having a whinge, I want this to be proactive.
  • This is not an “I hate my life” moment. I actually freaking love my life. I have amazing people in it, I earn a decent wage, and there are a lot of perks.
  • The stress in my life is largely brought on by myself. My job definitely has a lot going on (I manage a department and a team of people, which is always going to be a challenge), but it’s always possible to leave the stress at the door, go home and be happy. I haven’t mastered that. Through my own doing, I push myself into working long hours and doing things that are not necessarily my responsibility. I’ve sacrificed the happiness of others. I work myself to the bone, and I have no one else to blame for that.
  • I completely understand that there are people out there that have a lot more going on than me – people with kids, or serious health issues (even life threatening). I’m not trying to devalue that or their challenges. This is not a competition.
  • This is my journey. I don’t know what lays ahead, and what discoveries I might make. I don’t know what actions I will take. But this is about me. Not my fiancé’s, not my work places, or my family. The opinions are mine. The thoughts are mine.

So….I guess it’s time to set the kindle book back to page 1, take a deep breath, and get going.

Let’s hope this is step 1 in yet another life changing moment.

Wish me luck.

9 Replies to “21-Day Stress challenge: The background”

  1. Ooh I’m super interested to see how you go with the book. I have identified stress as one of my main triggers with my Hashimoto’s, and need to prioritise getting it under control. 🙂 Will definitely give this book a go if you find it helpful!

    1. You definitely don’t want to make yourself any worse off health wise! I will be sure to keep you posted on how I go, or any tips I pick up. I think I’ve got a bumpy but insightful road ahead!

  2. BOOM – this is an excellent step kiddo and you will feel sooooo much better for it – keep it up and there are always warm and fuzzy’s you know where ohhh and big hugs x

  3. Kelly,
    Please take care of yourself. I am beginning to think this is an E-W trait. I gave up teaching because I was burnt out, diagnosed with Grave’s disease 12 months later and thankfully have not had another attack. We are ‘perfectionists’, don’t like to delegate thinking that if we do it ourselves then it will be the way we want it and therefore we will not need to spend extra time correcting errors others have made, our position in management means we need to do the extra those underneath don’t do so we don’t get slammed by our superiors etc. in order to do this I would stay at school till 6pm or later, work at home till midnight or later, up at 5 am after existing on 4-5 hours sleep, working on weekends and holidays. My excuse was kids had left home, husband away from home on work therefore could concentrate on work.
    Believe me when I left, and after the treatment I had received from a much younger know it all staff member who undermined my authority every chance she had, I would spend most days in bed, in my pyjamas, not wanting to go out in public, feeling the most worthless piece of ….. On this earth and believing that I wouldn’t be missed if I disappeared. Thankfully with medical intervention and the help of a psychologist I have overcome most of these issues although people still see those traits in me still. Your Mum’s and my great grandfather, Ion J E-W appears, from my research, to have been cut from the same cloth.
    Don’t bottle up your emotions. You have Mario who so obviously loves you and only wants the best for you, loving near relatives who I am sure are only to willing to be an ear or shoulder when needed.
    You are a strong individual but you are capable of sharing some of your load whether at work or in your personal life without being viewed as weak or useless or any other put-down adjective or noun you may want to call yourself.
    Have faith and I look forward to reading about your progress – no doubt done in your familiar witty or humourous way.
    Marilyn.

    1. Wow, quite an insight into the family and thank you for sharing your story; no doubt it brought up some painful memories. Some great advice in there of which you’re completely spot on about. I will definitely keep you posted!

Let me know your thoughts!