When stress joins the party

I didn’t write a post last week. The desire to write hadn’t left me, but the old familiars of stress and overwhelm were knocking on the door. My focus has been gradually ebbing (over quite some time to be honest) and I felt confuddled . And then I read Renee’s post yesterday, about acknowledging our feelings. And I knew.

Hello stress

I need to take a breath. To recognise that life right now is not really in the ‘normal’ category. That it is ok for some things to have fallen down the list of priorities. The things that overwhelm us are generally the things that we don’t acknowledge or give enough credit to in our lives.

For me right now it’s the building work going on at our house, now 4 months in and about half way through. It was going through the process of making the choice to move our daughters to a different school and adjusting to the change.  Some things can’t be avoided or ignored.

I haven’t been hiding it, but I wasn’t really admitting that these things were that big a deal. But yes they are.

Life events = stress

Having you whole house turned upside down by the builders while still trying to live there, not having your own space and privacy, despite a really good builder, is invasive. Trying to constantly make decisions and choices about where things go or what finishes to use (for a person who is notoriously bad at decisions) takes its toll.

And the emotional weight of trying to decide what is best for your children when you realise they are not thriving at school and you have a fundamental difference of opinion with the headteacher, but you wonder if out of the frying pan is going to lead into the fire?

Life events come in every shape and size. Moving house, having children, the death of a loved one, a difficult choice, new jobs, new school, new relationships. Change. We know this don’t we?


It’s easy to brush over these in the everyday. I get on and deal with events, but I haven’t accounted for the stress they cause me. But I can trace the difficulties I am having in other areas back to the stress that these events have brought with them. And everything makes so much more sense.

Inside the event, inside your life, getting on and living it, it is easy to get stuck. You just keep going on the hamster wheel and hoping that it’s all going to turn out right.

Source: giphy.com

Putting stress in the corner

But along the way the burden can be heavy. The difference between coping and not is being able to recognise the burden. It’s ok to want to put it down sometimes and just be yourself. To garner the strength to pick it up again.

This is where self-care comes in. Rubbing your metaphorical shoulders and stretching your arms. Instead of crouching lower and lower under our burdens sometimes we need to consciously put them down in the corner and rest.

Think of that imagery.  Crouched over, looking down, all you can see is the floor. But when you can be upright, you are able to look all around you, properly assess what is going on. That is why taking a break is so important.

Last week I lit candles in the evenings for the beautiful light they provide, and that ‘hygge’ feeling. That helped. I went to bed early. That helped too. At the beginning and end of the day I try to focus on what is going to and has happened. That helps . The ‘three things’ to do list is a good starting point. Simple things help us put our burdens down.

Are you good at recognising when the stress levels are rising? What do you do to put down your burdens and refresh yourself?

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Tara says:

    I definitely think recognising stress is half the battle. When things feel a bit off, I take a step back and look at what could be making me feel like that. Even when I can’t do anything about it, seems to take the power out of it for me. I hope your simple care points are a big help.

  2. maddy@writingbubble says:

    I think having builders in the house counts as a massive cause of stress! As does your daughters starting a new school. I don’t think I’d quite clocked how much of a toll this half term was taking on me. I knew work stuff was stressful but I think it was the other background things – the new school for my eldest, the starting school for my youngest, the getting used to new routines and relationships etc – that kind of sneaked up on me and made me feel a bit bleugh. Oh and this has been such a year for stress caused by the news. I think we all need to be kinder to ourselves and you’re right, simple things can make a big difference as can just acknowledging everything we have going on. Thanks for linking to #whatImWriting xxx

  3. Thanks for this post – it’s good to be reminded to take a moment out to check on our own wellbeing. I also read Renee’s post about acknowledging sadness and I thought that was excellent too – these posts go well together and feel timely for me! On a slightly different note I feel your pain about the work going on in your house – that’s a very stressful experience, I’m not surprised you’re feeling it x

  4. I read your comment on Katie at Pouting in Heels blog and wanted to pop over and say hi! You’re so right that we need to recognise stress and not just try to pretend you aren’t feeling it – in my opinion, that just allows it to fester and get bigger and out of control. You’re doing the right thing in taking care of yourself – really helps! I’ve lived with my three kids and hubby with no roof in the middle of winter and no central heating while our house was basically being rebuilt. I couldn’t’ see any escape at the time – but by recognising what I was going through and knowing that it was actually a big deal and taking care as much as I could – we got through it all. We look back and laugh now at what we went through. But I do often laugh with a shudder and a little voice in my head saying ‘F**k that, I’m not doing that again!” Good luck with your decision making and I really enjoyed your post! xx Lisa (@ukglowology)

  5. I have had to have similar conversations with myself a lot recently… Leigh starting his career as a doctor has been a huge adjustment for our family, even though it in theory brings with it more time for me. Add in a few other hiccups which individually are all eminently dealable with but together become much more challenging and it is easy to understand why I have had moments of nearly being overwhelmed by the panic rising in my gut. I’ve fallen into a bit of a trap of reaching for a glass of wine to chill me out in the evenings, but you’ve reminded me that there are much healthier choices to be made and I should probably start reaching for those instead 🙂 xx

  6. Marija Smits says:

    Having building work going on in your home IS stressful! I’m sure that having a comfortable and quiet environment is essential for HSPs so I understand your stress. Anyway, it’s good to understand that it’s there and then look for healthy ways to deal with it. All the best, M x

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