• Rebecca Laidlaw

How to cope with Stress

I know I am not alone in this story. While it was a time in my life that I was at my lowest, it is important that we can open up the conversation and talk about stress.

A few years ago I went to the doctor in a lot of physical pain. My body was on fire, my head was constantly throbbing, and my mind would not shut off to give me two seconds of peace. I couldn’t sleep, I was struggling with binge eating and felt totally worthless.

At the doctors, I did not expect to cry. I am not a crier it was bred into me as a child to be strong. I tried and failed to refuse a sick line and anti-depressants because I truly was at the end of the line.

I took the sick line and the anti-depressants. I felt defeated like people would judge me, as if I’d failed. Now I know that this isn’t true but at the time I sure felt like it.

It was all down to stress. A relationship breakdown, being back home with my parents, struggling through Uni, financial worries - the whole lot. I was a wreck. All these little things built up and up and up.

And I had to take time off work. At the time I viewed this as the ultimate failure. I’d have to tell my boss and then surely people in the office would ask. How embarrassing.

I felt like an imposter. I'd lived my whole life as Miss Positivity and now there I was, staring at this box of anti-depressants.

Something had to change. I was starting to feel like it was all too much and I was totally alone in the world. Even when consciously I knew that my family was there for me, the company I was working for supported my time off, and I had friends I could talk to (I just couldn't bring myself to because the embarrassment to share this story was crippling). I was by no means alone but I still felt alone and I was keeping myself there.

That was the first time I went to therapy - suggested by my mum. My mum is a savior and I am truly grateful for her. I was also dabbling in personal development (mainly Tony Robbins) and I decided to actually listen to what they had to say and I started to practice yoga too.

As you can imagine I have a lot of different maintenance strategies for stress including yoga and meditation. However in the depths of stress because life can hand us that sometimes my brain decides nope, not gonna do that, not gonna do the thing that helps me. I know what works now BUT don’t we all love to self-sabotage.

Here is a strategy that sounds counterintuitive I know but it works for me. It's a simple 3 steps and 5 minutes out of your day

  1. Set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes.

  2. Close your eyes.

  3. Let the thoughts come.

We spend so much time trying not to think of the bad things, the hard things, and the negativity. Then feeling guilty or frustrated when we do. It is natural to want to resist this but sitting in this for 5 minutes is always a lot easier than the 24/7 most of us experiencing stress are living.

Give yourself 5 minutes today to just listen to what that stress in your mind wants you to hear.

That’s the first step.

Then you can start to get curious and that’s where the real soul work begins.

If you feel stressed right now you are not alone. A study in 2018 (pre-covid) by the Mental Health Foundation found that 74% of people had felt so stressed or overwhelmed in 2017 they felt unable to cope.

So if this could help someone you know, please share this with them, or send them a message to let them know you are thinking about them. Because the stats show we are in this together - let's act like it.



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