I’m genuinely confused as to why stress is often given the nickname of the ‘silent killer’. Silent?! Really? Anyone within a three mile radius of me will know about it when I’m stressed. I have a terrible potty mouth at the best of times but when I’m stressed or upset this bad habit can get out of control. I’ll slam doors, I’ll throw things down and bang and clatter my way through the day. I’ll curse loudly, growl noisily and I’m absolutely positive even my ‘eye rolls’ makes a sound when I’m stressed. Sometimes I’ll just need a big ole cry but I can assure you I’m anything but silent.
One area where I miraculously have managed to stay rather silent, however, is this blog. There’s no real drama to report – I’ve simply endured an incredibly hectic and stressful eight weeks and unfortunately things like writing and blogging had to take a backseat due to other priorities.
So presumably during this frantic couple of months I’ve not really been keeping up with fitness? Actually, it’s been the one thing that’s kept me sane this entire time…..
I’d had a particularly bad week. There had been tears (and I’m really not a ‘cryer’), little sleep, missed meals and a lot of worrying. When it came to Saturday morning, surely the best thing I could have done was sleep in, put my feet up and watch some television? Whilst that sounded like heaven, I made myself get up and go to parkrun. And once that had finished, I made myself go to crossfit. And it was absolutely the best thing I could have done.
I didn’t run myself into the ground, nor did I give myself a hard time about weights that I couldn’t lift. But I did let my friends rally round me. I did slow down to chat to people at parkrun and say hello. When I started failing lifts at a weight I knew I should be able to manage, I took a deep breath and let the coach give me a few pointers. My ears pricked up as a few people shouted some encouragement my way. And all of a sudden that bar flew up and I didn’t stop smiling for the rest of the session.
When stuff gets hard, often the easiest thing in the world is to curl up into a little ball until it all goes away. I often hear the phrase “be kind to yourself”. And it’s a sentiment I agree with. But kind doesn’t have to mean lazy. After a tough day I long to just get home, close the curtains and mooch in front of mindless tv. I tell myself “I deserve this”. But after a few hours of it I end up feeling worse. That particular Saturday morning I left the house feeling drained, tearful and carrying the weight of the world upon my shoulders. I came home a couple of hours later having push pressed that weight from my shoulders into another galaxy.
For me it’s not just about those magical endorphins and the euphoric highs they can create. It’s about getting outside in some green space and leaving your computer/phone/paperwork behind. It’s about being amongst like-minded people. It’s about setting an hour aside to forget your day job and focus on the task at hand…whether that be reaching the finish line or getting to the end of a workout. And then congratulating one another when you’re done. (Not to mention the fact that I’ll fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow).
Some wear stress as a badge of honour.
“You’ve worked fifty hours this week – is that all?!”
“You haven’t had a lunch break this month – what’s a lunch break? I’ve never had one of those!”
(Don’t you just hate those people?). Personally I avoid stress as much as possible. I know that I’m much more productive if I can take a thirty minute break to go for a walk to clear my head. I can then come back to my desk refreshed and ready to crack on. And on the days I’m genuinely unable to take a break then I make it a priority to take some exercise when I get home.
But my version of being kind to myself is to get out and enjoy a gentle run with friends, walk up a hill with family or pick up something heavy for a bit with some rowdy encouragement. To surround myself with people who have all turned up for a variety of different reasons but we ultimately have the same goal – to become better. Not necessarily to be the best, but just be a better version of what we were yesterday. Whether that be running a little faster, lifting a little heavier or simply feeling better about ourselves and leaving more able to cope with whatever the day has to throw at us.
I’m thankfully at the end of my stressful period now and I’m looking forward to a much more relaxed summer. But on the days that life might throw me a curveball, I’ll lace up my runners, chalk up my hands and remember my new life motto:
N.B. This is a light-hearted post about my little struggles of late and how I’ve personally dealt with them and is by no means a serious post about mental health issues or advice. That being said, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, please don’t keep quiet. Dealing with stress over a prolonged period of time can have serious effects on our mental and physical health. Here’s a good place to start – http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/understanding-stress.aspx