I have been that stressed out, burnt out person, who needed to find ways of coping with stress and build my resilience before it was too late. My answer was to walk 500 miles, the Camino De Santiago, but I know not everyone has the time or inclination to do this.
Some key points I have learnt about stress:
- EVERYONE EXPEREIENCES STRESS – that feeling or reaction to something that feels like it is demanding leading to feelings such as tense, irritable, unhappiness and overwhelm
- STRESS CAN BE GOOD FOR US – some level of stress can help to motivate us, to overcome challenges and to succeed.
- STRESS affects people differently – depending on the person’s situation and the demands on them. Each of us have different expectations, dreams, and commitments, which impact on our reaction to new demands, changes and how we then cope.
- THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF STRESSORS
ACUTE – caused by an event, maybe short lived, life events from what can appear small – what to wear for the interview, to preparing and arranging Christmas, to no one has put the bins out again, or a change in our life
- ROLLING – where one stressful event leads to another. For example -When we get up late in the morning, we are rushing to get others ready and out the door as well as ourselves, arrive at work late to be irritated by the instant demands of a work colleague asking for some information before you have sat down.
- CHRONIC – This is where a stressful situation is ongoing and appears not to be getting any better, a work related situation, family or work life balance.
All three kinds of stress are debilitating.
Stress affects us both physically and emotionally and cognitively - others may notice before we do.
Stress First Aid Kit – Lessons from the Camino
- Take breaks during the day, relax, walk around
To walk along way each day, without injury, you needed to pace yourself. The same is true in day to day life
- Take a moment to breathe deeplyBreathe in fresh air if possible, but where ever you are breathing deeply for 3 to 5 breathes means you will have, stopped put the brake on before you react.
On the Camino it often helped with long hard accents.
- Eat a nutritious diet, try to eat some fresh fruit and vegetables
The Camino really opened my eyes to the value of eating to fuel the body and mind. Mostly it was plain simple balanced meals.
- Drink plenty of liquid – dehydration affects how well our bodies function
When walking long distances it is important to keep hydrated, for example dehydration can affect concentration, energy levels. To feel good we need to be hydrated with water, fruit teas try to avoid too much caffeine.
- Keep things in proportion
It is so easy to catastrophize and to fear the worst outcome. Challenge yourself, is it true, can there be another explanation/outcome. Can I break things down to smaller chunks, what are my options?
- Talk to someone, a loved one, friend colleague for support and help, there will be someone who is will listen, it may help with keep things in proportion
Walking the Camino there were times when I thought I cannot do this, I am not going to make it, but sharing my worries, my fears with others allowed them to support and encourage me.
- Say No, such a small word that we find so difficult to say to our loved ones and at work.
There were times when I was walking that I had to say No, to enable me to complete the walk. Knowing how far I could walk on any day and not just going along with others.
- Exercise – do something you enjoy, walking the dog, swimming, football, get your heart beating.
You will know by now that I am a passionate advocator of the benefits of being outdoors and of walking
- Make time to enjoy yourself with your loved ones, and on your own.
We are social animals and it is important to have a balance. Walking the Camino sometimes you walk on your own other times with people, and in the evening you often spend time talking laughing and sharing with others who are also walking the Camino
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