74% of UK adults have felt stressed out to the point where they couldn't cope in the past year.
At the moment people are waiting upwards of 56 weeks to receive help through the NHS.
Those figures left me dumbfounded until I delved deeper into the experiences I had surrounding my struggles with stress. As I began to pick apart my memories, I realized that my struggles came in stages.
Stage 1. Complete Lack of Awareness
This stage still fascinates me.
I always believed being high-strung was my reset. It didn’t matter what I did, I was always on the go and running a million miles an hour. It was just a part of my personality. Hell, I was proud of it! Adrenaline was my fuel. As a Type A professional, this is very common.
I have met a lot of driven, determined, focused individuals who have this state of mind. When you’re productive, hitting goals and not having an issue, why would you slow down? None of us seemed aware, nor did we care to give it a second thought. This led to the next stage.
Stage 2. Denial
This stage was the hardest.
After a few years of being the energizer bunny, cracks began to show. My health plummeted. My face became a landmine of cold sores and I was constantly having issues with my stomach.
However, if someone said it was because I was stressed and anxious, I became immediately frustrated. I had been running a million miles per hour for years. Why all of a sudden would my health take a dramatic turn for the worst? It didn’t make sense.
Denial isn’t just difficult for the person, but for everyone around them. For me, nothing made sense. For the people around me, they had to watch me run around in circles. You don’t want it to be stress and anxiety. You want it to be something else—anything else! Many out there remain trapped in this stage. If they don’t, it becomes an uphill battle that doesn’t always provide solutions.
Stage 3. Frustration
Ah, good ole frustration.
This is the stage where you probably feel as though you’ve tried everything. Seen every doctor, nutritionist, naturopath, specialist, or shaman imaginable. I know I had (maybe not the shaman, but still).
At this stage, I had spent upwards of $30K looking for that magic pill; that one thing that could answer all the questions to all my health issues. I spent time, money, and energy solely focusing on my physical health. This rendered me extremely frustrated as self-pity became the new norm. Nothing worked!
Frustration is going to happen. I'm hopeful that I've caught you before this stage, but it's likely that many of you have also spent time, money, and energy researching causes of your health issues to no avail. Then, to have that realization that there isn’t a magic pill only worsens the issue. You almost wish you had some mysterious Amazonian virus or a new-age allergy.
No. You are suffering from stress and anxiety. Time to let go.
Stage 4. Acceptance
This stage can take people years. For me, it took three.
However, once I finally accepted that I was, in fact, stressed and anxious, guess what happened?
My health turned around.
My situation suddenly stopped looking bleak. I stopped looking for a quick fix that didn’t exist. I stopped researching different bacteria, viruses, parasites, allergies, and intolerances. I also began to recognize that stress and anxiety were something that I needed to consider more seriously. I stopped looking at it as a weakness, a flaw; something that didn’t exist for me.
Many people fight this. They fight it tooth and nail. Without accepting it, you end up fighting it. This leads to an increase in health issues.
It’s a brutal hamster wheel that can only be resolved with the fifth and final stage.
Stage 5. Action
This one is where you roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Working on yourself and focusing solely on an issue you originally didn’t think was a problem...
Yeah, taking action can be both tough and scary. But once I started taking action, there was no stopping me.
I stopped having stomach issues. My swelling decreased. My cold sores were nonexistent. I started to get a better handle on external factors. Yes, you have to be willing to change and make better choices. You have to be willing to do the work. But that’s when things start to fall into place. Your health stops being a problem and life becomes a lot better.
There are too many people suffering from anxiety in silence. They don’t seek help. They sit in their own thoughts, creating negative narratives that run on a permanent loop.
I desperately want to see that change.
Find someone that understands you. Someone that you trust. Someone that you feel comfortable letting down your barriers with. If you are anything like me, letting down your guard doesn’t come naturally. I hated being viewed as weak or that I had a problem. My pride stood in my way.
Once I got over that and started seeking help, it made a huge difference.
Sitting there thinking that you’re capable of getting through this alone needs to be the first thing you decide to change.
Get Your Shit Together--Literally and Figuratively