Laugh, cry, shout, hug
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It's over a week since the massive earthquake here in Christchurch. No need to remind you of that. And as the people of this beautiful city try to adapt to the new normal, there is more danger lurking.
Stress is necessary for your survival and is in fact beneficial in moderate amounts. However what happened in our city on September 4 and February 22 have put many of us into stress overload. Your normal coping mechanisms are overwhelmed and the stress can start to have a negative effect on our lives - physically, mentally and emotionally.
Stress manifests itself in so many ways. Check through the list below. If you or those close to you can tick more than 5 of these symptoms, it's likely the stress is starting to get to you:
- disturbed sleep
- feeling helpless
- lack of appetite
- lack of motivation
- increased appetite
- chest pain
- wanting to run away
- high blood pressure
- difficulty concentrating
- muscle aches
- increased drinking, smoking, drug use
- change in libido
- feeling indecisive
- stomache ache
It's not a complete list.....there can be many other signs of stress. But it gives you an idea of the extent of the potential damage it can cause.
I also know that bottling up your feelings can also cause problems. You may not want to "burden" others with how you feel, but keeping it in can make you feel physically ill, and can increase the stress sysmptoms.
The dangerous thing with stress, is that sometimes it can sneak up you, even though you think you're OK. Stress can also stick with you, and not let go. And the worst part is that it can become normal. And that can cause you serious long-term effects on your health, including heart disease, diabetes, migraine. Long-term stress can also compromise your digestive, immune and reproductive systems - causing gastrointestinal problems, vulnerability to disease and infection, menstrual problems as well as difficulty conceiving.
So what can you do about it?
There's no one answer. Because stress can affect you in so many ways, so the way to deal with can vary too. But the key is to do something. Try things and see what makes you feel better. The worst thing you can do is hope it goes away by itself. It might not. Help yourself and help others too, by encouraging them to take action.
Again, here's a bunch of ideas that may help. If you have other suggestions that have worked for you, please add them in the comments.
- talk to people
- do deep breathing exercises
- go for a run
- yoga or meditation
- eat lots of fresh fruit and veges
- listen to some relaxing music
- get a massage (OK, I'm biased, but it works!)
- take a walk on the beach
- see a professional counsellor
- burning essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, chamomile and neroli
- play with a cat or a dog - pets are proven to be therapeutic
- have a good laugh - joke with friends, watch a comedy DVD
- cry when you need to - don't bottle it up
- go somewhere and shout out loud - but try not to scare the neighbours
- hug someone - hugs are nurturing - they really do help
Please share this post if you think it will help someone else. It's really, really important that we look after each other here in Christchurch. We need people to be as strong as possible as we look to rebuild our city. We need to support each other. Help each other. Share the load.
Remember - LAUGH, CRY, SHOUT, HUG
No one is in this alone. That includes you.
Kia Kaha Christchurch
Posted: Friday 4 March 2011