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Ramblings from a neurodivergent Brain- How to manage Stress

Stress Blog 1

We all have stress. But doesn’t it feel like some days, it is just an out of control mudslide, moving down a mountain at an incredibly awkward speed with no hope but creating a pile of big brown crap at the bottom…

That metaphor vividly captures how overwhelming and uncontrollable stress can feel at times, especially during periods when it seems like everything is happening at once, with little to no relief in sight. The feeling of an “out of control mudslide” is a powerful description of how stress can sweep away our sense of stability and control, leaving us feeling helpless in its wake.

I am no stranger to stress but lately it is kicking my butt. I am struggling to recover as I normally would. If you know me you might know that as a parent of 7 children with complex needs, the journey has been at times exciting and required a lot of energy. I am writing that in the nicest way possible because I do not want my children to think that they are the cause of my stress. Stress feels like layer, and overtime they become heavier, and more difficult to cut through. Lately I feel like I just can’t keep up. I have had to start to look at how I am coping with stress and in what ways I am welcoming it into my life.

How does stress affect us?

As stress builds the emotional and physical impacts can be worrisome in our lives.
The research tells us that our physical health can be impacted by chronic disease with the six leading causes of death from stress being: heart disease, lung ailment, cancer, accident, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. It also affects our immune system making us more likely to get sick from disease and infections. Prolonged stress can alter the effectiveness of cortisol to regulate the inflammatory response because it decreases tissue sensitivity to the hormone meaning that we feel tired, sore, and are sicker than we should be. You are not alone because 33% of people report feeling extreme stress and 77% experience stress that effects their physical health.

It doesn’t just affect our physical well-being, but also our mental wellness leading to anxiety and depression.

All of these factors can impact our work, our sleep, and our relationship. Many people turn to alternative coping mechanisms to help that only contribute to problem such as substances

The good News about reducing stress

I think the good news is we can do thing to help, and the more we slide the more we need to do. We must figure a way to get back to the top of the mountain or at least out of the way of the mudslide.

What might feel good for me, might not work for you. Funny enough when I really committed myself to feeling better, I turned to the thing that I used to do as a child that brought me great happiness and then prioritized them. I mean I scheduled them in and made them non-negotiable. That was a journey in boundaries. You hear people say that all the time, and I would think, sure I have good boundaries. I totally didn’t. I still struggle. There are 4 pillars of healthy boundaries…..

Self- Awareness

Embracing self-awareness has been a journey, one filled with gentle revelations and tender acknowledgments of who I truly am. It’s about peeling back the layers to discover my own unique needs, values, limits, and emotional landscapes. There was a time when I stumbled upon the realization that I, too, had boundaries, and it was perfectly okay—no, necessary—to honor them. This journey towards self-awareness has taught me to tune in to those soft murmurs within, the ones that nudge me towards what feels right and gently warn me against what doesn’t.

For too long, I turned a deaf ear to those whispers, shushing them with a blend of neglect and self-reproach, continually pushing beyond what felt comfortable. But, embarking on this path of self-discovery, I’ve learned the power of listening intently to my inner voice, acknowledging its wisdom, and holding my needs and limits in high regard.

I’m learning to befriend that voice inside, treating it with the kindness and attention it deserves. It’s about recognizing what I can embrace with open arms and what I should step away from, all the while respecting my unique emotional responses. This is a delicate dance of understanding and acceptance, one where I’m constantly learning to adjust my steps to the rhythm of my own needs and comfort levels.

This journey is far from easy. It requires patience, compassion, and a steadfast commitment to oneself. Yet, it’s one of the most rewarding paths I’ve chosen to take. By listening, accepting, and valuing my needs, limits, and comfort levels, I’m not just honoring myself but also forging deeper, more authentic connections with those around me. In sharing this journey, my hope is to inspire you to embark on your own exploration of self-awareness, to listen to your inner whispers, and to embrace the beautiful boundaries that make you uniquely you.

When you’re caught in such a situation, where stress feels not just overwhelming but also profoundly disruptive, it’s crucial to recognize this state and take steps to regain some sense of control and perspective. Here are some tailored suggestions to help navigate and learn how to practice Self-Awareness, the first pillar of Healthy Boundaries.

  1. Acknowledge your Feelings:
    First and foremost, acknowledge that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Accepting your feelings without judgment. Say this to yourself, all feelings are ok. Just notice what you are feeling and notice where you feel it in your body.
  2. Immediate Stress Relievers
    Do you know why people tell you to breath, because stress increases heart rate and breathing, if we focus on our breath and calm it down, our brain and body follow.
    Breathing exercises: Even if it’s just for a few minutes, deep breathing can help slow down the emotional mudslide, offering a moment of pause. Do it for a very short time. Try this website for more ideas.. here
    Physical movement: If possible, a quick walk, stretch, or even shaking out your limbs can help release the buildup of stress hormones. I have started swimming again. The thing I loved as a child and what I still love. I swim at least twice a week and the water and movement do calm me. Find your thing… how did your body use to like to move?
  3. Seek Support
    Either attend an online support group, I attend several for somethings in my life that can make me start sliding down the mudslide. Talk to a friend, a family member, or your partner. Feeling connected is important, being connected is healing. Seek professional therapy, we are here to listen.
  4. Self-Compassion
    Simply put… be kind to yourself. It is the most powerful tool in stress reduction and self-awareness. I am practicing the words, I need…. And no, I am not able to do that today….

Stay tuned for the other pillars of Healthy Boundaries….


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