This past week I’ve had a bit of a wake up call with self care and the impact that stress can physically have on our bodies.
My parents were caught in the Crestwood-Bonny Hills fires and although I am very relieved and happy to say they are now fine, there were moments when I thought they weren’t. Our family endured a horrendous night, fighting off embers from an enormous bush fire that threatened to engulf their entire retirement resort. Communication was brief, sporadic and awash with panic as I tried to get a handle on the situation, 250km away, in the middle of the night. Adrenaline kicked in, I was imagining all sorts of tragic outcomes and at times, I was absolutely beside myself, thinking that I had lost my precious parents.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night, my mind still wired with the potential worst outcome. The next day, although I knew they were relatively safe, conditions were still pretty dire in the area and unpredictable. I was a complete emotional mess… I really did not expect the impact the whole experience had on me. I’m a logical, practical and fairly calm person by nature, but here I was, crying at every bit of news footage of the fires, and even the thought of what transpired the night before. This went on for days… and then it morphed into anxiety, sitting in the pit of my stomach like a dead weight. I’m still moving through that at the moment, but I’m getting there. Slowly.
This recent experience reminded me of a similar one I had years ago, where one night I thought I had lost my beautiful daughter Renee. She had recently acquired a mobile phone as a young teenager and she went off to a carnival on the Town Green in Port Macquarie with her friends, with strict instructions to call me and/or remain contactable with the phone. Well…all went to plan early on, however as the night went on, I couldn’t get in touch with her, the phone constantly ringing out. I reached a point where I imagined the worst, she’d been abducted and was lying in the bush somewhere. To cut a long story short, she ended up at a friend’s house watching movies with the phone on silent (or that’s what she told me :-)), anyway, I managed to track her down and there was a happy ending. Or so I thought. During the following weeks, my hair started to fall out, I succumbed to stress induced eczma all over my body. A prime example of the significant impact stress can physically have on our bodies.
We’re all stressed by many things in this day and age, and being in that constant state of fight or flight is so damaging to us. It’s no secret that stress is a significant contributing factor in disease.
I consider myself a relatively healthy person, I do all the so-called “right things”, exercise regularly, eat as cleanly as I can most of the time and practice lots of self-care activities like yoga, meditation, immersing myself in music and regularly travelling with purpose. However, I am a giver and a feeler, I absorb the energy of others. I’m a people pleaser, and I can be a little sensitive at times, often taking things to heart unnecessarily… and that can be stress inducing. Well in fact, I know it is.
I watched a really interesting show on Netflix yesterday called Heal. It’s a fascinating documentary about the powerful connection between the human psyche and physical health. Well worth a look, if you’re interested in improving your health. I kind of had an epiphany as I watched it. Amongst many other things, they talked about forgiveness being a powerful tool in putting the negative energies aside and moving on. It reminded me of a quote I once saw, and it really resonated with me at the time, but I let it slip and forgot to enforce it in my daily life.
“Forgiveness is not about letting someone off the hook, for their actions, but freeing ourselves of negative energies that bind us to them.”
Often we can’t control stress inducing incidents that happen to us, like losing loved ones, friends etc.. but forgiveness really is something we can practice in the process of letting negative energy go. We come across people every day, who do or say things that upset us, or don’t align with our values. Our internal response to the actions and behaviours of others really only affect us… if we let it.
I know this is all good in theory, but I’m determined to look after myself a bit better and choosing to forgive those around me for whatever it is they do or say that upsets me. Moving on and letting that stress go, is a good start in chipping away at the mountain.