positive stress

Wait, what?!?

The word ‘stress’ has always held such a negative connotation for me. And 95% of the articles and conversations in my life, that have been read, heard or participated in, have all been regarding the negative side of stress – distress, as some refer to it. It has never crossed my mind that there could be a ‘positive’ type of stress… until today.

I happened to be glancing through a backlog of emails, and the subject of one was ‘positive stress’. So that is the first one I read, of course! 😉
The official term for it is ‘Eustress’. It is defined as being ‘a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being‘.

The good stress is the kind that is nerve and hormone driven – it has to do with excitement, even if we are stepping into the unknown. The list of triggers for this kind of stress is very long, and as I read through them, I understood another statement I had read just moments earlier.

The statement was this : ”Many times good stress itself turns bad… because instead of continuing to challenge ourselves in a healthy way, we often tend to overwhelm ourselves by placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves, even though we know our resources are limited.”

One of the triggers for ‘good stress’ was ‘taking on a project that will help you showcase your strengths, which will not only bring you professional satisfaction, but many positive reactions in your emotional well-being too’.

My first reaction to reading that as being an example for eustress was a firm shake of my head. Because it didn’t happen that way for me at all! And as I pondered my reaction, I reread this statement : ”Many times good stress itself turns bad… because instead of continuing to challenge ourselves in a healthy way, we often tend to overwhelm ourselves by placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves, even though we know our resources are limited.”
And I realised that THAT was in fact what had happened to me in my situation!

In my late twenties, I had been offered an amazing opportunity to use my talents and head up a new project that my current boss was considering taking on. It would mean a lot of research, but I was going to be able to not only draft the presentation, but actually present it myself, to a group of influential people in that line of work. I hardly slept that night because I was just so excited, and the ideas swimming around in my head were ‘Olympic quality swimmers’ 😉
By lunchtime the next day, I was sick to my stomach, and convinced my heart was gearing up to fail me.
In our meeting of opportunity, my boss had actually been the one to fail me. He’d handed me the Dessert, before showing me the full menu!

The presentation meeting had already been scheduled – I had three days, start to finish!
None of the presentation work could be done during working hours, as I was already busy all day, handling all the administration for his other three businesses – this included payroll and bookkeeping etc. I was newly divorced with an eighteen-month-old baby girl, and an eight-year-old son, with no child care options available to me.
Eustress escalated quickly into distress. And by the time the meeting arrived, I was physically ill as a result of lack of sleep, and, well, ‘bad’ stress.

And at the end of it all, I was not only physically ill, but unhappy emotionally too – I knew it wasn’t my best work, I was disappointed in myself and felt inadequate…. and my confidence definitely took a knock.
I suppose the lesson in my personal experience with work stress was simply this : to know myself, to be realistic about the resources I have, and to learn to speak up before I get overwhelmed (or overwhelm myself, I suppose).
And, in all honesty, it would serve me to remember to apply that to all areas in my life 😉

I’ll close with this little list, which was provided as ways to include/introduce more positive stress in your life :

• Make an effort to learn something new every day – even if it is something small
• Get out of your comfort zone – try taking on a new challenge in the ‘great unknown’.
• Boost your positive endorphins by getting some exercise!
• Start delving into ways to set realistic, yet challenging, goals and try a new way each week, growing these over time.

And that’s all from me for today ❤
I’m off to spend some time on the new course I signed up for 😉

A Positive Attitude

I really love the above statement… and to add to it : I am 100% certain that something positive WILL happen today.

The important word to note in my little follow up statement is ‘something’.
Because my day could suck in general. I just never know. My attitude doesn’t have to.
And so, into my day, I bring a positive attitude that tells me : even when stuff goes wrong, even when you feel overwhelmed or sad or angry, even when a multitude of little things just don’t turn out right…. even then, I have the reassurance that if I take the time to stop and look, SOMETHING will have gone right and be a positive plus in my day.

And some days I truly DO have to stop and look. And REALLY think about the little things.
But when I choose to reflect, and do so in a way that is trying to find something GOOD, and just ignore all the bad for a few moments while I do so…. well, I never come up empty.

My ‘life attitude’ IS generally positive. It wasn’t always like this. And it definitely isn’t something easily maintained.
But I have found that leaning towards the positive is definitely far more beneficial for me than ‘reflecting on the negative’ and inviting bitterness and anger and sadness to rule my head and my heart.

Please don’t get me wrong…

My past has been very far from sunshine and roses – there have definitely been far too many dark clouds and thorns. And I wasted a lot of time dwelling on those – allowing thoughts in my mind and feelings in my heart that slowly began to eat away at me.
Not all those ‘situations’ have been resolved – but it’s amazing what a change of attitude can do!

Somebody mentioned that being ‘endlessly positive can be toxic’. But I think they have missed the point!

Life is FULL of negatives! Bad things happen to good people! I cry, I get angry – I still FEEL those negative emotions. But when we can take control of our attitudes? When we can still find SOMETHING good, despite the chaos and turmoil? We find ourselves unleashing a new power within, and a new strength! Because even when things are out of control around us, we will have control within us… and that brings a peace and inner joy that defies explanation!

My hope for you is that this weekend you will be reminded of all that is good in YOU, instead of all that is wrong in your world!

A long version of dire straits

THIS IS NOT MY USUAL TYPE OF BLOG POST – and yet in it you will find the pieces of me that tie up with previous posts. I am apologising BEFORE you read it for the raw emotions that will come across as negative – but there are snippets of positivity and lessons to be learned in reading it. Thank you for taking the time ❤

I’ve been struggling. There, I said it.
I didn’t realise how bad it was until I bumped into an acquaintance on Friday who asked me how the New Year has been treating me so far, and my eyes welled up with tears in response. I swallowed a lump in my throat and shrugged. I don’t know who was more embarrassed, him or me. I do know that when I threw the question back at him, I found myself in a situation yet again where I was the counsellor. Half an hour later we parted, him saying how grateful he was to have bumped into me and how much better he was feeling. I paid for my purchases, got in my car, and cried the whole way home.

This entire blog post will seem like a senseless contradiction – but there are moments where we just have to share what we’re going through and so that is what this is.
Because guess what? You are never going through anything alone.
I have no doubt in my mind that someone out there who reads this is probably in the same place as I am, but with different circumstances.

I read a blog post last week where someone listed their reasons for being depressed. I commented about them all being quite valid and I loved the response : ” I’m all for positive thinking and all that, but also believe in fully feeling and expressing our emotions so they don’t fester.”

It’s no surprise that the picture below is one that I agree with completely :

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Photo credit : onsizzle.com

I am WELL AWARE that things could be worse. I KNOW we could be suffering more. And hearing/reading about other situations and circumstances certainly makes me grateful if I am not facing the same – but just because my struggle is ‘less’, doesn’t mean that the hurt, anger and frustration that I feel has no validity. It also doesn’t mean that no one else can rely on me to be there for them and help them through their struggles.

I DO take time to self care, and just be. And I don’t know quite how to explain this next part, other than that this is my purpose – for some reason, even in my pain and tears, I will always make a way and be strong for those who need help. Yes, it’s a momentary distraction from my own circumstances, but that isn’t why I do it. And the strength to do it is not mine. My friends know better than to say to me, ”I didn’t want to ask you because I know you have a lot going on.”
Yes, I have boundaries. And there have been times where I have had to say to them, ”I’m sorry, I just can’t.” My levels of endurance are far too great though – and as much as I fight discussing religion and politics because of the damage that has been done to so many due to both, I KNOW that my help comes from above.

Recent events have left my faith feeling somewhat shaken – but unlike James Bond (shaken NOT stirred), something within me has stirred too. 

To be completely honest, things are looking grim. But I’m NOT giving in!

To outline some of the circumstances surrounding these things, I screenshotted a dear friend’s shared Facebook post – she is one of the most positive people I know, and very seldom dwells on the negativity of our country as it stands right now.

SAA is our airline. Eskom is our sole electricity provider. SABC is our broadcasting commission. Transnet is the custodian of ports, rail and pipelines.
The Eastern Cape is hit the hardest by all of the above – and that’s where I live.

With major infrastructure falling apart, it is no surprise that the effects are being felt astronomically by small business. There are no jobs available – the ones that are advertised have to select 1 employee from over 180 applications. Employers are offering very low salaries and wages because they know how desperate people are.
Here, if you work for one hour at minimum wage, you will be considered fortunate to be able to use that one hour’s wage to purchase one loaf of bread and one litre of milk.

I have lost four people in these 27 days of January to suicide – the reason being financial.

There has been a recent outbreak of a terrible stomach bug here – people have been hospitalised, and I believe that in the rural areas there have been deaths. It’s no surprise when you see my town’s main water supply – and consider the amount of chemicals that need to be added to make it run clear in the taps (pic from November last year)

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My children and I DO NOT drink tap water – which means we have to PAY for drinking water. And the three of us are water babies when it comes to drinking preferences (as well as coffee for me).

If it wasn’t for my brother, the children and I would have starved to death by now.

But all doors are closing, fast.

Small business closed. 😦 No jobs available. The chain of payment for services rendered is completely broken – A didn’t pay B, so B couldn’t pay C, so C couldn’t pay D, so D closed its doors – which left E, F, G completely stranded etc.

I have extensively researched moving overseas. Those doors are all closed too. I cannot go anywhere without securing employment first – a company that will petition their government/immigration procedures and possibly give me a chance to be approved. The list of candidates and people doing their utmost to follow this route is extensive, to say the least. Their advantages? They are gainfully employed and have some sort of university degree behind them.

I didn’t get a university degree because I fell pregnant, and after being abandoned by the father, I chose to keep my baby. I then chose to get married. Youth, and the struggle of being a mother and a wife and working full time blurred my vision. As did the after effects of abuse. I should have done more. I take full responsibility for that, and understand that my complacency in the years that counted is the reason I am where I am now.

Stuck. Stressed. Frustrated. Angry with myself. Hurting. Sad.

I can’t afford to study now. And with our education system being what it is, there is a very real fear that in the three years it will take, any degree issued here will be worthless anyway.
I am deeply concerned for my son. He finishes his degree in July. There are NO JOBS. Many young people finished their degrees two years ago (I know three personally) and are still without employment. My only hope is that HIS degree will somehow be enough to open an overseas door for him – but he doesn’t want to leave us behind. There is merit in that – but at the same time, I need him to at least have a future.
(I’ll admit that recently I felt more pro New Zealand, for the simple fact that we could all go together – his age would allow him to still fall under me, 24 being the cut off. He can’t go with me, as my dependent, anywhere else. I don’t want to leave him behind either.)

My daughter has been selected for two dancing competitions this year – qualifiers for world championships. My mind is racing with regards to fundraising – I cannot carry costs and will not ask my brother – he does enough. And in the back of my mind there is that voice screaming, ‘how will you fundraise when people have nothing to give’. Impossible.

I’ve looked extensively at further study – diploma wise – with overseas correspondence institutions. I even went so far as to first search the possible industries and fields of jobs available to me in the US and the UK, and then find qualifications relating to those. The financial implications make all of this impossible.

There is a saying something along the lines of this : ‘Sometimes when one door closes, we are so busy staring at the closed door, that we miss the window that has opened.’

And based on the recent reblogged post, how dare I limit God???!!!

My mind is reeling – and I am trying to make sense of it all. Last night, I was just quiet. A meditation of sorts. But there has been no great revelation – I do know though that good things take time 😉

And for now we have food to eat and a roof over our heads – something NOT to be taken lightly in our country at this time.

It’s all hopeless. It’s all impossible. It’s all every negative emotion that you can possibly think of.

BUT

While I have no control over the circumstances and all economic indicators show that it is indeed looking dire, and hopeless – I have control of me. I may be a walking contradiction at this time, because I FEEL hopeless – and yet, I remain the prisoner of that beautiful word : H O P E. I want so desperately to just give up, because I really am exhausted. BUT I CAN’T. And not just because I have two beautiful ”children”. It’s just not in me. My spirit refuses. It simply will NOT.

The negative emotions are screaming loudly at me at the impossibility of it all. The choices I made in my youth, and as a defiance to everything I probably knew because of hurt and abuse that once again were not in my control, add fuel to the fire of those emotions, screaming belittlement and blame on me – leaving me feeling guilty and downtrodden.

But every tear, and every pain in my heart (and yes, it is almost a physical heart pain), whisper to me : It IS possible, there IS hope, keep going. You’ve come too far to give up now. 

And so, dear reader, do not doubt… I may FEEL that I want to give up.

But I won’t.

optimist-someone-who-figures-that-taking-a-step-backward-after-taking-a-step-forward-is-not-a-disaster-its-more-like-a-cha-cha

Photo credit : Facebook

 

I’m going to look for my dancing shoes 😉