I am not a doctor, nor am I a professional in the medical field, however, I have experienced more times than I care to count, a significant amount of stress, and how it can show itself on not only our skin but our mind and body too. If you too are struggling with the effects of stress this may be the article for you.
We seem to be in a place where we think we should be busy. All of the time. I don’t understand how it happened but it’s almost like if we are not busy, then we are not reaching our full potential? Or we are not succeeding in life?
When we rest, when we actually stop for a minute, we feel guilty? Like we should be doing something. Something important. Something enriching. So even though we take the occasional break to recharge because our bodies are practically screaming at us to stop, we don’t actually benefit from it because we are sat there stressing about the fact that we should be doing something. It is a vicious circle!
I know, I do it all the bloody time too.
It’s not good for us though guys. It effects our skin (in ways you wouldn’t even imagine) it effects our health, our happiness. Bloody everything.
So today I am going to share a little story with you (we all know I love a good story), and feature the way stress can affect our skin, and what we can do about it.
To call me a ‘stress head’ would be an understatement. I get stressed about EVERYTHING. However, often I don’t even realise I am stressed, so I just keep going until my body gives in and I am forced into bed with an illness.
A few years ago, whilst working in what was my absolute favorite job, I started to feel pretty run down. It crept up quite slowly at first, just this nagging feeling in the background that I obviously pushed aside because I was far too busy!
Gradually I started to feel worse and worse. My sleeping pattern changed and I really struggled to fall asleep at night, I just couldn’t switch my brain off. I felt tired every morning like I hadn’t slept at all.
The smallest things started to irritate me or upset me, and I could lose my temper or start crying for no apparent reason.
In addition, I just started to feel unwell, and then I noticed strange rashes appearing on my body. Dry, red patches of skin. My complexion looked dull and drawn. It was at his stage that I started to get a little worried and do what we all do, consulted Dr. Google obviously.
By the end of my ‘research’, I concluded that I must be dying from quite a horrific disease. Clearly, I needed to see a doctor immediately! Yet I couldn’t, I was far too busy.
However, eventually, I was forced to actually seek the advice of a real doctor.
After several blood tests and many questions, I was diagnosed with stress.
I left the doctor’s annoyed. How could I possibly be stressed!? I loved my life. I had a great job, beautiful children, a wonderful husband, amazing friends and family. I had nothing to be stressed about.
In addition, stress doesn’t make you feel this poorly! Stress doesn’t do this to your skin! Clearly, the doctors have got it wrong, and won’t they be sorry when I drop dead from this horrific disease I have been diagnosed with thanks to Dr.Google.
So I carried on being busy. Prioritising everything, and everyone, above myself and my own health, and the symptoms got worse and worse.
One day, after a particularly horrific night’s sleep I decided, rather begrudgingly, to explore the ‘real doctors’ diagnosis and try to take some time off. Make myself a priority. Only for a short period of time. Solely so that I can prove this doctor wrong so that they will actually find out what was really wrong with me, obviously.
I booked some time off work and spent a week focusing on myself. My life. My health, and the ways in which I could look after myself a little better. This went against everything I knew. My kids are always the priority. My husband, my job, the bloody housework. There has always been a long list of priorities, and I would find myself right at the bottom.
I struggled at first, relaxing wasn’t something I was used to. I felt guilty about it. Whilst I was sat at home with my feet up, my husband was running around at work, picking the kids up from school, and so on. I should be helping.
However, I was so intent on proving the doctor wrong, my resolve stuck, and I solely focused on myself. I spent time making nutritious meals, I started taking my vitamins and supplements religiously. I would have a bath, not because I needed to get clean, but to just enjoy pampering myself for a change.
Most importantly, I stopped. Since I wasn’t constantly busy, racing around after everyone else, my brain switched on and I took a good look at my life. Whilst I loved every aspect of it, I realised that I was spreading myself too thin. Working 50 hours a week, looking after 3 children, keeping on top of the housework, and having a social life. I could quite possibly be doing too much?
Towards the end of the week, the rashes on my skin had nearly disappeared. My complexion had a bit of life to it, looked a bit brighter. My sleeping pattern had improved and I had found myself falling to sleep a little faster, and staying asleep.
I felt a little better in myself. I didn’t feel as emotional.
Bloody hell, that doctor was right.
It turns out, stress can manifest in the strangest of ways, and you don’t sit there and think “oh I am stressed”. A lot of the time we don’t even know we are.
Whilst we can’t put ourselves at the top of that priorities list all of the time, we do need to make a conscious effort to try, sometimes.
Our children, our families, jobs, and lives are important, but so are we, and what good are we to any of them if we are so run down because we constantly push our own needs aside?
Being ‘busy’ is not something we should be proud of. It isn’t a status symbol to show off about. The same as, looking after ourselves and putting our own needs first, isn’t something to feel guilty about.
Self-care is unbelievably important and the only person that can make sure this is happening, is you.
Try to make yourself the priority. It’s amazing what a little ‘me-time’ and self-care can do.