Dealing with stress – one size does not fit all

Some years ago, in the early 80s, I dipped my toe into nursing and found myself on night shift in the renal ward. The ward was predominantly full of women in their 50s and 60s, all with renal failure. It seemed odd to me and, being a curious young person, I asked the Matron…

“A cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down.”

“Pardon?…”

It seems that in the 1950s and 1960s, advertisers encouraged people to have a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. It was, apparently, the panacea for all ills: pain, boredom, stress, over enthusiasm… It was said to help calm the user and relieve them of pain. Unfortunately it was also addictive and an ingredient, phenacetin, caused widespread kidney disease. One of the main user groups were housewives who, disregarding any personal idiosyncrasies, were all given the same treatment. Hence the renal ward inhabitants of the 80s.

Years later I wonder at how things could have been different for those women I nursed so long ago.

Stress affects us all in different ways and, indeed, not all stress is bad, but it is in fact our differences that interest me the most.

Recently I started studying Ayurveda, a healing system with its roots in ancient India. One of the things consistently emphasised by lecturers is that there is no ‘one size fits all’.

Everybody is a unique individual – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Everybody reacts to things differently. What is stress for one person may not be for another.

Lizards do not bother me at all, but for a few people I know, having a lizard close by is cause for great anguish.

Some people find incorrect punctuation or grammar very stressful (luckily, I have a great editor).

Social stress – being alone or being with people…work stress – too much, not enough, difficult deadlines, colleagues, bosses….family stress….keeping up with the Joneses stress….FOMO stress…and so it goes on.

With all these different stressors and the different ways we are affected, the way we each deal with stress should be in tune with our own intricate uniqueness.

I like to manage stress with yoga, painting, meditation, communing with trees, going to India, being in the ocean, hugging people (not random strangers, but just about anyone else), reading, doing crosswords, walking with Craig the Staffy, playing with grandchildren, family time…et cetera.

Now you may look at this list and think, “What a load of hippie rubbish! Commune with trees? What is that about?” and that is all good because this is my intricately unique list for managing my stress. What’s yours?

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