8 Words To Remember When Hardship Strikes
This week I’m pleased to offer a guest post written by Kay Johnson. Kay is a researcher, publisher and author originally from London, England, now living in Sherborne in Dorset, (125 miles west of London.) Kay’s diverse experiences with stress, heartache and tragedy – and the lessons therein – have helped her gain wisdom and insight aimed not only at healing and self-preservation. They have also helped her discover newfound strength, resilience, courage and comfort.
We often think we have no choice but to lead a life weighed down by stress.
As problems and difficulties come flying our way, there’s a tendency to think we have to accept all the worry that comes with them.
25 years ago, this was how I looked at things.
I was leading a busy, fulfilling life, but one that was excessively stressful.
At work, I had targets to meet, staff to manage, client meetings to organize and public speaking commitments to fulfil. Added to that, I found myself working alongside people who had very different values and priorities from my own.
Out of work, my social life was brimming over; I dashed from one engagement to the next. At the same time, a couple of personal relationships ran their course and finished with all the emotional turmoil that a parting brings.
I had always been a born worrier. But I kept going.
Somewhere along the way, it dawned on me that, as well as feeling angst ridden, I didn’t feel very well, and was exhausted all the time.
My Body Said ‘No More’
Soon afterward, my physical health gave out. I went down with a bang.
Suddenly I was sleeping 16 hours a day, experienced massive weight loss and had digestive problems that wouldn’t go away. It turned out that my immune system was shot to bits; little by little, stress had eaten away at my body’s reserves and ability to cope with constant pressure.
The first thing I had to do was get my strength back.
A colleague recommended a homoeopath who, over the next 18 months, helped restore my physical wellbeing.
However, I also realized that I had to change the way I was dealing with the ups and downs of everyday life.
It took me a while to appreciate that I couldn’t change the difficult people around me and often couldn’t change the demanding circumstances I was facing, but I could change the way I responded to those challenges.
The Turning Point
Little by little, I learned to see what was right rather than wrong in my life, focused on finding a way forward rather than being immobilized by the problem, and, I learned to search for ‘the lesson’ in even the most dire of situations.
By changing the way I thought about the difficulties I was facing, I started to manage the stress in my life more effectively.
Perhaps the most surprising revelation of all was when I realized that the best way to control fear and worry is to face up to the stressful situation and take some action to resolve the problem, even if it means stepping outside your comfort zone.
The more I was tempted to avoid a situation, the more angst ridden I became. But the moment I decided to do something about it, my fears – and stress level – started to recede.
To my surprise, I found I could handle things that I previously thought were impossible, and each time I did so, my confidence and self-esteem went up a notch.
Then, Hardship And Tragedy
In 2008, my stress management skills were put to the ultimate test.
My parents were involved in a head-on collision when they were hit by a car; a car that was driving on the wrong side of the road. My parents were both hospitalized.
Although they came through the crash, their health started to deteriorate. Over the next five years, they both experienced distressing illnesses (before passing away, a few years later.)
By then I was running my own market research business. I stopped working in order to support them.
It was the most stressful situation I have ever dealt with. It was heart breaking to see my parent’s slow deterioration and suffering. There were also many challenges dealing with health authorities and finding suitable care.
8 Words Helped Me Through
In moments of intense pressure in helping my parents, in dealing with the intense stress and uncertainty, I would focus on my breathing.
I would then say to myself “I am calm and relaxed in all situations.”
This helped ground me.
I have no doubt that had it not been for my stress management training 20 years earlier, the support of good friends, and those 8 simple words – I would not have come through those years unscathed.
During this time, I decided to write Restore Calm and Wellbeing, partly as a therapeutic exercise and partly to share with other people the 5-step method that has helped me deal with stress.
I now think about what I can do to improve the situation rather than concentrating on what I can’t do.
This new thinking has transformed my life.
I leave you with words of wisdom that summarize my experience; ones that also offer comfort, and hope:
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” ~ Lou Holtz
Kay Johnson is a researcher, publisher and the author of Restore Calm and Wellbeing, a proven 5-step method to help you find lasting relief from stress and worry. If you want to find out more, or, to buy the book, visit: http://www.restorecalmandwellbeing.com/