Try to imagine an enemy you cannot see, who infiltrates your life and has a profound impact on almost every part of you. An enemy who will make you feel a whole swathe of emotions you are not prepared for and even make you physically unwell, literally creating diseases and conditions within you. This is stress, the unseen killer.
It is not uncommon to hear the term 'Stress is the biggest cause of...', but what is less common is people actually taking the statement seriously. It is easy to dismiss the idea of stress having a long term detrimental effect on us because we are often so busy living in the here and now. Even once the signs of stress are starting to show we attribute them to other things and often ignore that silent and persistent issue in the background that is gnawing away at us.
Over the last five years I have become more and more aware that stress is in fact a part of my life and has been for longer than I have appreciated. I have also become aware that it is slowly killing me as I develop condition after condition that are all starting to look stress related. Last year I had a pituitary tumour removed that has left me deficient in the cortisol hormone, otherwise known as the stress hormone. This essentially means my body struggles even more to deal with stressful situations, be that emotional stress or physical stress. A common cold seems to floor me for two to three months.
I need to make some changes. I need to actively promote the activities and practices that help me combat stress, to identify the things that actually make me happy and quite simply, do them more. I say simply and yet we often trip ourselves up and fall into old patterns of behaviour that are counter-intuitive to our goals. This is where other people come in.
A support network is a term used a lot in mental health to identify a group of people that help a person maintain a reasonable amount of autonomy over their life so as to allow them to function within society. It is a term that needs to be used more for pretty much everyone. We all need a support network, we all need those people out there who we can rely on to tell us when we are slipping into bad habits, to encourage us and for us in turn to also encourage.
This is something I know I am hugely lacking in.
I am a very socially isolated person, often by choice. I have long been a misanthrope and have been on the receiving end of a lot of emotional abuse in the past. I wont deny that I have been left very distrusting of people and so learnt from a very early age to take solace in my own mind.
This has to change.
I am just randomly putting this on the internet because to be frank, I wouldn't know where else to put it. How do you change a literal habit of a lifetime? How do you even begin to engage in something you just never do? Who do you even do that with?