Today folks, we are dealing with the S word

No not sex surprisingly.

Hopefully a post on sex wouldn’t start so ominously, like sex is something to be “dealt with”.

I promise if we do broach that subject it will be a joy! Anyway, before you get too excited over there, I am talking about stress.

Modern day, over used, over felt STRESS.

Stress might be something that you deal with daily – in your job, as a parent, or outside of work with something you do as a hobby, or volunteering (though if a hobby is too stressful I would suggest getting another hobby!)

Stress is a completely natural body response to situations your body doesn’t like, your primitive instinctual ‘monkey’ kicks in, and it prepares to fight or flight – or freeze.

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My face when someone has finished the last of the red wine

But the problem lies in our society today, where stress is there every day… and as a result it becomes and feels – long term.

It is no longer the monkey making sure we sprint away from potential danger. It reacts when your to-do list is too long, or the presentation seems too huge. It reacts because you need to pick up Tarquin from playgroup and you promised you would bake a cake for the sale, AND you have to finish off some late night emails.

It bites and nips at us, or buzzes and flicks at us. Sometimes monthly, often weekly, and in bad cases daily.

It wears us down until the smallest things become unmanageable – and then you start to notice these feelings more.

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IBS or stomach ache for some – migraines and headaches for others. From excessive food and alcohol intake, through to starvation and over exercising – we all have ways to deal with the excess cortisol, (stress hormone) which your body produces when you are stressed.

For me it’s sometimes a shortness of breath, often a tingly chest, but once in a while, I get an impending sense of doom (casual) that I can only get rid of with a glass of wine or really good nights sleep (and even there it can still be waiting the next day, the bastard).

Luckily the latter comes less. But when it comes – it’s hard to shake off. So what the JEFF do you do?

ANALOGY TIME!

So the way I look at it, is that I always think that everyone has loads of plates that we’re trying to spin constantly. Like a mad circus. And for so long they’re there – just spinning away casually. Spin spin spin. Ms. Spinny McSpinningson.

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Well not casually.

Sorry no, through careful management, control, planning and execution you keep those god dam plates spinning.

The plates could each represent – “job” “kids” “money”

Or it could be more abstract like – “keeping people happy”, “not letting people down” ,

Or maybe more granular like – “not staying late at work” but also “making sure I finish tasks before I leave”

Or perhaps more pressure like – “eating well” or “having time for my partner”

Or… probably… all of the above.

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You were like “Haha, yeah Luce you’re right. Those are a small amount of my plates.” That’s not even scratching the SURFACE of the amount of porcelain required to represent MY life!

But do you see how many plates are spinning already?

Do you see how we are just setting ourselves up for failure?

If this doesn’t feel familiar, then perhaps you have your plates sorted, You know how many you can deal with and which ones are important. AMAZING NEWS! Keep doing what you’re doing. But just in case it gets too much one day, then have a wee read.

And so, for the rest of us MAD plate spinners here are some thoughts…

Firstly

Remember: NO ONE IS FUCKING SUPERHUMAN.

Unless you’ve suddenly grown Octopus legs, you’ve nicked Bernard’s watch (00’s reference) AND you’ve developed the ability to be in two places at once – you HAVE TO prioritise.

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Secondly

Some things (and people) are more important than others.

I hate to say it, but if you order your plates, and the least important you let smash to smithereens – then you’ll realise – maybe it wasn’t such an important plate? And with a few plates gone, you can then crack on with the rest of them like the Greek Dancer/Clown that you are.

Thirdly

Is it REALLY WORTH having so many plates? I would say from personal experience AND from speaking to close friends… perhaps NO!

I get it though. ADMITTING to yourself and others that – you CANNOT take on so many is HARD.

You’re frustrated because you think “but in 2013 I could keep all of those plates spinning, whilst hanging upside down with a broken arm, but now I even half of them seem daunting.”

Yeah that’s because you in 2013, is still you now. But it was YOU on your way to YOU now. You are who you are because of your experiences. They shape you. So when you were dealing with stuff, you were actually on the way to now, where you cannot deal with it.

Does that make sense? No? Okay…

I hear ya my friend. Let me tell you a story, I was working a full on PR job in London, living the full-on social life that goes with it, trying to fit in my partner, new friends, home friends, family… oh and I was working a second job every other week… 16 hour weekends of around 14 massages, on top of 60+ hour week I had already done… for FOUR YEARS! I had a mentally draining stressful day-job, and a mentally draining (they don’t call you a massage THERAPIST for nothing) physical job on top.

Gah it makes me shudder even now… and I am happy I let that out.

MADNESS!

You can only cope with so much for so long. Something has to give.

Mine was my second job. I meannnnnnnn. Come on. It was ridiculous. But I loved my massage, I loved my clients, I loved my boss, and my salon – Beautique Worcester.

Oh did I mention getting up at 4.30am every Saturday to get on the 5.20am train to get to work in time? Oh and training for a marathon – literally running a half marathon before work on a Sunday… travelling the 3-4 hours back, to get into bed and head straight into work.

I am not saying this to show off. Or to get sympathy.

None of the above.

I am saying it because, it’s good to admit it was too much because it helps me now tell my body and brain that I can deal with stuff now (I have smashed worse), and because perhaps you could resonate (I know a few in particular) because you have your own version of what essentially is REDICULOUSLY TOO MUCH ON!

I have seen friends crumble. And know others that are dealing with too much – but still trying to keep all those plates spinning. The collective feeling from us all is… GUILT.

And yeah I felt guilt when I gave it up  – I had to sweep up the smashed plate, hand it to my amazing boss and admit it was finally too much.

But it gave way to this whole new thing called FREE TIME!!!!! (Ish) Which I immediately filled with friends I hadn’t seen for ages, this blog, a new exercise regime… hang on..

I’ve replaced a plate with even more new plates.

I WAS TURNING INTO A STEREOTYPE OF A GREEK DINNER HERE.

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I bet this rings true with all of you.

SO! How about we DON’T fill the gaps with more plates. How about we make a list. How about we decide that you and I can only deal and want to deal with say.. EIGHT GREAT PLATES. (I could see this on a placard for some reason, with people shouting it out like Obama’s ‘Four More Years’, try it in your head – or out loud if you want to feel mental ‘Eight Great Plates’).

Make a stance that says – all the rest of the China and cutlery (or ‘cuplary’ as my gorgeous bf thought it was, including plates and cups into proceedings – too cute – it makes sense though to his credit) can just JEFF OFF.

Without so many, you can then spend time on your chosen plates – paint them, love them, spin them with joy and care, knowing you would never let them fall. You could make a cup of tea, smell the roses and those plates would keep on spinning.

BE SELFISH. CARE LESS.

If you’re already caring 100% for everyone else, then you’ve got 0% caring for YOURSELF.

So bring back say… 10%? Try more than that.

With less plates you can run yourself a bath, shut that door and tell everyone to f*ck off. Or whatever YOU NEED to be happy. (See my post on distraction lists here).

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I know on the flip side, a big problem is when you have watched those plates smash, you know that it is now a possibility, and it becomes a fear and you feel weak.

Let me tell you. Not weak, but selfish people have 1 or 2 plates. BECAUSE those plates are PURELY based on SELF. They’re so wrapped up in their own self and their own drama, they only NEED to focus on that. So it becomes easier. Those who GIVE, never leave enough for themselves.

What we ALL NEED is a happy balance. Eight plates.

If you have eight and its still not working, you need to step back and check that what you have spinning is what you want as your life.

You’ll know once the balance is right, because the plates will almost spin themselves.

And imagine how beautiful that would be.

 

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