When I was young, I was the typical “performance animal”.
I loved the challenge, I loved the adrenalin and if I had a competition, a test or an audition, you’d be sure I’d deliver, no matter what…
I still remember “that feeling” of becoming one with my body. That feeling of the excitement and nerves kicking in, making my tummy squeeze; but not in a bad way, actually more in an unbeatable and addictive kind of way.
My mind got stuck on one thought. I had to do as best as I could. I had to impress. I had to win. And, as a matter of facts, I believed I could and I did…
When, at a later point in my life, performance nerves became my worst enemy, I remember looking back at these days thinking; “beata giovinezza” or “blessed youth”.
I believed that my outrageous courage during challenges when I was younger, was purely due to not being mature enough to understand the “pressure of things… I now believe I was very wrong…
A few years from my worst days, I am determined to find out what actually happened to me…to be better prepared for the future and in order to maybe help some others.
So, what is actually stress?
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body's defences kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the "stress response".
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress and adrenaline can save your life—giving you extra strength to, for example defend yourself or make you slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.
Stress can also help you rise to meet challenges. It’s what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration or drives you to study for an exam when you'd rather be watching TV or scrolling on Instagram…
When you look at it from “this side” we understand that stress is something that we actually can’t/shouldn’t live without.
But what happens when stress becomes a chronic state in life?
Beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.
To me? It made me become the worst version of myself… both the inside and the outside.
I can promise you that my closest did not have the time of their life when they were with me back than…
I was angry. Annoying. Boring. Moodie. Constantly aggressive and pissed off! The funny thing is that I knew they had nothing to do with my troubled mind, but I couldn’t help it. I was feeling miserable and they had to deal with it…
I still have no idea how they coped with me, to be honest…. The only thing that I can think of is that it must have been deep love!! (Sorry Baby, sorry Mamy)
On the outside my body was rebelling.
My hair thinned. My skin cracked. My nails broke. My body filled up with water. My period stopped and my thyroid totally gave up on me…
In other words… I got sick!!
And all of this for what??
Because I wasn’t getting what I thought I deserved at work? Because of my insecurities? Because I had to deal with people that I didn’t like? Because I had to do things that I didn’t want to do? Because I lived in a country that I didn’t quite get?
Seriously??????? What the hell was I thinking? Weak, spoiled, stupid me!
But then again… I might have considered myself stupid, but I am sure there is a “little” more to it, when so many other people are affected by the same “stress syndrome”??
Today’s society requests a lot. It’s always about “Constructed Perfection” and rarely about what’s good for you or me.
We live a life through social media, where everything looks shining and perfect.
Where women can look like the best mums, on top of their career, still with time to walk the dogs, look like models, make dinner and love to their husband, and of course, be cool and social at the same time!
We compare ourselves too much.
We set goals, we reach them and we are already into the next one without taking time to appreciate and be proud.
From when we were young, teachers, bosses and coaches always pointed out what we could have done better or what wasn’t good enough. But then you’d hear comments like “What happened now? Last time you were soo much better!!” or “look at her/him… they know how to do it!!”.
There’s no interest of knowing people’s stories or understand their characters. All you need to do is to be best and deliver, ALWAYS!!
And if you ask me.. that’s how it ALL begins.
The worst thing is when you have been under chronic stress for a long time, it isn’t something that just disappears easily. You can learn to control it, breathe through it and avoid it from taking you over, but the truth is that it won’t leave you easily.
I am not saying this to scare you, but more to share my (and others’) experiences.. in simple words, if this happened to you too…you’re not alone!!
In fact, even after years of daily yoga practice, meditation and pranayama (special breathing technique), stress/anxiety attacks still turn my world upside down when less expected.
Even now, when I feel confident and happy in what I do and who I am, I still carry a huge weight on my shoulders, or better a bad shadow that comes, scares me and takes my smile away.
As a Mummy to be now, I see myself stressing already for little things, taking away the enjoyment and magic of this moment.
When my Husby sees me thoughtful, he likes to “bully” me a little by asking if I am finding something else to stress about…
And you know what? He is so right.
I make my life so much more complicated than it is.
I say that I avoid dramas but what actually happens is that I run after them like candybars.
I also believe that if I’ll be stressed as a mother, my baby girl will not grow up any different.
We then create a circle of life which is so OFF.
I practice yoga to find balance and peace within myself.
But if the yoga stops when you leave the mat, that isn’t yoga anymore. It’s just another way to sweat out and workout the body.
For now, the practice helped me gain awareness, it brought my happiness back and helps me balance the ups and downs.
But there’s a long way to go.
So…next time the cliché “keep (…) close, but your enemies closer” appears, I’ll remember how close the worst enemy is…