Last Wednesday was National Stress Awareness Day, a little ironic since it coincided with one of the most stressful weeks that I’ve had for a long time. I’m not someone who generally suffers with stress very much at all. I work well under pressure, in fact I work best under a reasonable amount of pressure – I thrive on being busy, multitasking and having just a *little* bit too much to do. But last week I was very much aware of feeling stressed.
Last weekend my husband had surgery on his shoulder and is now in a sling, unable to use one arm. The day of the surgery itself was quite stressful for a number of reasons – waiting 8 hours between arriving at the hospital and them taking him into theater, the operation taking twice as long as expected, seeing how much pain he was in when he came back from recovery and not getting home until 9:30pm having left the house at 6:30am being some of them. I have never been happier for us to be home than I was last Saturday night.
Thankfully I’d taken the day off on Monday, by which time my husband had clearly improved. But he was still a bit spaced out by the after effects of the anesthetic and from the pain killers that he’d been given. I really didn’t want to leave him when I went back to work on Tuesday but he assured me that he was going to be OK, so back to work I went.
And what a week at work it’s been – the busiest and most tense week that I’ve experienced in a while. Far too much to do and lots of people needing a bit of my time. Time that I didn’t have, but needed to give. I’d arrive in the morning with a list of things to get done which had completely gone out of the window by 10am as they’d been superseded by a different list of things which were more important. The original tasks hadn’t gone away, oh no I still needed to do those too, but just not now – some other time – whenever that was going to be.
Normally a week I’d just about cope with, but alongside being concerned about my husband it just all felt a bit too much. There were a couple of times when I nearly snapped and had a go at someone – thankfully I managed to stop myself, but it wasn’t a comfortable place for the usually calm and composed me at all.
Despite the stress and frankly feeling a bit out of control I have kept up with a full schedule of training. Don’t get me wrong there were mornings when I did not want to get out of bed at 6am to workout – I would much rather have had a bit more sleep. And on Tuesday when it was time to leave work for my PT session I could easily have cancelled as I needed the extra time in the office. But I know very well that if I had de-prioritised my workouts, the week would have been even worse than it was.
Exercise without a doubt helps me deal with the stresses and strains of life. It’s difficult to worry about work, or frankly anything other than when the buzzer will sound when you’re fully immersed in a high intensity interval session.
It’s hard to worry about how much you have to get done when you are concentrating with all your will on staying in a side plank. I know I look super smiley in this photo – it’s a ruse I use to convince myself I’m finding it easy!
When my PT challenged me to complete 10 sets of 6 reps of 25kg squats and 25kg shoulder presses in less than 12 minutes it gave me something to focus on, other than whether my husband had managed to cook his tea without burning himself.
And today I was able to take out any residual frustration while slamming a gym ball into the floor. (I may or may not have been imagining someone at work while doing this move, but it sure felt good – thanks for the class and the video @BodyByCB).
Thankfully it’s not something I have suffered with, but I know that people with mental health issues are encouraged to exercise and I can absolutely understand why that would be. As well as some ‘time out’ where you can shut up your mind while you focus on what your body is doing you of course get that lovely rush of feel good endorphin afterward.
This week more than ever exercise has been my stress relief. I dread to think how I would have coped without it!