We often ask this question of each other as well as the people who come to Quest. Sometimes, we get up in the morning, brush our hair, plaster on a smile and, while we look fine outwardly, under the surface our feet might be paddling madly, desperately trying to keep us afloat. What’s going on within us can sometimes be very different to how we appear to other people.
Many people don’t understand that when you’re going through a traumatic experience – such as the bushfires, the floods, COVID, the isolation that lockdowns create, the failure of a business or marriage, worries about our staff, loss of precious time together, and a myriad of other issues that have presented over the last 2 years – you don’t deal with the emotions when you’re actually going through the trauma. It is enough to simply ‘get through’ whatever the stress is and we literally ‘park’ the emotions to be dealt with at a later time.
The emotional reaction to the trauma generally happens weeks, months and sometimes years after the traumatic event. Perhaps you experience a sense of feeling flat, maybe you dissolve into tears easily, are more irritable with yourself and others. Perhaps you question who you are, what you’re doing on the planet and if you’re living the life you came here to live. And, if you’re not, living the life you want, then why not? And what are you going to do about it?
These are the fundamental questions that often come up for people when they’re confronted with one of the ‘Ds’ in life – a drama, a disappointment, a disaster, a diagnosis, a death, a disease, a divorce, a debt, a downpour, a drought. It might be second nature for us to isolate, or to blame other people, or to go into a pattern of filling our life up with so much busyness as we try to outrun the feeling that are hovering just below the surface. I know many people are feeling a range of difficult emotions right now after such a tumultuous couple of years.
One of the sessions in a Quest program is called Symptoms of Stress and What Helps. Participants fill a huge white board with all the ways they experience their symptoms of stress – they drink too much, shop too much, shout, swear, cry, overeat, don’t eat, sleep or don’t sleep, they blame others or themselves, they become more intolerant, impatient, clumsy or forgetful.
They’re then asked to identify what they do to help; what can they do to feel at peace – go for a walk, have a long bath, sit outside with a cup of tea, listen to music, yoga, prayer, ritual, do some gardening – and again, the list is endless.
Being in nature, singing, dancing, going for walks along the beach, being under the night sky and sport are things that we love to do because we’re in the present moment, doing the things that replenish us. We need to divide up our 168 hours each week – as we all get the same number of hours every week – so we ensure that we incorporate those things into our lives. When we look after ourselves first – before the kids, the partner or our workplace – then we’re able to live our life from a place of replenishment and we feel a sense of peace within us.
No one can do this for us. It is up to each of us to reclaim our 168 hours and ensure we replenish ourselves first, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Then we bring our well-replenished self to the challenge, the chaos, the disaster. Much better to bring our well-replenished self to our challenges than bringing our slightly depressed, overwhelmed, irritable self!
So, if you run into a friend, a colleague or an acquaintance and are about to tell them they look great, stop, take a breath and remember to ask if they feel as good as they look. If they’ve taken some time out for themselves, they might say a resounding yes!
Symptoms of Stress and What helps – Including Worksheet downloads
How Quest can help
Quest for Life can help you through our residential program, Healing Your Life. By learning strategies and techniques to manage your response to life’s events and ways to calm an anxious mind, you can regain control of your life and move towards peace of mind. We wish you well in managing your challenges whatever they may be at this time.