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Posted on 05/11/2014 by Jessica Carmody |

Jessica blogs about her experience of stress and how she has found ways of coping.

Click here for Welsh translation

I’m writing a blog about stress and it is stressing me out. What if people don’t like it? What if I can’t fit my writing within the word count etc? As you can already tell, I am someone who finds it easy to create stress or fall foul of it in all situations.

I now realise that stress has always been a part of my life, even as a child.

I care deeply about people – I always have – and also worry desperately what they think of me. A top notch people pleaser, if someone else was happy because of something that I’d done, I was relieved of stress. For a short while at least.

I put enormous pressure on myself to succeed at university and ended up with glandular fever and depression in my second year, so stressed by the pressures that I had to take a year out. I did graduate finally, but stress was a huge part of my daily life there.

That was ten years ago. Since then, I have chosen jobs and a career pathway which have, by coincidence, been extremely challenging and stressful. For me, each day started before I woke. I dreamed about the day ahead: in my first job as a teacher, I dreamed I was planning a lesson for year eight.

How would I cope with the screaming and special educational needs whilst trying to teach Romeo and Juliet?

Now, as a business advisor, I regularly have dreams about spreadsheets: how to collate the data to convey the information I’m working on effectively? How I should present myself in order to be accepted as a member of the team?  

At one previous employer, I suffered such severe stress from the lack of support I received from my manager that I decided to leave.

The aftermath was a serious episode of stress-related depression, which was debilitating, distressing and led me to address the stress that has been the common thread through my life.

I’m now becoming more honest about stress at work and being braver in my self-belief that I am not necessarily at fault for this situation. This is tough because we exist in uncertain times, with few jobs for people at any level.

I worry being honest about my stress puts my career progression at risk.

However, I’m now getting better at telling myself that my health is more important. Also, why would I want to continue working in a way that makes me more stressed than ever because of the pressures I put on myself to achieve what may be impossible? I take breaks from work every hour if I can, just for a few minutes.

I take my lunch and get out of the office and I feel that I have a right to do this because it makes me more productive.

I have learned about mindfulness  (a practice of focusing on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting my feelings, thoughts and sensations at a given time). I was diabolically bad at this at first. I just don’t sit still and I definitely don’t focus on one thing at a time. There is too much to be done!

However, I now realise that I need to find a way of coping with the hundreds of thoughts that enter my head and find at least a few minutes every day to put them aside and try to relax. Headspace, incidentally, is a great app for this – I’ve even used it on crowded commuter trains and managed to stay calm on the way to work, so it really is effective!

Finally and simply, I have begun the daily practice of deep breathing.

I take four slow breaths in and then try to exhale over 6-8 counts, using my diaphragm to breathe deeply into my body and focus my mind on this exercise. As stress turned to acute anxiety  this year, the deep breathing has been a tremendous help to shift my focus away from the root of the anxiety and has gone at least some way, every time, to calming me down and enabling me to carry on through the day.

Stress is a really difficult issue, especially in the busy, competitive world that we live in. But by being more honest with myself about the stress in my life, I now feel calmer, more in control at work and in my life. And this makes me more productive and happier too!

 

Read our advice and information on managing stress in everyday life and managing stress at work.

Check out our tips and exercises for relaxation.

 

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Mae Jessica yn blogio am ei phrofiad o straen a sut mae hi wedi dod o hyd i ffyrdd o ymdopi.

Rwy’n ysgrifennu blog ynglŷn â straen ac mae’n codi straen arnaf i. Beth os nad yw pobl yn ei hoffi? Beth os nad ydw i’n gallu cadw at y terfyn geiriau ac ati? Fel sydd eisoes yn amlwg, rwy’n rhywun sy’n ei weld yn ddigon hawdd creu straen neu ddioddef ohono ym mhob achlysur.

Rwy bellach yn sylweddoli bod straen bob amser wedi bod yn rhan o fy mywyd, hyd yn oed yn blentyn.

Rwy’n poeni’n fawr am bobl - rwy’ bob amser wedi gwneud - a hefyd yn poeni’n arw am yr hyn maen nhw’n feddwl amdanaf i. Rwy’n hoff iawn o blesio pobl - os byddai rhywun arall yn hapus o ganlyniad i rywbeth roeddwn i wedi’i wneud, roedd y straen yn mynd. Am foment, o leiaf.

Rhoddais bwysau mawr ar fy hun i lwyddo yn y brifysgol a dioddefais i o dwymyn y chwarennau (glandular fever) ac iselder yn fy ail flwyddyn. Roeddwn i o dan gymaint o straen fel y bu’n rhaid i fi gymryd blwyddyn allan. Graddiais yn y diwedd, ond roedd straen yn rhan anferth o fy mywyd yno.

Roedd hyn ddeng mlynedd yn ôl. Ers hynny, rydw i wedi dewis swyddi a llwybr gyrfa sydd, o gyd-ddigwyddiad, wedi bod yn ofnadwy o heriol ac yn llawn straen. I fi, roedd pob dydd yn dechrau cyn i fi godi. Roeddwn yn breuddwydio am y diwrnod o fy mlaen - yn fy swydd gyntaf fel athrawes, roeddwn i’n breuddwydio fy mod yn cynllunio gwers ar gyfer blwyddyn wyth.

Sut fydden i’n ymdopi gyda’r gweiddi a’r anghenion addysgol arbennig wrth geisio addysgu Romeo a Juliet?

Nawr, fel ymgynghorydd busnes, rwy’n cael breuddwydion am daenlenni yn aml - sut mae casglu’r data i gyfleu’r wybodaeth rwyf yn gweithio arni yn effeithiol? Sut y dylwn i gyflwyno fy hun er mwyn cael fy nerbyn fel aelod o’r tîm?

Mewn un gweithle yn y gorffennol, dioddefais o straen difrifol o achos y diffyg cefnogaeth gan fy rheolwr, fel y penderfynais adael.

O ganlyniad, dioddefais gyfnod o iselder yn gysylltiedig â straen, oedd yn fy ngwanhau ac wedi fy arwain i wneud rhywbeth am y straen sydd wedi bod yn ffactor mor amlwg o fy mywyd.

Rwy’ bellach yn dod yn fwy onest am straen yn y gwaith ac rwy’n fwy dewr i fynegi nad fi sydd o reidrwydd ar fai am y sefyllfa hon. Mae hyn yn anodd gan ein bod hi’n adeg ansefydlog, gydag ychydig o swyddi ar gael i bobl ar unrhyw lefel.

Rwy’n poeni bod siarad yn onest am fy straen yn gallu niweidio fy ngyrfa.

Fodd bynnag, rwy’ bellach yn dod yn well ar argyhoeddi fy hun bod fy iechyd yn bwysicach. Yn ogystal â hyn, pam fyddwn i eisiau parhau i weithio mewn ffordd sy’n fy rhoi o dan fwy o straen nag erioed o’r blaen, oherwydd y pwysau rwy’n eu rhoi ar fy hun i gyflawni’r amhosibl? Rwy’n cymryd saib o fy ngwaith bob awr os gallaf, hyd yn oed am ychydig funudau.

Rwy’n cymryd fy nghinio ac yn mynd allan o’r swyddfa. Rwy’n teimlo bod gen i hawl i wneud hyn gan ei fod yn fy ngwneud yn fwy cynhyrchiol.

Rydw i wedi dysgu am feddylgarwch, neu ‘mindfulness’ (arfer o ganolbwyntio ar y foment yn y presennol, wrth gydnabod a derbyn teimladau a meddyliau ar adeg arbennig). Roeddwn i’n ofnadwy ar wneud hwn ar y dechrau. Dydw i ddim yn gallu eistedd yn llonydd a dydw i’n sicr ddim yn ffocysu ar un peth yn unig. Mae gormod i’w wneud!

Fodd bynnag, rwy’ bellach yn sylweddoli bod rhaid i fi ddod o hyd i ffordd o ymdopi â’r cannoedd o feddyliau sy’n codi yn fy mhen a dod o hyd i ychydig funudau o leiaf bob dydd i’w gosod i’r naill ochr a cheisio ymlacio. Mae Headspace yn digwydd bod yn ap arbennig o dda ar gyfer hyn - rydw i hyd yn oed wedi ei ddefnyddio ar drên prysur ar y ffordd i’r gwaith ac wedi gallu ymlacio, felly mae wir yn effeithiol.

Yn olaf, ac yn syml, rydw i wedi dechrau ymarfer anadlu’n ddwfn bob dydd.

Rwy’n anadlu i mewn bedair gwaith ac yn ceisio anadlu allan 6-8 gwaith, gan ddefnyddio fy llengig (diaffram) i anadlu’n ddwfn mewn i fy nghorff a chanolbwyntio fy meddwl ar yr ymarfer hon. Wrth i straen droi’n orbryder eleni, mae’r anadlu dwfn wedi bod o help aruthrol i symud y ffocws oddi wrth wraidd y gorbryder ac mae wedi cynorthwyo bob amser i fy ymlacio a fy ngalluogi i barhau â fy niwrnod.

Mae straen yn fater anodd tu hwnt, yn enwedig yn y byd prysur a chystadleuol rydym yn byw ynddo. Ond trwy fod yn fwy onest gyda fy hun am y straen yn fy mywyd, rwyf bellach yn teimlo’n fwy llonydd, mewn rheolaeth yn fy ngwaith ac yn fy mywyd. Ac mae hyn yn fy ngwneud yn fwy cynhyrchiol ac yn hapusach hefyd!

 

Categories: Stress

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Jessica Carmody

Jessica works in the City and is an award winning campaigner for Mind raising awareness of mental health.

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