Stress is going to kill us all

Posted: 20 May, 2016

By: Annemarie Lombard

Section: Corporate


I met with a client last week. I was sitting in front of this beautiful, successful, young business woman. She runs a tight operation for a large corporate team and escalated their profit margins significantly. She is creative and innovative and very much in touch with what goes on. She asks questions and challenges her team consistently. She asked me to do a proposal for a quick and practical stress management process for her staff.

Through the success and commitment to her job I sense her urgency and a separate cry for help. She has a gorgeous young son who is suffering from a range of learning and developmental problems, she is worried and anxious for his current wellbeing and future. She supports him, encourages him and emotionally lifts him up to the next level consistently. She has done everything in her power and more to help him. My therapist hat was put on immediately – a default zone I so easily slip into as I worked with children with learning problems for many years (in my previous life). I pointed her in certain directions for professional help for her son but then refocused my energy on her as a person.

There is such turmoil and pressure of having to be the best in so many places and I asked – what about you? How do you cope? She says she does but in my heart I know that she is on the edge and frayed at the edges. Stress, commitment and pressure are rife in her life. She works nights, weekends; she always works; between caring for her family and children. She admits to being impatient and screaming at times…boy can I associate with that…as working mothers (mwah myself) we have to revert to being somewhat animalistic in order to survive and just keep on going.

How can I let this beautiful woman see herself from my shoes? That it would be virtually impossible to maintain her current pace and levels without taking time out and just do something for herself?! I find in general that we have become so absolutely disengaged from ourselves, our worlds and our needs. We (I count myself in) are on this rollercoaster ride of living, working and being but have we lost the core sense of being??? I went into rescue/strategy mode and suggested she takes a daily 10 minute pause – remove herself (anywhere quiet and alone) and just “be”, breathe and relax for 10 minutes.

Only 10 minutes out of a day cannot be too much to ask, I believe, which can be the definitive factor for us to continue successfully? And then stop working during weekends….. I did that years ago and only in absolute necessity would put my computer on during weekends……she doesn’t. She keeps on working. I am writing this to her, to myself (I am guilty too, apart from weekend working) and to so many people out there that I see on a daily basis being in this exact position. Stop and see where we are at. Just do that first. It is acknowledging the space that we are in. If the above is true for you, just be mindful that it is unhealthy and not sustainable. We have to balance these crazy lifestyles with the easy, good, quiet, joyful things in life as well.

Stress will kill us all.  The World Health Organisation states stress as the biggest killer of the 21st century. Refuse to be part of this statistic. Live life sensationally….

PS. I checked…she is not taking those precious 10 minutes, but I promise to keep on trying….

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