Today I was forced to examine the effects of stress on the body at very close range. I woke up with the mother of all migranes.
After a few weeks of hot weather, lack of sleep and several personal issues cropping up my body had had enough of it.
I will state early on here that being physically fit has really decreased my stress levels anyway, so I rarely suffer with very persistent stress, but when a baby (that isn't even yours) has been crying for 12 hours straight (I'm past caring how the parents feel) keeps you up all night it gets hard to sort out what is what!
In terms of dealing with stress and managing day to day stress (and for me low mood) physical exercise really is king but when it comes to a head (really, no pun intended there) I'm at a bit of a loss of what to do.
After the worst of the morning's symptoms had passed (and the baby across from us started crying....again) I decided that it was time to tackle the stress head on.
Stress is a physical response, originating from a fight or flight to stay alive. It's essential, but when it's chronic it causes issues.
Today I decided to do what our ancestors would have been doing in response to the physiological arousal. I decided that I would take myself off for a gentle jog/walk to try and de-stress.
I did not feel like one of our ancestors. It felt slow, muggy and hard to move, but after about 15 minutes I felt more awake. I went easy, trying to avoid bringing the worst migrane symptoms back and just enjoyed being outside, away from the constant crying of whatever neighbour's baby is making the noise.
It took about an hour of walking (sometimes very slowly) to complete the usual route.
I got back and made sure I was sufficiently hydrated and waited. Symptomless for an hour. Brilliant - testing complete!
Sometimes it's essential to get to the root of an issue. Sometimes it's more important to face what you have in front of you. Today I went with the short term solution of dealing with my body's physical response to stress.
Of course it's short lived. It took a warm bath and that baby to start crying again before the migrane returned (so I'm keeping this brief!) but what I have learnt today is that stress can be managed in the way it was intended to be managed - by moving.
Of course dealing with the root is next on my list....