I’m Feeling Stressed…

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I hate feeling stressed.  It’s an awful feeling and it makes me want to do things I know I shouldn’t – like go off my diet or start smoking again. Neither of which I want to do.

But somethings lately have just been bugging me, and I wish I could exorcise these feelings and get back to working towards a more positive and healthy ‘me’.

Part of all this could be the ‘post-holiday blues’.. since I returned from Gran Canaria a few weeks ago, I’ve been feeling quite ‘blah’ and the typically grey UK weather hasn’t helped any either.

I swear my tan faded the moment I stepped off the plane.  LOL

Not to mention my diet seems to have stalled a bit since I returned.  I seem to eat fairly healthy throughout the day, but once I get home it’s like I have no will power.. and that’s with me rarely buying anything snack-like.

But it’s not like I don’t already have a weekend to Madrid planned in a couple week’s time.  Plus I’m considering going to Naples and Pompeii in early July as a late birthday trip… so I don’t think it’s that.

Perhaps it’s the impending visit from my landlord next weekend and that he’s staying at the flat for about a month – he lives in Belgium but occasionally has to come to London for work so he’s kept a bedroom for himself.

He’s not a bad guy but I don’t feel completely relaxed or comfortable having people over when he’s there.  He knows I’m gay and has said he doesn’t care if I have someone over, but it’s a comfort thing.

But to be honest, him visiting is more of an inconvenience than anything.. and just means I need to make sure I’m wearing clothes when I leave my bedroom.  LOL

Ok… Let’s just face the elephant in the room and address the true source of my current stress load – it’s work.  It was slightly stressful before my holidays and it’s just gotten worse since.

Basically, it was decided last year to bring in a new computer system for our division, and my colleague was jointly tasked with assisting the developers to build it so it was ‘fit for purpose’.  I wasn’t assigned the task at the time as I was expected to be on holidays during the original launch period (end of June 2016).

But since she’s not a technical person and isn’t that good with implementing processes, things kind of went to shit.  Especially as she spent most of her time flirting with the programmer when he’d visit our offices to work on the program together.

Anyway, things kept getting pushed farther and farther back until finally it was realised that what had been build was absolute crap, and it had to start almost from scratch again… so the project was reassigned to someone at the other office and she gotten things done.

And then suddenly things for our part of the division got dropped into my lap a few months back, and I had to get our part up and running via systems testing.  Despite not knowing anything about the program really.

So there I was just before my holidays having to teach myself a program that wasn’t working completely, and go back and forth with the developers to try to mold how things work somewhat.

But as with anything in life, I wasn’t even asked if I wanted to do this.  I was just expected to ‘fix it’ as I’m seen as the ‘computer guy’.  And they’ve now decided that I’ll be our new system’s ‘expert’, meaning any problems people have they’ll come to me for it instead of the developers.

Oh joy… lucky me.

Meanwhile, here we are several weeks after the program launched and my department is the only one who can’t even use it because the developers haven’t loaded our correct rates yet.  The rest of the department is fine for the most part, and they can get things done.  But we can’t.

Like I said to one of our supervisors this morning, it’s like our little department is the forgotten step-child.  And no matter how much I chase things up, it’s like I’m talking to a brick wall.

*Sigh*.. As much as I could say I don’t feel appreciated in my current job, I know that’s not completely correct.  I do get messages of thanks or notes of appreciation from the bosses, but it’s almost to the point where it’s expected that I’ll just get things done.  And quickly and efficiently as well.

I’ve been told that I’m getting another (very small) raise – the 2nd in the last 6 months or so – which is great, but I’ll believe it when I have the signed paperwork in front of me.

I do wonder why I’m still with this company after almost 3 years.  I’m pretty sure I could potentially get more money at other companies, but yet I haven’t been looking around at all.

It’s partly because this office is so convenient to where I’m living (I can literally walk home in just under 45 minutes), but also because I know if I leave this job right now I’ll have to pay them money..

They’re paying for my PRINCE2 certification, and part of the agreement is if I left within 2 years of starting the course then I’ll have to pay back a certain percentage of the costs (standard for most companies these days..).

But is that worth sticking around this place for another 2 years?  Of continuing to feeling used and pushed to do more and more?

I suppose only time will tell.. until then, I need to get studying.  The certification isn’t going to complete itself.

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Be Happy – How to Stress Less

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Life can be stressful and chaotic, but generally only if you allow it to be.  Sometimes you need to just slow down and take things one at a time.

They say that people’s lives can become happier once they’ve decided to be happy.  That may be simplistic, but perhaps it’s a matter of facing life with a more positive outlook.

Give yourself a clear direction

All too often, life can get muddled and a lack of direction can cause stress in our lives.  Who hasn’t complained there wasn’t enough time in a day or how the week has flown by.  Your week was the same length as anyone else’s, but the difference is how focused you’ve been during it.

We all have things we’d like to achieve, but sadly most don’t take the time to set a clear plan to reach that target.  It’s time to get focused, clear your conscious, and really understand what you want to achieve and why.  Otherwise, you’ll continue to flounder and not get anywhere.

Focus your productivity

If-you-do-not-change-directionIt’s all too easy to get bogged down in the minute, unimportant things that clutter our ‘to-do’ lists, which means we just end up leaving the important stuff to the end.

This will leave you constantly feeling like you’re not getting anywhere because the big items continually get moved to the next list.

Instead, focus on the big things first.  If something is truly important, urgent or difficult to complete, then prioritise it.  Because generally when you complete the big stuff, the smaller, less important things can sometimes fall to the wayside.

Perfection doesn’t exist

Everybody is way too obsessed with getting things in life absolutely perfect all the time, which in turn may hinder the progress you’re trying to make.  And way too many of us focus on the destination or end result without enjoying the journey along the way.

When working towards a goal or target, there’s never a guarantee of progression or even success at achieving a specific outcome.  If life was truly set out as a check-list of how to get ahead in life, we’d all be super successful and presumably ‘happy’.

But the reality of it is that there are no rules on how to succeed or to be happy, and no two people’s ideal of ‘perfect’ will be exactly the same.  Just enjoy the journey itself, and allow yourself to learn from the progress as it happens.

Forgive and forget

NEGATIVEWe all do it – continually replay the day’s events or some unpleasant conversation over and over in our heads to analyse each detail.  But other than dealing with immediate issues, what’s the point in reinforcing the negative aspects of your day, letting them to lay heavy on your heart.

It may sound easier than it is, but you’ve just to just let it go.  All of it – the regrets, the snubs, the rude or disparaging remarks, the distractions – and allow yourself to end each day cleansed of the negativity.

And this includes your own untrue or negative thoughts towards yourself.  It’s all the same in the end.  When you change your thoughts, you change your life.

Same goes for stress

Life is a challenge, and it can get really hard along the journey.  And that’s okay, as it’s the stresses we face daily that build us up and make us stronger to better face the even harder challenges up ahead.

The point is not to let the stress take you over and ruin your day.  Which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Think about stress as if you’ve reached a room with 2 exits – one that relives the stress of the day, and the other where you move on with your life.  Why wouldn’t you take the second door?

One step at a time

Some say one of the steps to happiness is having a fit, healthy body, but is that just enforcing society’s ideals on how you should live your life and look?  We all know that a good workout is great for your peace of mind (as well as your body, obviously), and the endorphin release can help sharpen your mind’s focus.

CarrotBut is that it?  Is that the answer to all of our problems and the key to happiness?  Hardly, but it is important to take care of yourself – both inside and out, mentally and physically – and regular exercise of some sort can only be a positive thing.

Just don’t get so wrapped up in ‘being fit and healthy’ that you become oblivious to other factors that contribute to your happiness.

Treat yourself

It’s endearing to do something special for our loved ones, but when was the last time you did something special for yourself?  It doesn’t have to be anything big but something simple like taking a walk, doing something you truly enjoy, reading a book, making your favourite meal, and so forth.

All too often we spend our energies putting other people’s needs ahead of our own, almost to the point where we forget to take care of our own happiness.  It’s not necessarily about being selfish, but you do need to put your own needs first on occasion.

K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple…

Way too many people will over-book their lives to the point where they literally have zero wiggle room when things pop up.  They’ll organise their diaries to the point where they have to book time in with friends or loved ones weeks or months in advance.

There’s no spontaneity, no last minute plans, no spur of the moment day trips, and literally no room for yourself.

How is that really any fun?

Obviously you don’t want to go so far as to under-plan your life, but do allow yourself a bit of regular breathing space and time each week to focus on you.  It gives you more flexibility in your own life, and when those surprise invites pop up you might actually be able to accept them.

This post was influenced by – 9 Things Happy People Do to Stress Less.

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Stepping Up to Mental Wellbeing

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Everyone deals with stress, anxiety or depression in different ways, and there’s no true set rule on how to deal with any of them.  We’ve all read countless online self-help articles touting themselves as being the ultimate list of how to do this or that.. when in reality, most are just rehashes of the same things over and over again.

One thing does ring true though regardless of which articles you read – If you don’t at least give them a shot, then you’ll never know if they truly make you feel more positive about your life, or even help move you down the road to your own happiness.

Side note – Happiness isn’t necessarily a destination, but more of a state of being.  And everyone’s ideal of happiness is different, so find your own happiness. 🙂

What is mental wellbeing?

Per the below NHS site, mental wellbeing is defined as such:

“Feeling happy is a part of mental wellbeing. But it’s far from the whole. Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence are too.

“So is a feeling that you can do the things you want to do. And so are good relationships, which bring joy to you and those around you.

“Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult. But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual.”

Sarah Stewart-Brown, Professor of Public Health at the University of Warwick

Like anything in life, the more you put into something like your own well being, the more you’re likely to get out of it.  And if you’re waiting on someone else to ‘give’ you happiness, you’ll be waiting for your entire life.

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Steps to Mental Wellbeing

Below are a few suggestions we could all take to boost how we’re doing.  As previously mentioned, this isn’t an exhaustive list and some may work better for some people than others.

Connect with others

All too often when we’re feeling down or a bit blue, we’ll find ourselves pulling away from our loved ones.  Instead reach out to the people around you, be them family, friends, colleagues or neighbours.  Just be willing to make that step to open up the lines of communication.

Be active

This isn’t necessarily about going to the gym or starting some massive work out regime.  It’s more about just finding an activity that you enjoy and incorporate into you daily life – take a walk, go for a bike ride, go for a swim, and so forth.

Keep learning

Sometimes all you might need is to boost your own wellbeing is to engage your mind in something constructive.  It could be learning a new skill, taking a hobby class , getting that certification you’ve been dreaming about.  Or maybe just read that book gathering dust on your bedside table.

Volunteering your time

Being a volunteer in any capacity can not only help you feel like you’re contributing more to your community, but it’s a goldmine for networking.  But you don’t even have to go so far as to actually volunteer – sometimes the smallest thing, like smiling at a stranger or giving a kind word to something, can make the world a difference.

Be in the present

This could be called ‘mindfulness’, but it’s mostly about being aware of what is going around you at any given moment.  This can include the world around you, local/national/international politics, your thoughts or feelings, and most importantly, your own body.  However, don’t allow yourself to get so immersed in this that you block out other parts of life, as that’ll have an averse affect.

This post has been influenced by — Five steps to mental wellbeing – Stress, anxiety and depression – NHS choices

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Getting Snappy

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I’m finding more and more these days that it’s a struggle to keep myself out of the ‘dark place’.  To keep my spirits up and try to look at each new day as something exciting or interesting, even if all I’m doing is my usual daily routine.

And I think I was kind of succeeding with this over the past few weeks despite the lacklustre goings on in my life.  I’ve been doing my best to just enjoy my free time by watching my favourite television shows (Doctor Who marathon anyone?), relaxing on my sofa, and relishing the rare opportunities to spend time with mates.

Unfortunately this hasn’t been going so well for the past week or two, and I’m finding myself stressed out and desperately looking forward to some well-deserved time off work next week (I’m off to Manchester next weekend with my best mate P from Scotland).

I know a lot of this stress and anxiety I’m feeling is due to a few changes at work (something I don’t tend to write much about on here..), where we’ve finally gotten some new staff in to replace the ones that quit/were fired over the holidays.  Normally I enjoy the challenge of showing new people how things work and the processes that need to be followed, but this time I’m finding it too much.

For some reason, it feels like it’s all coming down on me to show the newbies the ropes, which results in a constant bombardment of questions that pulls me away from the work I need to get done.

468737-stressIt’s not so much the questions themselves, but how it’s the same ones over and over again, mostly from this one particular guy.  He’s picked up most of the system processes, but anything else he feels this need to reconfirm on a daily basis, despite us telling him to write things down.

And sometimes he comes out with the most ridiculous questions that either don’t make any sense at all or are just plain stupid.

Gawd, how I hate using that word about someone, especially when I think he’s actually just insecure.  I keep trying to get him to think for himself, but instead he’d rather re-ask the same questions just to make sure.. which then makes me snappy and frustrated to no end.  And once he’s completed the tasks he’s been ‘told’ to do, he’ll just sit there and chill while the rest of us are still working away until end of shift (and beyond some days) as if there wasn’t anything else to do.. and he doesn’t ask if there is.

The worst was this past Friday when I was alone with all 3 of the newbies (my boss had booked the day off.. damn her hahaha), and I couldn’t get anything done.

But when it took me close to 2 hours to do one simple task because I was constantly having to give them directions or tell them what needed to be done next (which they should know by now), I couldn’t help snapping at them.  And that’s not like me at work at all.

too much to do at workSome of the management have commented in the past how I’m always calm and cool regardless of what is going on or what needs to be done.  And this is exactly how I want to be at work.

Unfortunately the stress of the day got the better of me, and I was frazzled all day long.  Something a couple of my colleagues in the office noticed and kept (discretely) checking in on me to see if there was anything they could do to help..

But not any of the management, surprisingly enough.  Hmmm..

Anyway, luckily the supervisor is back to work on Monday, and we’ll have a busy couple of days to ensure we get ahead of the game before I have my time off from Thursday.

Though hopefully it isn’t as bad for her while I’m off until the following Wednesday.. but then again, can’t predict anything I suppose.

Guess I’ll have to write a second post about the stresses in my personal life.. Watch this space. 😉

On Borrowed Time

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A month ago, my current landlord advised me he was serving me notice as he’d decided he wants to live alone for awhile mainly due to some family issues and personal stress he’s been going through.

It sucked to hear it, but I understood.  Sometimes when you’re going through a rough patch, all you want to do is to simplify your life.

Though I’m not that sure how my living here complicated things for him, but whatever.  Not my problem..

Well, actually it is in a way.  I’m the one who needs to find a new place to live, and fast!!

Technically I was due to move out by YESTERDAY.. but because I haven’t found a new place to live as yet, he’s given me another week or two to sort things out.  I’d originally brought it up as I was viewing a place the next day where the move in date wasn’t until the middle of November.

But because of this, I now feel like I’m intruding on him and his life.  And that I’m starting to overstay my welcome..Like I’m becoming the flatmate who won’t leave.

Of course that could all just be in my head, as he said he had no issues with extending my move out date.  In fact when we talked about it last weekend, he said he’d meant to let me know there was no problem if I needed an extra week or so.

He’s been super flexible about it all.

The crap thing about it all is how few responses I’m getting to the messages I’m sending about rooms to rent.  I’ve been looking like crazy, especially over the past week or so, and have only seen a couple places – one that was absolutely lovely but way too outside my budget, and another that was ok but the landlord turned me down due to his ‘acute sense of smell’ (I’m a light smoker).

moving_4-resized-600It’s extremely stressful to be still looking to find somewhere suitable after a month’s time, and to know that I should already be moved or at least packing to move by now (I haven’t started packing yet since I have no clue where I’m going…).

The only offer I’ve had is from a friend of mine from my old softball group, who has offered to rent me a room really cheap.  She hadn’t been planning on renting it out until after the holidays, but is willing to make an exception for me.

It looks lovely from the pictures/videos she’s sent me and she’d probably be great to live with, even it was only short-term.  But the problem I’m having is that it’s even further south than I currently live.. Making getting home from a night out even harder than it is now, and the commute to work twice as long.

*Sigh*  I’m still thinking about the idea.  It would be great cause I could save a bunch of money, but is that worth it to have the extra transport issues.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see how things turn out.  I’ve got a couple more viewings tomorrow (Sunday), so maybe one of them will turn out.. or maybe I’ll just stop overthinking things and accept my friend’s offer.

Fingers crossed x

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The Health of Stress

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We all have stress in our lives, and we all tend to manage it differently to both good and bad results.  stressLike most people, when I’m feeling particularly stressed, it seems my overall health tends to decline regardless of how well I’m taking care of myself.  Which is most likely due to me not wanting to actually deal with the stress that I’m feeling at the time.

For instance, I’ve been feeling stressed lately about work because I’m not in a position I would like to be, and because of that, how I’m struggling somewhat financially.  This has caused me to suffer from stress headaches all week leading to insomnia, resulting in me missing a few days of work.. which in turn makes me stress about going back to work.

It’s a vicious circle that I’m desperate to break free from.

But what if the stress we’re feeling could actually be beneficial to our lives, as well as our health?  And not just beneficial to ourselves, but to those around us?

Apparently, it’s not stress that’s making us sicker, it’s stressing out about stress being stressful that’s actually the problem.

That’s the main message given by health psychologist Kelly McGoinigal in a talk she gave for Ted.com back in June 2013 on how to make stress our friend (clip is at bottom of page).

Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

It’s definitely a different way of looking on how we all deal with stress in our lives, as most of us (myself included) tend to shut down and agonize over how we’re going to get through this particular bad patch in our lives, instead of looking for a way through it.

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But it’s also about making sure when you’re feeling particularly stressed that you’re reaching out to those around you to talk about what’s making you feel stressed.  We’ve all heard the stories of people who’ve been super stressed out and because they haven’t wanted to ‘bother’ anyone else with their problems, they’ve gotten sick or had heart problems (ie: a heart attack).

By ensuring you are reaching out to others to discuss the problems you’re going through, it allows you to relieve a lot of that stress you’re feeling.  But as well, by reaching out and being there for someone who’s feeling stressed, it also allows you help reduce stress in your own lives.

stress_weightgainIt seems like such a simple concept when you think on it, but yet not a lot of us implement it into our own lives.

Instead we all talk about planning some holiday or taking some time off work to ‘unwind’, or even focusing so much on getting to the weekend so they can ‘de-stress’.  Basically, we’re all so busy looking for better ways to relax that we’re not focusing on relieving the stress itself.

As Ms McGonigal says in her talk, “When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.”

So take a few moments to watch the below clip and see how looking at stress differently could change your own lives, and hopefully help improve your health in the long run.

I know I’ll be trying my best to look at things differently from now on.

Note: For anyone interested in the transcripts of this talk, they can be found HERE.

What now…

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As I’ve previously posted over the past little while (see The Stress of it all for some backstory), my friend James and I are trying to get a flat near Victoria, and so on (you have read the last posting, right?).

Well, here’s where we are right now:  We’re about to lose the new flat unless something miraculous happens!!!!

You see, I didn’t get the guarantor form from the agent until this past Monday, because he couldn’t read my handwriting and was sending the form to the wrong email address.  Funny thing?  I’d emailed him from my personal email address previously, and he didn’t even think to check the one he had with that to make sure I got the form when I was supposed to.  Smart, huh?

Which means that I wasn’t able to get the form to my Dad in Canada until Monday afternoon (London time) .. and he has yet to say he’ll even do it!

The only kind of response I’ve had from him was an email asking questions about the form (which is literally just the application form James and I had to fill out, but he ticks ‘Guarantor’ at the top instead of ‘Applicant’), which I responded to after asking the estate agent the questions.  Which was last night around 7:30pm or so.

I’d completely understand if my Dad said no to being a guarantor for me, especially with me living on an entirely different continent and all.  It’s just I’d like an answer of some sort from him .. and I’m afraid to push him too much, because I know when pushed into a decision like this, he usually answers ‘no’.

There are a couple of other things we’re trying to do to push this through, but they’re both long-shots:  First being James’s mother being a guarantor for me (although we’ve never met..), but she’s very hesitant to do that.  The second option is to somehow get my work to tell the referencing agency that I’m actually now permanent, eventhough I’m not … I won’t know until tomorrow sometime if Payroll would be willing to do this, as she was gone by the time a co-worker and I thought of it.

If for whatever reason we do lose the flat, James and I will have to start the flat search all over again .. and neither of us want to do that.  We both want this to be sorted and over with already so we can start getting things organized for moving in, transferring the utilities, and so on.

This whole thing should not be causing me as much stress as it is.  I can’t wait until this whole thing is over, one way or another.