Noun: "The quality of transparency or purity"
When we feel stress we can often struggle to see the wood for the trees. We can feel a mental fog that descends and settle for what can feel like an age. For me this definitely rang true at the height of my career in Further Education and Corporate Beauty. My experience with chronic-stress is deeply rooted in both the trauma of my previous relationship and being bullied in the workplace; both taking place during the same period and having a profound impact on my mental health, my mental well-being and therefore my physical health. 10 years marks the lowest point in my life, I was so disconnected and the fog felt more like mud. I talk more about chronic-stress in-particular in this blog post.
I had no idea then just how much these experiences would impact my life, my relationships, my resilience and sense of self to this very day. Now don't get me wrong, I'm very privileged to have a loving family but I was living in a different country at the time and often it's hard to admit the reality of what we're experiencing to those closest to us because of all the shame we feel.
All of our experiences with chronic-stress will differ but the impacts are often the same. After so many conversations with others who can relate the one thing that really stands out for me more than anything else is the feeling that you are completely isolated. Whether that's due to someone else's treatment of you or your treatment of yourself, it's the overwhelming feeling of being utterly one your own. Alone. The unwavering belief that not a single person on the planet feels the way you do. Not a single person out there has been through what you're going through. No one else has these feelings you have. And yet, the truth is quite simply the opposite.
The thing I so desperately needed 10 years ago was not to feel alone. The thing I was searching for without knowing at the time, was feeling like I belonged and like I meant something. The thing I was looking for was community.
Life is very different for me now, and I'm happy to say I'm in a far better place than I was 10 years ago, but it's been a tough ride to get here, and I'm still on this path. I look back on when I physically and geographically removed myself from both situations and naively thought I'd be "all better" within a year. That's how long I gave myself to "get over it"! I'm not joking!! A year.
I couldn't understand why, after leaving my corporate career back in 2020, my marriage seemed to be suffering even more than it was already, and then after an experience where my trauma resurfaced towards the end of 2020, my sister very succinctly pointed out to me that after physically walking away from my previous relationship and the job I had at the time where the bullying took place, I spent the next decade literally driving away from it (my corporate beauty career meant I was driving the length and breadth of the UK every week), from it's aftermath and subconsciously choosing to ignore its residual effects.
I started therapy towards the end of last year and my therapist pointed out that my body and my brain closed off to what happened as a way of self-preservation. The trauma resurfaced because I'm in a place where I feel safe, I feel secure, I feel valued and loved. My body and brain knew that I was finally ready to begin dealing with what happened. That's when I knew therapy had become a non-negotiable for me. It's taken me 2 years to go from admitting I probably could do with some therapy to deciding to look for a therapist to actually reaching out to this person and following up with my first appointment. No one tells you how massive that leap is to go from admitting therapy might be something you need (especially as a Brit, we're not exactly known for expressing our feelings to strangers! This is where we really could learn from our American cousins, in my view!) to finding someone, making first contact, scheduling an appointment and then actually showing up!!
And here we are. Do I feel "all better" now? Am I "all sorted" and "over it"? No. Honestly, no because I think that's the lie we tell ourselves, we need to "move on" and yes in many ways we do but our experiences shape us. As much as what happened to me was awful and painful and very nearly killed me, I've always been grateful that it happened - Hear me out -It made me the person I am today and will make the person I become in the next 10 years. I am definitely a stronger person and also much kinder. I have more conviction and confidence in myself than ever before, I still get imposter syndrome because hello, I'm human! But I have empathy and compassion in a way that I didn't before. I abhor bullying and made a promise to myself that I would always call it out, and I do. Because all I wanted was to feel seen, like I existed, not invisible. If I can do that for someone else then I feel like I'm doing it for the person I was 10 years ago at the same time. I'm honouring who she was. What she needed.
Having a sense of clarity helps me to feel more focused. It helps me to feel more purposeful. It gives me a sense of control. Yoga does the same for me; it gives me a sense of clarity as all I'm focusing on is my breath. Whether I'm led by another teacher or I put some music on and move by myself; I'm guided by how my body feels and I feel more connected to my body than ever when I'm in that moment. That for me is probably the most precious and valuable thing I have learned over the years; feeling connected to myself and therefore, feeling able (and empowered!) to connect to others.
So this week, as you move, take note of your breath. Take the time to breathe into different parts of your body and notice how it feels, notice where feels relaxed and where feels tense. There's no right or wrong here, it's simply awareness. If you're looking to show yourself some compassion then give my latest Power Vinyasa a try. Perhaps it'll help you to cultivate a sense of clarity as well.
If you enjoy this week's flow then please let me know by hitting that like button. Consider subscribing to my YouTube channel as well, and give that notification bell a smash too. Not only does it mean you'll always be notified when a new video goes live, but you'll also help me to reach more people, because isn't that what we all need when things are just plain shitty? A sense of belonging. A sense of community. Knowing that we're seen, valued, heard, and that we and our experiences DO matter.
If you'd like to join me for in-person Yoga then check out my timetable here for my weekly classes. Remember, EVERYONE gets their first in-person class FREE with the code "FIRSTFREE". I also offer a monthly subscription for only £24 per month, which reserves your space on the mat every week plus you get 1 (sometimes 2!) classes free! Plus you get early access to my pre-recorded flows 24 hours before they go live.
If you're a little further afield or prefer not to join in-person then I offer a weekly live online 30 minute practice every Friday morning at 8am in a private group. When you sign up you have access for the length of your commitment so if you can't join live you can always catch up on the replay. The membership is only £12 for the whole of January and there's still 3 practices left so only £4 per session, saving you 50%! Plus you get early access to my pre-recorded flows 24 hours before they go live.
I also run a 6-week in-person Yoga for Chronic-Stress course, with my next intake starting 7:15pm on Thursday 3rd March at Wagtail Coffee and Yoga. It's 1 hour every week and my goal is to give you the tools so that you can begin to effectively and sustainably manage your own chronic-stress.
Remember to check out this blog post as well for my 5 tips For Managing Stress That You Can Implement Now.