What is stress?

A brand new series of Walk the Pod starts today and we’re going to be talking about stress and pressure.

Walking is a daily practice that can relieve stress and give us a chance to think about the challenges we’re up against — let’s take a long hard stare at stress and see if we can’t find out a bit more about it.

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What is stress?

Stress occurs when environmental demands exceed the adaptive capabilities of the individual resulting in physiological or psychological changes – McCoy and Evans, 2005

Leaving aside the textbook definitions, let’s talk about what stress is when you’re a 41-year-old Mum of three with a full time job and a podcast.

Stress is caused by my world becoming too much for me. What I want, vs what I can do.

I want to earn enough to pay the bills, look after my children, keep the flat tidy enough to focus, put food on the table and maybe, occasionally, spend time with friends and family.

When I feel like I can’t do one or more of these tasks to the level I want to, I feel stressed. 

Sometimes the job becomes all consuming, and I neglect the flat. When I’m focusing on the housework, the kids complain that I’m not spending enough quality time with them.

Sometimes I need to dash to the shops because we’re out of milk. In these moments, I have allowed my environment to temporarily outpace my ability to adapt.

As humans, we’re good at adapting. Our ability to navigate the demands of the world is vast. We get good at working out what needs to be done for survival — not necessarily life or death survival, but survival in terms of meeting our obligations.

When the environment makes it impossible for me to adapt to survive, then I feel stressed. Yes, it’s only grabbing a couple of pints of milk, but it contributes to a feeling of being in over my head.

And what can be done about it? Besides not signing up for more than one person can reasonably fit into the day? That’s what I’m hoping to find out.

What does stress mean to you? I look forward to exploring the topic with you in more detail during this new series. If you haven’t listened regularly before, join me as we start exploring stress and pressure together.

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Step Up September for the Trussell Trust

This September, I’m walking for 30 minutes a day for the Trussell Trust, who are working to make sure that nobody in the UK needs to use a food bank. If you could sponsor me, I’d appreciate it. 

Thank you

Sponsor me

Some things I’ve been watching and reading

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

A brilliant film starring Michelle Yeah, written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. If you enjoyed The Matrix and have an interest in multi-verse sci-fi dropped into a bucket of multi-coloured Dulux, see this immediately.

Galaxy Quest

A film that starts off gently mocking Sci-fi conventions and Star Trek, but then defies all expectations, becoming a brilliant and gripping film in its own right. Starring Alan Rickman

Four Thousand Weeks

Oliver Burkeman was a productivity guru for The Guardian for many years, then realised that productivity is a trap, and started writing a book about time management for mortals instead. Absolutely superb, may change your life.

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