I was in the neurologist’s waiting room fearing the worst.
After feeling dizzy for about a month I actually decided to see the doctor. And after a series of tests I was now waiting for the result.
Anticipation, I’ve come to learn, is generally always worse than the actual event.
Thankfully it wasn’t something serious, but something called vestibular migraines. They are like regular migraines except they make you constantly dizzy with some vertigo thrown in for good measure.
The doctor explained that just like other migraines, they usually occurred in response to a trigger and that I had to find mine.
After weeks of going through the list of possible food and drink triggers it turned out that my trigger was (thankfully not chocolate), but in fact just plain old stress.
Saying that stress was a trigger was like saying that some or all fruits were a trigger. I needed to get more specific, was it apples, bananas, a combination of both?
It’s the same thing with stress, except that unlike fruits, we cannot just simply cut it out of our lives. At any given point we are all under some kind of stress.
So what do you do, live with it? … well, No!
In overcoming my vestibular migraines I realised 2 things:
1) There are some stressors that you can remove from your life. We are usually embarrassed, ashamed or feel guilty about removing them.
2) Your reaction to those stress triggers will dictate how well (or badly) that stress affects you. In my case how badly my migraines would become.
This is part of what led me to meditation. I wasn’t trying to become enlightened or a monk, I just wanted to feel better, to feel like a normal person again.
Eliminating triggers doesn’t mean you have to change your entire life. But it does mean you have to become more observant and aware to be able to identify them.
For example, during my parent’s course I ask students to focus on identifying their stress triggers in the week ahead. Recently one of them said this exercise made a massive difference in her life.
She realised that after having inadvertently agreed to pick up a friend before a lesson 3x a week she found herself constantly hurrying and pressuring her son to finish his homework. Homework for those 3 days a week was a battle, mum and son were constantly upset and frustrated with each other.
After realising this, the solution became immediately obvious. To tell her friend (even though she felt guilty about it – but that’s a topic for another email) that she was no longer able to collect her.
Even though it was only 15 extra minutes, they made a huge difference. She no longer felt she had to hurry and was able to enjoy helping her son with his homework. Their relationship improved and they got homework done faster!
Eliminating stressors are not always about changing jobs or ending relationships, sometimes they can be small things like having an extra 15 mins with your child that make a huge difference to how you both feel.
So tell me, do you know your stress triggers?