Saying goodbye and the impacts of stress on the body

Saying goodbye and the impacts of stress on the body

Today I said goodbye to a longtime friend…

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14 yo Max the cat (also known as Maxy, Mak, Makster, Makley, Makky, Wacko and Mr. Max  among many). The decision to rehome my tabby boy (because I am moving overseas), was not taken lightly. I wanted to find a home where he could live out his life safe and happily in a new roost that he felt comfortable enough to own. I was lucky enough to get in touch with Homeless Hounds (who, despite the name, also deal with cats) and their absolutely wonderful staff who put me in touch with potential new owners. I felt really confident that they were only going to find good, trustworthy people for Max, people that would love him until the end.

I got a call from a woman at HH and she put me in touch with Samantha who had inquired about Max and decided that he was what her home was missing. We talked and I thought she sounded perfect . I decided that we would go ahead with it however the plan was to wait for a couple of weeks so I could spend some final quality time with my little guy.

I felt like this extra time would give me the time I needed to say goodbye, to really be present and enjoy the final moments we had together. Really I was just prolonging the inevitable, procrastinating, putting my emotions on hold; I wasn’t ready to feel them.

I wasn’t ready to feel the sadness that would come with saying goodbye to the beautiful kitten I adopted 14 years ago from the RSPCA; I wasn’t ready to feel the loneliness that I would experience walking into my house for the next couple of months to not be greeted by Mr. Opinionated who always had something to say; most of all, I wasn’t ready to feel the guilt that I would feel because I wanted to pursue a relationship and life overseas with someone who is new in my life but so special to me. And that the decision to leave and be with my love, to follow my heart, meant that my good buddy Mak would have to move on without me as moving with me was not an option.

So, rather than wait, I moved him immediately.

After I made that phone call to Samantha organising my sudden change of heart (for which I think she was happy), I broke down like I hadn’t in a while…even writing this, I am tearing up remembering it . After I calmed myself down (with the help of my legend boyfriend), I got myself organised, collecting everything that belonged to Max (including his beanbag) and drove him to meet his new mum.

The move went swimmingly well.

The Makster was a little reluctant to come out of his travel case (probably ’cause he’d spent almost an hour at the vet getting poked and proded, jabbed and clipped) but after I turned him upside down and forced him into his new world, he started to wander. I discovered today that he is not as anxious, or shy, as I thought he was. Once he knew there was no other animal who had marked his territory there, he walked around, communicating his feelings with us occasionally and even decided to investigate upstairs.

After the goodbyes had been said and the tears had ceased (I had to stop the car because I couldn’t drive and cry…or sob…you would think that you could but you actually can’t see anything, not to mention the convulsing body issue! … Again, assisted by said legend bf who was present in spirit, text and youtube videos that made me laugh), I went about my day knowing that my boy, the one I picked up immediately, without hesitation, as I walked into that cage full of beautiful kittens at the RSPCA, all of those years ago (none, of course as beautiful as he), was going to be OK. He is a cat and will make the transition without much worry. I, on the other hand, had a little more to deal with but it makes it so much easier knowing that he will cope without me.

So what does all this stress do to one’s person?

Other than it making you feel like crap physically (I totally passed out that night and had the best sleep), how else does stress impact on you? And what if it occurs from something greater than a beloved pet (who I knew was going to be OK), such as a death of a family member, partner or child? Couple this with the fact that we have other, more minor stresses in our lives that wreak havoc on our internal systems.

Sometimes things like these happen and we can’t control them, so physiologically, what happens to us?

Everyone has heard of the “fight or flight” response.

Well this is what happens when your body is under stress. It acknowledges that there is a threat to your survival and it does what it needs to “save” you. Of course this is great if you’re being chased by a lion and you need that quick boost to climb high up a tree out of harm’s way but when this occurs daily because of the pressures of work, or the traffic you have to sit in to get to work, or the people in your life that you feel need you constantly, it is not good for you and can lead to other issues.

Your body responds by pumping cortisol and adrenaline around. It also sends messages to your brain to reduce (and if the stress is prolonged, cease) the production of sex hormones which can then lead on to cause a whole host of problems for women, particularly infertility and thyroid problems (your body is not a good host for a baby when it’s in stress). Not to mention that stress can decrease the function of our immune system impacting on the bacteria in our guts, increase our desire for sugary foods, make it hard for us to get a proper night’s sleep which makes us turn to things like alcohol, coffee and energy drinks to help us get through the day…leading to weight gain, cardiovascular problems etc etc… the health impacts are endless.

So, ok, stress is not something we want occurring in our bodies on a regular basis; it’s not good for us. But the reality is, we all go through it…many of us daily. So then, how do we deal with it and what can we do?

1. Eat well. Get plenty of good food into you. Low carb high (healthy) fat is great for this. For females, you don’t want to go too low carb (think 70% fat, 15% protein, 15% carbs). If you’re not sure what LCHF is all about, click here. Eat three meals a day, snack if you are hungry but only on good quality sources of fat (egg yolks, macadamia nuts, yoghurt etc). Not eating enough will stress your body into starvation mode

2. Get enough rest. 8 hours is a proper night’s rest but it doesn’t work if you go to bed at midnight and get up at 8. Best time for optimal sleep is from around 10/10.30 until 6am.

3. Exercise or “move” everyday. Movement is essential and should do the following:

  • Be short and sweet (30-45 mins). HIIT/Tabata/Bodyweight training is ideal.
  • Include some stress-reducing activities like meditation and yoga. Walking is also beneficial (but not power walking).
  • Have an enjoyment factor, something that you look forward to, not something you do because you want to “get ripped” or “smash it” to release excess energy. This doesn’t mean you completely stop what you’re doing but minimise it so your body is not constantly under stress from exercise.
  • Be done in the morning. Try to do you more intense exercise in the am. Going to bed after doing an intensive session will amp you up before you sleep. Yoga can be done in the evening.

4. Have sex/orgasm. Enough said.

5. Enjoy life more. It’s easily said but practice being grateful for your life and the things you have. And, if you don’t like something in your life, find a way to change it. I have been teaching for years but felt that my  calling was in the field of health and wellbeing, hence why I have gone back to study. I’ve learnt so much from teaching and will take the skills with me into my new field of work but it’s time for change.

6. Other things you can do include going out with friends, getting out in nature, focusing on the positives in your life, throwing away the scales, surrounding yourself with good influences and laughing.

Stress can be a thing of the past for you. We all struggle with it but using these tips, you can choose to change your life for the better and be your best self.

I, for one, miss my little guy tremendously and it has stressed me out this week…

But I know that he has gone to a great new home and is being loved and I organised for this to happen and I am proud of myself for being a responsible pet owner. This piece of mind helps me to be calm and distractions, exercise, family time, even writing about it help me to think about it less. I know that stress is not productive and I am actively trying to reduce it.


Love (and healthy fats) Bee x

*Posted late, event occurred Wed 08/04 (I needed time to process)

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