Going NUTS with stress

Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea.

Mikhail Lermontov

Do you ever experience massive stress and then look back and think, “what the hell was that all about?”

That’s how I felt after my first day of home schooling.

How had I reached stress levels where my chest was tight, my head throbbed and I felt such bone-deep fatigue I was in bed before 9pm? I was only teaching my children to read and do basic maths! How did I end up so stressed?

This acronym helped me uncover an answer.


According to Dr Sonia Lupien, director of The Centre for Studies of Human Stress, all stressful situations contain at least one of these characteristics:

N- Novelty

Our stress levels rise when we find ourselves in novel situations or take on tasks we’ve never done before.

U – Unpredictability

When we face situations we didn’t / couldn’t have predicted, our stress levels rise.

T – Threat to Ego or Sense of Self

Things that make us feel bad about ourselves or see ourselves in a negative light raise our stress levels.

S  – Sense of Control

When our sense of control is threatened or we feel we have little or no control, we experience greater stress.

Finding this acronym wasn’t a lightbulb moment. It was closer to a stadium floodlight moment.

Of course I was bloody stressed!

New situation? Check.

Didn’t see it coming? Check.

Feel like a failure? Check.

Feel my sense of control threatened? Check.

All four of these triggers were present and I felt completely out of my depth and a little resentful about being in the position without having chosen it.

In the past, this would have been precisely the type of situation that caused me to pour a large glass of wine and drink it rapidly.

Instead, I had to figure out what to do next.

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

William James

Taking the time to figure out my next steps gave me a load of ideas to help manage the stress and I’m pleased to say Day 2 and Day 3 have both been wildly successful in comparison to Day 1.

To avoid making this post too long, I’ll tell you about what I did in tomorrow’s post.

How are you finding the home schooling experience? Did these stress triggers resonate with you?

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