My journey with stress

We all have a unique journey with stress. No matter where you are on that journey, the right strategies make all the difference. 

Struggling with stress and anxiety has been part of my journey. Having been scared and unable to cope with the daily demands of life, I now understand the value of calling on support and learning how to manage stress.

I was a stressed out dad and husband before my 21st birthday.

For me and anyone who knew me back then, this was a big deal, as it was quite a dramatic shift from the direction my life was heading.

But the reality of being a husband and dad at a young age while being untrained, unqualified, and unemployed soon became a heavy weight to carry. 

What I now know, which I didn't know then, is that the huge changes in my life‚ÄĒdespite them being¬†good‚ÄĒhad¬†led to¬†me experiencing an immense level of stress.

Some stress was internal. Some external.

The internal stress came from the value I place on family, loyalty, and leadership. Which, although good, were hampered by a crippling fear of failure and the negative effects of imposter phenomenon.

And some of my external stressors included things like work, study, bereavement, and, of course, the daily challenges and demands that come with family life.

But unknown to me, the mental and emotional roller-coaster ride I would experience over the next sixteen years or so would help me learn the importance of managing stress well.

I struggled under the weight of stress for years, and it almost killed me!

Looking back, from my teens through early adulthood, I hated myself. The weight of shame and guilt was unbearable, but I didn’t have the self-awareness or courage to recognise or do anything about it.

I felt powerless!

Feeling lonely, ashamed, and like my life had no meaning, I struggled to make sense of myself and the world around me. It was then that I turned to self-destructive habits as a way of coping and escaping the pain I felt.

During those difficult years, I found faith, which continues to¬†play an active role in my life to this day.¬†But I¬†later found that faith alone wasn‚Äôt enough.¬†I also needed the support and input of others‚ÄĒfamily, friends, mentors, counsellors, and coaches.

As a young dad and husband, I was desperate to find work so I could provide for my family. And after several visits to my local Job Centre, I was eventually given an interview, which led to me getting a job as a civil servant.

And I loved it!

Each day, I spoke with people from all walks of life and helped them find employment. After a few promotions, I was headhunted to work within the recruitment sector, where I was again able to support clients in finding work.

It was great. I was wearing nice suits (I thought so!), networking with clients in the hustle and bustle of London's city centre, earning good money, and enjoying the perks of having all expenses paid.

But as is the case for many people, the novelty soon wore off! And to continue 'enjoying' the grind, I started to rely on additional help from some of my familiar so-called friends: drugs, alcohol, and pornography.

At the time, it didn't seem to be a problem. In fact, within the context of my professional network, strip clubs, drugs, and alcohol were the norm. And in some cases, they were celebrated!

However, the relationship I'd reestablished with my coping habits was no different from what I'd developed a few years earlier. I was using them to ignore stress and avoid difficult thoughts and emotions.

I was in a bad place mentally and emotionally. The way I approached and managed the stress in my life wasn't good, and it almost killed me!

"Now that I've finished my sessions with Nic, I feel very confident and reassured about my issues."

- Josh

"Nic was empathetic, didn’t pressure me to talk about anything I didn’t feel I needed to discuss, yet was extremely helpful and insightful."

- Ben

"Nic created highly professional and focused sessions within which I could challenge my addiction."

- Amy

Big men don't cry! Well, that's what they'd have us believe...

The lifestyle didn't align with my values or beliefs, so I soon left the hustle and bustle of the city to start working with young people in my local community.

And it was fulfilling. I felt I was able to pay forward some of the support I'd received from others after being asked to leave home at 17 years old (a story for another day, perhaps!).

I then trained to become a counselling therapist before setting up a counselling service for the young people within a pupil referral unit in south London.

Some years later, I was invited to work for my church, where I was responsible for leading and developing the pastoral care and programmes for young people aged 11‚Äď18.

I was fortunate to lead a great team of people who were passionate about investing their time, skills, and energy in the next generation. We had some fun times!

But as the church grew, so did my responsibilities. And with a growing family, I began to notice the alarming sense of disconnect that often accompanies stress.

It took about two years after first noticing this before deciding something needed to change. But it wasn't an easy decision to make. In fact, it was one of the most stressful periods of my life. 

There were some tears, hours of therapy, and plenty of helpful conversations with a coach before I arrived at a place where I felt able to decide on doing what I believed was best...

Slowing things down, prioritising my wellbeing, and being more deliberate about how to manage stress.

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Yes, I struggled with stress, but you don't have to!

Looking back, I now see where a lot of my stress had come from leaning into the expectations of others in an effort to gain their affirmation and win their approval. I also see where this was a no-win situation.

Maybe you can relate? And maybe, like me, you can see where unmanaged stress could do untold damage to your health, relationships, business, career, and other important areas of your life.

Perhaps you can also see where stress could kill you!

But through my experiences of stress and burnout, I was able to get clarity. I was forced to take an honest look at my life, ask some big questions, and make a good few decisions.

And it was at the point of making the first decision that everything started to move in a healthier direction. And it's the same now. When I make a decision, things seem to happen!

But it wasn't just a decision to change that made the difference, it was getting clearer on what I really did or didn't want my life to look like. In other words, I began to imagine a different future.

It was a future in which I felt more connected to my loved ones, had more energy to do work that mattered, and had more confidence in my ability to make choices that aligned with my values.

And once I'd imagined what I believed would be a better future, there was no turning back. It was obvious to me that life was going to look different.

These are the kinds of shifts I can help you with. So if what I've shared about my journey connects, then book a complimentary consultation call to see if we'd be a good fit.

Still unsure if I'm the right professional for you?

As I'll have the privilege of knowing about some of your goals, fears, and struggles, I think it's only fair to have shared a little bit about my story.

But if you want to know about the more formal stuff, go ahead and knock yourself out...

The formal, boring stuff

For over two decades, I've supported others to improve their mindset, wellbeing, and performance so they can regain control of their lives and have more impact.

Alongside my continued professional development (CPD), I've also achieved the following:

  • Most Outstanding Student of the Year Award (Gloucestershire University)
  • BSc (Hons) Applied Social Sciences (First)
  • ILM Level 5 Certificate in Leadership & Management
  • BTEC Level 3 Award in Education & Training
  • Diploma in Personal Performance Coaching
  • MBACP Registered Counsellor (095486)
  • Diploma in Person-Centered Therapy Counselling
  • Certificate in Counselling

Other training

  • Primary Certificate in Stress Management (Centre for Stress Management)
  • Nonviolent Communication (Foundation Certificate)
  • Mental Health Crisis Awareness
  • Postvention: Assisting Those Bereaved by Suicide (PABBS)
  • Applied Suicide Intervention Training (ASIST)
  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)

I've had opportunities to work with individuals, couples, and groups from various backgrounds. It's this experience that'll influence my work with you.

Things that make my heart happy

Besides the obvious joy of time with family, friends and the intimate conversations I get to have with insightful thinkers inside the pages of good books, where shall I start?

Hmmm...

Let's go with salted caramel Häagen-Dazs and popcorn.

Yep, I love both and eat them while watching dramas and reading books, and if it were possible, I'd eat them while at the gym.

Seriously, I would!

I also enjoy being creative. Things like graphic design, photography, and, on occasion, picking up a guitar.

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