Stress is the mental and physical condition that occurs when we adjust or adapt to the environment.
There are two kinds of stress: distress and eustress. Eustress is the kind that supports your life force and energy, helps you feel alive and productive. Activities that provoke the “good stress” are usually challenging, rewarding and energizing, ie sports, a new job, travel, dating, etc. Distress is what we usually call stress that results in deterioration of your system.
Our body reacts physically to stress. We experience a rapid surge in our heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, muscle tension and other physical response. Short term this does not damage our bodies, but long term it does. First symptoms of stress can include headache, fever, fatigue, sore muscles, loss of appetite, upset stomach, shortness of breath, and lack of energy. Long term our body resources are drained and symptoms can include emotional signs such as: anxiety, apathy, irritability, mental fatigue, depression. Behavioral signs include: avoidance of responsibilities and relationships, extreme or self destructive behavior, self-neglect, and poor judgment. Physical signs include: excessive worry about illness, frequent illness, exhaustion, overuse of medicines, physical ailments and complaints.
Deep breathing is essential because when we are under stress we breathe shallow. We should do this several times everyday.
Mediate, Pray: Just ten to twenty minutes of quiet reflection may bring relief. Listen to music, be thankful, think of pleasant things, or think of nothing. Give God your worries. Find the silver lining. Be glad it’s not worse.
Visualize. Use your imagination and picture how you can manage a stressful situation more successfully. Rehearsal boosts self confidence that reduces stress.
Do yoga, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, stretching.
Eat a healthy diet: we should eat lots of vegetables, nuts and fruits, whole grains, fish. The closer a food is to its natural state the healthier it is. Drink water, cut out as much soda as possible. Avoid alcohol. Lose weight if necessary: watch your portions, keep a food journal, do not go on fad diets, make life long changes in your eating habits.
Sleep: go to bed and arise at the same time each day. Get your healthy amount of sleep each night, 6 to 8 hours is average.
Rest and Stretch regularly throughout the day.
Exercise: You need a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 times a week. The 30 minutes do not have to be consecutive. In addition, include weight training for best overall health.
Get out what is bothering you by talking to someone you can trust or get yourself a therapist. Exercise it out, cry it out, scream it out, pray it out, or write it out. Just get it out otherwise it will eventually explode. Journal, Draw, Dance, Walk, etc.
Learn and practice the serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Come up with a plan to deal with the situations you can control that cause stress, let go of the situations you can’t.
Be in the here and now. Let go of the past and stop worrying about the future. Be in the moment and enjoy it. Take one day at a time. Take time to be quiet daily. Stop your inner critic from making yourself feel guilty, depressed, etc. Stop telling yourself you “should” or “shouldn’t” do certain things. Ask yourself who said you should, where is it written, is it reasonable?
Balance your work and play. Stop being a perfectionist and expecting too much of yourself. Be realistic. Recognize and accept your limits. Slow down. Organize yourself; have a place for everything. Don’t procrastinate. Budget your time. Simplify. Say no. Live within your budget. Give up the idea “More is Better”. Reward yourself (hot baths, a healthy snack, etc). Develop a routine and schedule in your life. Be prepared. Prepare the night before for morning. Write it down. Make duplicate keys. Unclutter your life. Take a break: from kids, work, caretaking, any stress inducing situation.
Let go of who is right. Learn the lessons from our mistakes. You only control yourself, no one else. Let it go. You are not in charge; you cannot force people to do what you want them to do. Take responsibility for yourself. Develop a forgiving attitude. Be kind to unkind people. Be flexible. Quit arguing, it increases stress. Don’t be so critical of others. Is it more important to be right or to be happy? Choose being kind over being right.
Develop a support system of friends, family and co-workers. Surround yourself with supportive, happy people. Set boundaries with those who are not.
Connect with nature. Walk, hike, camp, sit outside, etc…Turn off the news. Give a hug. Listen to music. Connect with your purpose.
Laugh, smile: better than a massage. Watch funny movies, funny TV, etc. Tell jokes. When stressed think how your favorite comedian would handle the situation. Be playful. Share cartoons and jokes, look at life’s contradictions and laugh. Laugh at yourself.
Find a hobby, learn something new. Join a club, team, etc… Connect with your higher power. Pray. Be grateful.
Good Karma – The Dalia Lama
Take into account that great love and great achievement involve great risk.
When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
Follow the three R’s:
- Respect for Self
- Respect for Others
- Responsibility for all your actions.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take the steps to correct it.
A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation of your life.
Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Submitted by Susan Greathouse
Licensed Social Worker