The 21st century has brought us not only technological advances and medical breakthroughs, but a disease that is worse in this century than in any other era in human history. It’s destroying families, jobs and the social life
of millions in this country. It might even be considered a pandemic in the United States.
What exactly is this disease, this evil that destroys lives?
In this century, the causes of stress are numerous and very difficult to avoid. Things like an illness or injury, the death of a loved one, a divorce or money problems. Even happy occasions such as a promotion at work, relocating and buying a new home, or having a baby can cause stress in your life.
Unrelieved stress can cause serious physical problems like headaches, backaches, depression, high blood pressure, stomach problems, constant fatigue, insomnia and even a weight gain or loss. Not everyone shows all the same symptoms, some may not show any symptoms right away, but don’t be fooled. Stress will catch up with you sooner or later, unless you find ways to alleviate the problems. Note I said alleviate the problems, not the just deal with the symptoms.
Before you can learn to deal with the stress, you must figure out what’s causing it. If you can’t pinpoint the exact cause or causes right away, try keeping a stress journal for a few weeks. Make note of everything that happens and your reactions.
A good way to relieve stress is to prepare as well as you can for occasions you think might be stressful, such as job interviews, or networking for business, or social occasions like parties. The better you plan, the less stressed out you’ll feel. There’s nothing like being prepared to take the edge off things. In these cases, the cause of stress is fear of the unknown. How should you handle things, what should you say? Doing a little rehearsing will make you feel more prepared and sure of yourself.
Try not to set yourself unrealistic goals for work or your personal life. First, you’ll stress out over accomplishing the goals and then be depressed when you can’t pull it off. Keep it simple at first. Find a modest goal and shoot for that. Do your best and when you accomplish it, pat yourself on the back. Then shoot for the next modest goal. As you become more accomplished and self-confident, set your sights a little higher. The key here is baby steps.
Changes in your life are normal, if sometimes not desirable. Try to see these changes positively rather than negatively. Challenges will come and go, and it’s not the adversity that matters, but the way you cope with them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends, even from professionals, if you feel the need warrants it. Everyone copes differently and in their own time. Be kind to yourself.
Be sure to eat good, balanced meals and try to get as much rest as possible. One of the main causes of stress is often lack of good sleep and bad eating habits. Take care of yourself.
When you’re in stress mode, your body reacts. Suddenly your breath is coming in shallow gasps and you may even feel like running away. This is your body’s way of dealing with panic. It’s the flight or fight emotion. A good way of dealing with this is to meditate. You just need a quiet place to sit and be comfortable for a few minutes. Close your eyes and relax your whole body. Then take a deep breath, hold it for a count of five, and release it slowly. Repeat this process several times and you will begin to feel yourself relaxing and breathing normally. The frantic feeling should go away and you’ll begin to feel calm again. Repeat this whenever you can.
Another great way to deal with stress is with physical exercise. Get out and take a walk, play tennis or go bowling. Not only will the exercise help to calm you down, but also doing these fun things with a friend is part of the prescription for lowered blood pressure. And speaking of friends, maybe it’s time to find yourself a four-legged friend. It’s a proven fact that pets have a calming effect on humans and can even lower your blood pressure.
And finally, learn to laugh, find the funny side of things whenever possible. They do say that laughter is the best medicine. Finding the humorous side could help keep you off the medicine. It’s relaxing and just makes you feel good.
Try any or all of these techniques and see if you don’t start feeling calmer and able to live your life more happily. The more you reduce the stress in your life, the more you’ll accomplish, the more self-confident you’ll become. You might even begin to influence others to gain control over their own stress.