Stress is the number one cause of a myriad of diseases from diabetes to heart disease to even cancer. Stress, when not given a proper outlet, can cause emotional issues which then lead to physical problems requiring medical attention. How does one balance the stresses (good and bad) of life and the emotions resulting from too much stress? Here are a few suggestions that may help:
1. List all sources of stress. Identifying the key sources of stress will help you eliminate probably half of that which causes you undue stress. For example, if you work with someone whom you don’t really like, and that causes you unnecessary stress, you can eliminate that particular stressor by avoiding that person as much as possible (even if it is your boss!). Once you’ve identified the different sources of stress, you will be able to figure out which ones you can eliminate and which ones you will have to work diligently to overcome.
2. Determine which stressors cause the strongest emotional reactions. Some stressors are obviously more difficult than others. For example, if you find out one of your friends or family members has been diagnosed with cancer, you will naturally have an initial (and ongoing) emotional reaction.
One way to help balance your emotions is to talk with the person and determine how they are coping with their new disease. Their attitude may help you determine to have a better attitude about their disease, which will release the burden in your heart.
For stressors that are not as critical, for example, if your car breaks down on the highway, you can remind yourself that the stress is temporary and will be relieved once the car is fixed.
3. Choose your battles. Not everything is a crisis. Learn to choose which ones are more critical than others, and this will help you manage your emotional reactions to different stressors.
4. Choose your attitude. Circumstances can steer us, or we can steer ourselves in spite of our circumstances. If we allow the circumstances in our lives to dictate our emotional responses to stress, we will live in a perpetual state of emotional, stressful chaos. Choosing to see the positive even in the worst of circumstances can help relieve your stress and lower your emotional response to many challenging situations.
5. Good stress. Most people who are having a child are excited about the opportunity to become parents (whether it’s the first or the fifth child). Likewise, getting married, changing jobs, going to college, retiring, or even simply playing competitive sports are all sources of “good” stress. The key in preventing good stress overload is in how you manage this type of stress. Too much of a good thing is simply too much, so try to manage the good stresses effectively so as to ensure the health of your body is maintained as well.
Overall, try not to execute too many changes in one year, as your body will shut down after too many years of good or bad stress. Your mind can differentiate the two; your body cannot, and will lead your emotions to believe your body is under attack, thus raising your blood pressure and decreasing your emotional barometer. Effectively managing key stressors in your life will help you determine your emotional responses more impact-fully.
It can be easy to become unraveled in this busy world we live in. It seems there is always so much to do, both at home and at work, that the idea of taking time out to relax seems a luxury we just can’t afford.
Some stress is good. It is a natural part of everyday life. Other times stress feels unmanageable and makes it difficult to function effectively on the job or in relationships. There is a price to pay for burning the candle at both ends. Too much stress and not enough stress management can lead to irritability, anxiety, depression and health problems such as high blood pressure.
To manage stress better begin with an attitude adjustment. Acknowledge that some things such as long supermarket lines, gridlocked traffic or billing errors are beyond your control and will have no lasting impact on your life. Learn when to let go.
Of course there are times when you are in control of a situation that is causing you a great deal of stress. You can make your stress level more manageable by doing a few basic things. These include:
Taking care of yourself
Do your best to eat healthy foods and get at least moderate exercise on a regular basis.
Keep a calendar
If you feel the pressure of a consistent time crunch, a calendar may help you stay on track. Writing things down can help you feel more in control of the many tasks you are called on to manage.
Remind yourself of your competence
You have undoubtedly navigated tough or sticky situations before and you will do so this time as well.
Commit to quiet time
Take a little time each day, away from the hustle and bustle to gather your thoughts and catch your breath. Just ten minutes each morning and a minute or two at intervals throughout the day can work wonders for managing stress and gaining perspective.
Talk things out with a friend
If you feel particularly burdened try sharing the load with a friend. Sometimes it helps to talk a problem or challenge through out loud. Often the problem loses its power, or you gain a new perspective by talking it through aloud.
You might also try other techniques such as yoga, meditation or breathing exercises. An example of such an exercise is below:
A very powerful breathing practice is as simple as consciously following your breath. Pay attention. Notice each inhale and exhale. Resolve to practice this several times throughout the day. You may need to set an alarm or incorporate your breath awareness with another activity such as lunchtime or restroom visits.
Following your breath will calm your mind and help to replace random thoughts that no longer serve you with deliberate ones that are planned to help you realize your highest vision of yourself. Make a special effort to follow your breath when you are angry or anxious; you will allow yourself immediate access to a reservoir of calm that is unmistakable. Try it the next time you are stuck in traffic or need to do something that feels difficult.