Lesson 18: 9 Ways to Overcome Stress In Your Life
9 Ways to Overcome Stress in Your Life
How to Thrive Among the Chaos
We live in a stressed out world. It seems that everywhere you look, people are harried, hurried, and stressed. And, even those folks who appear to be thriving are melting down. The understanding of where your physical, mental, and spiritual gauges are at is a powerful perspective on balancing your life. Understanding what stress is and its impact on you and your world is another view on how to measure your life and begin to thrive among the chaos. The stress in your life can absolutely be overcome.
The Myth of Good Stress Versus Bad Stress
The traditional view of stress used to be that there was a major difference in how ‘bad’ stress and ‘good’ stress affected the body. Today, that approach has been completely repudiated by scientific and scholarly research. Stress is stress, no matter what the origin. In other words, a good event like getting married has the same impact on the body as a bad event like losing your job. Why is this true? Ultimately, these stressful situations impact the exact same chemical in the body, adrenaline. Put simply, stress is a biological problem.
Too much prolonged stress without periods of relief lead to massive problems like migraines, mental health days, driving impaired, heart attacks, strokes, stomach ailments, emergency room visits. It is estimated that the overall cost of stress-related issues in the United States is well over $400 billion dollars. Doctors are specializing in stress-related ailments, and often, when doctors in clinics do not know the root cause of an issue; they label it stress. This stressed out world impacts children, as well. Much of the increase diagnosis of kids with anxiety issues is attributed to stress. A cute little Girl Scout can earn a stress management patch to proudly put on her vest.
Americans are known to be intense and driven people. Yet, this increased pace is felt everywhere in our world today. Years ago it was once felt that technology would help cut the number of hours in our work week down. The opposite has been true. Technology has not only increased our workload, it has also made us more accessible and decreased the amount of personal space that we all need. It used to be that people only had landlines in which someone could leave a message. Now, people can leave a message on the home phone, personal phone, business phone. People can send an email to personal accounts and business accounts. People can text, and even page, business numbers and personal numbers. Accessible is a problem. Being available 24/7 is not a good thing. Being available and accessible 24/7 leads to an increase in continual stress because we never get a chance to create margin in our life, personal space, and a mental break.
We Life In a Stressed Out World
We power up with energy drinks, coffee and tea. We power down with alcohol, sleeping pills, and other drugs. We have great difficulty in stopping our minds from spinning. And, many people suffer from sleep depravation which has a significant toll on our work productivity and quality of our relationships. Stress. We life in a stressed out world. How can you thrive among the chaos?
Interestingly, too much stress is a major problem. However, on the flip side, we do need some stress in our lives for a variety of reasons:
Kelly McGonigal: How To Make Stress Your Friend
9 Ways to Overcome Stress In Your Life
- Learn to Live Counter-Culturally. It is a choice. You can choose not to get the latest and greatest technology. You can choose to dial back the amount of activities that you and your family members are involved with. You can choose to live within your means and within your mind.
- Recognize Your Limitations. Do not apologize that you may have reached your capacity. Do not apologize that you have certain deficits and limitations. Wisdom is learning to lead from a position of strength and then find others to help you shore up your areas of deficit. Seek out assistance.
- Advocate For Yourself. Ultimately, nobody truly understands how you are feeling mentally but you. Even those people who love us the most, truly cannot appreciate the depths to which you are struggling. You must advocate for yourself.
- Recognize Your Bodies Early Cues and Take Action. We often expect our bodies to adjust to the maddening pace of our life, and often it does. On the other hand, it will give us cues when it is reaching a breaking point: muscle soreness, back pain, neck stiffness, lack of hunger, too much hunger, ongoing thirst. Evaluate and adjust before something major happens.
- Create Margins In Your Life. The idea of ‘margin’ originally came from a great book called, Margin by Dr. Richard Swenson. Essentially, it is the idea of carving out time and space for you to reenergize and/or to rest. Put on your calendar, ‘commitment’ just for you!
- Accept the Necessity of Medication. I apologize for listing this one, but it is true. If medication is needed – it is needed. You should take it without embarrassment or apology. It can help you become a better you. Without it, we have seen many folks who have struggled mightily, and others, catastrophically.
- Actively Monitor Your Mental State. Yes, this has everything to do with your mental gauge. If you are struggling mentally, don’t just ignore it. Do you want to have a nervous breakdown? Stop and make plans. See a counselor. Pick up a book. Listen to a podcast. Make positive changes.
- Actively Monitor Your Physical State. Ironically, limited stressors are good for your body, as well. In fact, muscle only grows after it has been ‘torn’ first. To get big and strong muscles, they have to be stretched and torn first in order to increase their capacity. Testing your heart’s capacity in manageable doses is also good. One of the goals for many workouts and routines is to increase your working heart rate. Of course, don’t go overboard or you could wind up on a gurney! But, it is hard to thrive if your physical state is a complete mess.
- Actively Monitor Your Spiritual State. For many this is the most important state to monitor. Why? You are connecting with someone much bigger than yourself. This gives you purpose, passion, and peace. Prayer. Reflection. Listening. Guidance. Adhering to this area first would be a great place to start.
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Go Beyond Awareness to Thriving
I am not a doctor, psychologist, counselor, therapist, or social worker. Maybe, I should not be audacious enough to give advice on stress management. Yet, I have watched, learned, discussed, and researched and have realized that this is a problem all over the world. What will it take to help you thrive amongst the chaos? It is chaos. Watch the news. Read the paper. Follow the 9 Ways to Overcome Stress In Your Life and go beyond awareness to thriving and take control of your life!
- How are your gauges?
- What is your plan for improvement?
- What strategies are you going to implement?