Stress briefly noted and what to do about it

 Martha's Vineyard 2010 108

Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.

~Hans Selye~

Are you wasting your time reading this column? Maybe you feel like you don’t have time to deal with your stress. That’s why this column is taking a brief look at stress and what to do about it. This is more of a glimpse at stress than a full treatment of the topic. I hope you have at least a few minutes to join me. If you do, maybe you will end up with more time than you thought you had.

What is stress anyway? The stress researcher Hans Selye defined stress as “the body’s response to a demand for change.” If you drive the same route to work everyday, you might not even be aware that you are driving. But what happens if your car breaks down or you become involved in an accident? These are certainly changes from your usual routine and come to your attention dramatically. It’s not just you body that reacts. Your mind, emotions and your spirit all jump into the fray.

Is all stress the same? No. Acute stress is a reaction to an immediate threat. All of your resources are called into action to tackle or avoid the threat. Chronic stress lingers for days, weeks, months or even years where you live in a state of stress dragging down your body, mind, emotions and soul. Chronic stress makes it hard for you to live life as you once knew it. After a while, you might not even realize how much stress you carry with you.

Where does stress come from? Some stress is out of your control. You don’t decide to lose your job, experience the death of a close relative or become seriously ill. All of these stressors find you and usually take you by surprise. You can try to ignore this kind of stress but it is there whether or not you want it to be. You deliberately choose other sources of stress whenever you make a change in your life. Examples include moving out on your own, getting married, and having children. It’s not that these choices have no rewards. They do. However the changes required are stressful. Now let’s look a what you can do about it.

Can I avoid stress? You can avoid it to some extent. You can make choices which you know caused you stress in the past.

How can I help my body deal with stress? You can take care of it. Nutritious food gives you the fuel all parts of you body need to handle stress. Junk food, unhealthy chemicals, and too much of the wrong food make you sluggish when you most need your body’s alertness and energy.

How can I help my mind deal with stress? You can make lists so you can see your choices. You can find ways to quiet your mind such as yoga or meditation.

How can I settle my emotions? You can learn how to accept your feelings and not blaming yourself for having them.

How can I bring peace to my soul?  Some people find prayer helpful. For others discovering mindfulness, or living in the moment, helps.

These are some notes from my book, Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life. If you want to learn more about stress, I invite you to read my book. I have also included there other readings which might be helpful.

Life Lab Lessons 

  • Learn what stresses you.
  • Choose your stress wisely.
  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Accept who you are and live in the moment.
  • Practice letting go of blaming others or yourself.

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