The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it. Sydney J. Harris
No doubt stress is a timely topic as, for the past 22 years, April has been designated as Stress Awareness Month, by the Health Resource Network. I’ll add that I find myself somewhat confused because, according to Days of the Year.com, November 4, has been designated as Stress Awareness Day. Shouldn’t Stress Awareness Day be part of Stress Awareness Week? I’m just saying.
Last week I encouraged (OK, urged) you to become increasingly aware of stressful experiences. The first steps to change are awareness and insight. Now that you’re more aware of when and perhaps why you experience stress, let’s move on to reducing the severity and frequency of stressful experiences.
It’s probably best here to define what I mean by stress. I characterize it as anything that poses a challenge or threat to our well being. That would be anything that creates fear. It seems to me that the word stress is a new millennium word for fear. So when I say “I’m really stressed out about this,” the words come from thoughts that say, “This really scares me.” Try it out. The next time you’re feeling stressed, ask yourself, “What fearful thoughts am I entertaining?” Maybe it will help you to get in touch with the source of your stress.
The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. William James
So as we move on to the subject of reducing the severity and frequency of stressful experiences, I’m afraid that I have some bummer news. There’s nothing new to suggest. Here we go again, if you want to reduce stress;
- Eat a healthy diet
- Meditation, relaxation
- Yoga, Tai Chi, etc.
- Have fun
As they say in the info-mercials, “But wait there’s more!” According to Mayo Clinic’s Tips to Tame Stress, try these too.
- Get active – goes along with Exercise in our first list.
- Laugh more – listen to comedic routines (search “comedy” on YouTube), read some jokes (Google “jokes”).
- Connect with others – instincts may be to wrap yourself in a cocoon. Instead, reach out to family and friends for social connection.
- Assert yourself – you may want to do it all, but you can’t, at least not without paying a price. Learn to say “no” or “no thank you.”
- Get enough sleep
- Keep a journal – I love Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages which are part of her Artist’s Way course. She advises us to write long-hand, three pages of journaling every morning. Just write, don’t think, just write whatever comes to mind.
And last, but most definitely not least, you could try the opposite of what Lindsay Holmes, Healthy Living Editor for The Huffington Post, suggests we do to Be the Most Stressed Out Person You Know.
- Stay plugged in 24/7 – spend the majority of the day with your devices. They have been scientifically proven to stress you out.
- Keep everything bottled up inside.
- Be a couch potato – there we go with exercise again!
- Sacrifice your passions for your paycheck (I’ll add, or your relationships).
- Aim for perfection – perfectionists strive to have everything just right and this can lead to a stressful lifestyle.
- Overanalyze everything – when has a stressful situation been resolved by obsessing over it?
- Shop, shop, shop – materialism may intensify stress’s effects.
- Feed off other people’s stress – getting swept away in someone else’s problems can stress you out.
- Make “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” your motto – sleep deprivation can significantly affect stress levels.
- Disregard your finances – according to the American Psychological Association, approximately 76% of Americans cite money as a significant source of stress in their lives.
Remember friends, do the OPPOSITE of the above to relieve stress.
In closing, what’s essential is that we take action when experiencing stress. Avoid verbalizing our stressful experiences without taking one small step away from them. Doing so welcomes calmness in our lives. We become calm, focused, relaxed, and energized expressions of infinite possibilities.
We are not victims of stress, we are victors over stress. Tom Wendt