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While a study shows that HALF of Americans worry that stress is wrecking both their mental and physical health, only a few are doing anything about it. Then, when we actually DO something, far too often it’s entirely the wrong thing.
One in four Americans say they turn to food for comfort when feeling stressed. This leads, of course, to weight gain and opens the window for a host of physical ailments (high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease…). In the end, it actually causes MORE stress, not LESS.
25 percent turn to cigarettes for relief of frustration and anxiety. I don’t even have to tell you the medical hell that could lead to. And, of course, the stress doesn’t actually go anywhere. It’s there, behind the smoke screen.
Oh, what to do, what to do?!
1. Determine that you simply aren’t going to accept this way of life. My husband has always told our girls to be proactive rather than reactive – if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen. It isn’t going to come knocking on your bedroom door and it isn’t going to send you a text message.
Remember, life isn’t supposed to be one long anxiety attack or recurring stress. That’s not life, that’s getting in the way of life.
2. Get in touch with your feelings. Learn to recognize how you truly feel at any given time. This way, you can recognize just how often your body and mind seem to be waving the red stress flag. If it happens several times a week, you should look into relaxation therapy. That’s a fanchy schmancy phrase, but all it means is, “Chill thyself out!” This blog, our main website (TMFC), and other online resources are chock-full of tips and techniques. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you.
3. Learn to pace yourself and realize that there isn’t an S on your top. No one can do everything – attempting to just leaves you frazzled, frenzied, and frantic. Sometimes you just have to say, “Big whoop! I’ll get to it tomorrow.” (Don’t go telling your boss that, though, okay?) When you look at all the things that are stressing you out, you’ll be able to tell which ones are urgent, which ones can wait a while, and which ones aren’t worth your time.
4. Be sure that you aren’t borrowing worry or stress. If something hasn’t happened, don’t go borrowing trouble. You can only eat what’s on your plate, you know, not what’s on the stove…and certainly not what isn’t even in the kitchen.
Also, while it’s very hard – especially for parents – don’t take on other people’s lives or problems. Take care of your own, and realize that others have to do the same. I’m a mom, so I know what it feels like to watch someone you love more than your next breath do something that may not be perfect for them. But when you start stressing over and worrying about their life, you aren’t really living your own. Plus you’re just creating more stress, that could actually knock years off of that life! Besides, be honest, it really gets you nowhere – they’re going to make mistakes irregardless. The same way we’ve made mistakes while someone else fretted over us. We survived!
5. If something in particular is causing you a lot of grief – take action IMMEDIATELY. Even if the problem won’t vanish that very minute, the fact that you’re doing something will make you feel 100 percent better. Feeling overweight? Take a 20-30 minute walk, go to the store and buy a big case of bottled water, do 50 push ups….okay, me neither, make it 25….10?
6. Stress festers in mess and chaos – but when things are tidier, it seems to have a harder time settling in. Is your desk cluttered? Stop what you’re doing and start in on it. Stress also loves inactivity – an inactive mind is an invitation to both stress and anxiety. See the lovely dog at the top of the post? If you see yourself in her positioning – just kind of lying down, giving up, and throwing yourself at life’s mercy – you’re asking for trouble with a capital stress!
Whatever you do, make sure you let stress know that it isn’t welcome in your life. For the love of all that’s calm and right, don’t put out the welcome mat.
7. If your quality of life is being reduced by stress, and you’ve tried to deal with it on your own to no avail – find someone to talk to. Sometimes just talking things out will make a world of difference. Best of all, you don’t always have to look far to find someone – very often, a member of your own family can be the best person to open up to. They know you and they know your life – they can be a great comfort and help.
8. Watch your mouth! I’m convinced that a lot of our emotions are cemented by our own words. We give them more power when we say, “I’m depressed…” (or stressed or overwhelmed, etc.) Instead, try saying “I’m so through with feeling __________. I deserve better and today’s the day I start making it happen!”
Just. Do. Something. Stress is serious, and you need to get serious about getting it out of your life. Then, and only then, can you go back to living life as it was meant to be lived.
Make each moment count double,