Stress. It is the mental and emotional strain caused by demanding situations and it has the power to make everything in your life harder. In the past it guided our fight or flight response in life or death situations. It still does but now our world has changed, and we feel the effects of stress every day. In small doses it’s not a problem, but chronic stress is becoming more and more of an issue. We have increased responsibilities, time constraints, and added pressure from friends, family and colleagues. We are constricted by laws, rules, cultural norms, expectations and governing bodies. There is so much pressure on us that it’s amazing we don’t just explode. All of this pressure has a negative effect on you.
It affects your body and your health.
I know your health is important to you. Mine sure as heck is to me. So just to drive the point home of how bad stress is for you here is a quick list of all the effects of chronic stress.
- Heart Attack
- Stomach Ache
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Immune deficiencies
- High Blood Pressure
- Irregular Menstrual Cycle
There are so many more things and these are just the effects it has on you. But you’re not the only one your stress has an effect on.
Stress affects everyone around you.
When you’re stressed you become much more irritable. Little things bother you. You get emotional and overreact to things it doesn’t make sense to overreact about. While this can be attributed to the stress, this still affects your relationships. It is often people who are the target of your irritability, and people don’t like that. If you’re stressed all the time you will drive those people away. And nobody wants that. We all want to see the regular happy person that’s buried underneath all that stress. So let’s find out how to help.
So how do you combat stress?
Everyone needs a strategy. I personally like to exercise when I’m stressed because it helps me focus my mind on something else, something engaging that can distract me from my stress and help me relax. But everyone has a different strategy. The way I see it you have two major options to choose from. You can either avoid the stress, which is not always possible so this is not the ideal solution, or you can alter your reaction to the stress. When you’re stressed it is extremely easy to get angry and frustrated with everything, that’s our natural reaction after all. But that’s not really helpful. If we get angry and frustrated all we’re going to accomplish is to make ourselves more angry and frustrated. That’s because when we lose our temper we take shortcuts, we get irritated, it distracts us and we cause more problems because we’re acting more aggressive.
Take a step back.
Until you separate yourself from the stressful situation you will never be able to de-stress. You need to give your mind time to breathe. For me I prefer to exercise, but for you maybe it’s different. Find something to occupy your mind that is constructive and helpful in your everyday life and your killing two birds with one stone. You’re building a healthier lifestyle and you’re dealing more effectively with your stress.
Change how you view the problem.
It can’t be a problem if you don’t see it as a problem. Here’s an example that I can relate to. Maybe you can hear the faucet dripping and it is absolutely driving you insane. You can’t or don’t know how to stop it and it’s been going for hours. You can’t get rid of the sound so have fun with it. Since I like to be silly I made a beat out of the sound of the drops in my head into something I liked. Then every time I heard the faucet dripping after that I heard the beat I made up in my head and it made me feel happy instead of miserable. Reframe the problem. Make a solution out of it.
Adjust your diet.
What you eat can also contribute to stress. Caffeine, sugar, alcohol and drugs are all things that produce a temporary high and end with a crash that can disrupt your mood and behavior. Cutting back on any or all of these can have a major impact.
You have to find out which strategy works for you. This is a bit of trial and error and it can take time. Take the time and put in the effort. And most importantly, have a positive attitude. If you’re negative you’re focusing on the problem but if you’re being positive you’re focusing on the solution. Having a positive attitude is beyond helpful. Find what works for you. Then do it.
How do you cope with stress? If you have any helpful hints and strategies, be sure to share them in the comments!