#Stress #Wellness #MentalWellness #Health #StressManagement
I’ve heard this question many times: “How does stress really influence my wellbeing?” Have a look at the image above. It clearly shows you how stress (and anxiety) can influence your body and mind.
This is old news for most wellness practitioners and, perhaps, for the public. But the problem is that we have become so used to being stressed, that we do not even notice it anymore. We have such busy lives, that, once stress affects you physically, you immediately have treatment to alleviate the symptoms just so that you can continue your very stressful life.
Stress builds up and eventually you will ‘crack’ under pressure. How often have you noticed that something meaningless can totally frazzle you? Something that, if it happened on another day, would not have had the same influence on you. You become unglued and the influence of your stress starts to reach further than yourself. It permeates your relationships, your lifestyle and consumes your identity. Does it sound far-fetched? It is not, believe me. Why do you think that many people feel confused and without purpose anymore? Why do people feel helpless and out of control?
Stress is a symptom of our times and cannot be avoided. We all have stress in our lives, and while some people can deal with it beautifully, others simply crumble beneath its onslaught. Dealing with stress is never easy, but there are ways that you can bring subtle changes in order to minimize its impact on your everyday life and your overall health. One also needs to remember that moderate stress is essential if you want to thrive. Stress can be positively channeled and used as a means to fuel our motivational strategies.
If you are suffering the ill effects of badly managed stress, you may want to take note of these 7 ways that mentally strong people use to deal with stress in their lives [Morin:2015].
They accept that stress is part of life. Unfortunately both good and bad stress is a reality we need to live with. The positive side to this is, that once you expect stress, you can also prepare for it. By taking care of your physical health and by preparing mentally for life and its challenges, you will be stronger and more likely to deal efficiently with challenging stressors.
They keep problems in proper perspective. Human beings have a default mindset that often exaggerate circumstances. We need to look at the bigger picture and see a specific problem within the bigger scheme of things.
They take care of their physical health. No matter how you try to shy away from it, the fact remains that exercise and healthy eating habits pay off. A warrior never go to war without his armor. You need to see your physical body as the armor with which you enter life’s battlefield every day. Your armor must be strong enough to withstand the enemy, which in this case is stressful situations. Weak armor will simply crumble and you will be unable to cope.
They choose healthy coping skills. We live in a society that has become so comfortable in seeking the easy way out. Instead of dealing with issues, many people will turn to ‘quick-fix ideas’. To cope with stress you will therefore find that many turn to alcohol or drug abuse, many become violent or seek other vices that endanger themselves or others. This is all a way to escape the reality of everyday life. People with a healthy mental attitude will prefer to channel the ‘negative’ emotions caused by stress into alternative activities, something that still allows for these feelings to exist, while giving them a mental and physical break from the impact stress may have. Hiking in nature, hobbies, volunteering, yoga, meditation and even an evening walk with your dog may relieve the symptoms of stress and clear your mind.
They balance social activity with solitude. Many times people feel like they want to avoid stress altogether, then they can either cram their schedules with activities in order to avoid dealing with the real problem or they can withdraw from society in an effort to ignore the problem and avoid confrontation. The secret is balance. Like with anything in life, stress is caused by mental overload. If you work too much or socialize too much, you get stressed and anxious. Even when you are alone, you can become stressed when your thoughts turn to work that needs doing or problems that need solving. Having a healthy support system is important and cultivating good relationships essential, but we need not socialize constantly. We need alone time to gather our thoughts, to meditate and to take care of ourselves.
They acknowledge their choices. We have the luxury of choice. We choose how we live, what we do and when we do it. Often, though, we tend to blame circumstances for certain stressful issues and while some events may be out of our control, we can still choose how we deal with them. Having a healthy attitude towards life means that you take responsibility for your behavior at all times. If you know you will not be able to deal with something, learn to say ‘no’ and accept it. Don’t burden yourself with cares and worries because of your choice, let it go. If you accept a challenge, if you choose ‘yes’, take responsibility for that and understand that no one is to blame but yourself.
They look for the silver lining. I heard a beautiful sentiment the other day: ‘If things have not worked out yet, it is not the end’. When you feel worn out by stress in life, don’t falter, don’t lose hope, this is NOT the end yet! Life is a journey and we have many experiences along the way. Develop a sunny attitude, be positive, despite how things are going at the moment. There is ALWAYS a bright side to everything, you just need to look for it.
It may seem tough at first, but once you’ve managed to integrate these tips as part of your life, things will indeed get easier. The point is, one should never lose sight of who you are, where you are, what your goals are. Everything in life needs to be evaluated in that manner, even something simple like an argument with a colleague. If you disagree with a co-worker about something, remember who you are, what your basic moral values are. These will help you to NOT say or do things that you may later regret. Where you are – what was your contribution to this argument? What is your position in this ‘fight’? What your goals are – what can YOU do to resolve this issue?
Once we take responsibility to manage our own stress, we will be able to live more balanced lives. We will, once again, be able to BREATHE.
MORIN, Amy. 2015. 7 Ways mentally strong people deal with stress. Psychology Today – bit.ly/1g9QVAU
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