Stress is something that almost every person I speak to says they suffer from. Stress or being very busy is worn like a badge of honor in our society making it seem that stress = busy = success.. but it doesn’t have to be this way.
We are rushing to our jobs, waiting for the train, waiting for the traffic light to turn so we can make it to our meeting or we will get in trouble.. then we don’t make the light and get stuck behind a large truck and cannot pass. Then we spill our drink all over your shirt before arriving and wanting to either scream or crawl into a hole for the rest of eternity.. AHHH!
This used to be my life. I have learned that rushing, putting unnecessary stress on your body can cause much more harm than you might think.
I suffered from unneeded stress ever since before college and looking back, I would feel so drained at the end of the day. I would feel exhausted and almost in tears due to the pressure I would feel every day. I was very hard on myself and knew I could always do better and knew I could have done things differently.
If only I could do things faster, get more work done, feel like I was being appreciated, then I would feel better. I thought all of these external reasons were why I was feeling stressed. But they were not.
The truth is, you will always have these pressures from life. We will always have stressors from work or things we need to accomplish. Personal pressures to do as much as possible. But, what if I told you none of these pressures what causes your unneeded stress?
That is correct, these are not what cause your stress. YOU are what causes your stress! Thinking about this like your stress is on a teeter-totter. If something is too much for you, your response is immediately, RUN! The teeter-totter moves all the way to one side leaving you out of balance.
So if something is causing us to feel stressed, how can we handle things differently?
For example, being stopped at a red light when you are late for work, you immediately start to feel your heart beat faster and cortisol levels begin to rise. Instead, when you know you are late, remembering that there really isn’t anything you can do about being late in the present moment. All you really can do is learn to notice the sensation or reaction begin to happen and stopping those feelings right in its tracks! But why is it so important to stop this stress from reacting in our bodies?
Stress can cause problems in many parts of your body and system including:
- Headaches or Migraines
- Weakened Immune System
- Brain Fog
- Risk or Heart attack
- High Blood Sugar
- High Blood Pressure
- Weight Gain
- Fertility Issues
- Missed Periods
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Digestive Issues
After learning that this many issues can be caused just from chronic stress, I knew I was out of control with my own stress reactions. I didn’t know how I would change but knew there were other things people have done that have been proven to help. I gathered the best ways to control your stress below!
1. You can breathe. Take deep breaths in for 4-counts 1, 2, 3, 4, pause for a moment and breathe out for 8 counts. Our reaction to situations are what keeps us either in flight or fight mode, or in neutral.
The whole idea is to keep your feelings in neutral. This does not mean you care less about your job. This does not mean you are going to be lazy for not having these stressors in your life. It means you can take control of your life instead of being effected by the external stressors.
Going a step further…
If you are still feeling these stressors instead of breathing through these stressful situations, you may need to start with a new routine that helps you notice where your stress is coming from.
2. At night, begin to journal. Write down the moments that are feeling stressful to you. Next, write down solutions to these issues instead of keeping things bottled up. This will also result in awareness surrounding your stressors before they happen again.
3. Exercise! Having an exercise routine throughout your week or at least 3-4x a week can help you manage your stress. Dopamine levels will also cause your stress to not be as effected as they would have been if exercising was not occurring.
4. Learning to manage anxiety. Along with stress, anxiety can creep up on almost every person in the Wester world. This can be an amazing thing to learn to control and speaking with your doctor, therapist, or close friends can all be a great place to begin.
I used to suffer from panic attacks and know I am not the only person that has these issues. Know you are not alone and getting the help you need does not make you crazy! It makes you strong and courageous. If you are not ready to speak with someone, speak with yourself. Ask yourself what spikes your anxiety and write down solutions that can be put in place to help yourself. Remember, you are not anxiety and you can learn to control this when you are ready!
5. Meditation – Learning to meditate can be strange for those who have not done so before. Meditation is something that has existed for many years and is still practiced in many countries like India, China, Japan, Laos and more. Begin with 5 minutes and build up from there!
Sitting in silence and creating a safe space for your mind to take a break can be the most transformative moment in your life but getting past the strangeness of meditation can be an even bigger roadblock. It is not that weird once you own it and realize it helps to stay present and keep your stress controlled.
I like this Youtube video to start!
There are many more things that can reduce the reaction to stress in your life but these will be an excellent start. Remember that it will not be easy at first since reacting has always been your default mode. Be kind to yourself and give it a try for a few weeks to truly get used to the sensation of not reacting like before!
If you enjoyed reading this and want to chat more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional questions or just to chat with me!