STRESS is the topic today. This subject has been weighing on my mind (no pun intended) and I thought I would do some research and reflection. What causes stress? It’s different for everyone. How do we eliminate and/or handle stress? I suppose, solutions are unique to the individual and situation. The scary thing is how much stress can effect our lives, health and functionality.
According to WebMD, “Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked and stress-related tension builds. Stress that continues without relief — can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping.”
If you think that glass of wine is helping…think again. “Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try and relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems.”
Avoidance prolongs the inevitable. “Denial is a defense mechanism that people use when they cannot handle or don’t want to deal with reality. Stress is one of the results of denial left untreated. Problems tend to mount and build, resulting in even more challenges that demand attention.” Signs of stress denial: Anger, Depression, Immaturity, Hypertension, Addiction.
Worry & Confrontation: Stress isn’t necessarily self-centered. For a loved one, stress can come as a result of worry. Goodness knows I caused a few grey hairs on my mother’s head. “Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that people who love us are also affected by these illnesses and may find it difficult to understand what’s happening. They want to help, but just don’t know what to do.” According to PhycCentral.com, there are right and wrong ways to approach a distressed loved one. WRONG: Confronting the sufferer with their illness or imposing your knowledge adds pressure causing them to retreat further into the “funk”. RIGHT: Always offering love and support.
Unwind the mind! There seem to be countless ways to handle or eliminate stress or anxiety and cause determines response. For example, an abusive relationship isn’t going to become less stressful by doing yoga. On the flip-side, yoga could be a fantastic solution for someone juggling a hectic schedule. So what works best for you? I find peace in music, photos, God’s word, talking to my family or taking deep breaths.
Positive coping responses
Listening to music
Playing with a pet
Laughing or crying
Going out with a friend (shopping, movie, dining)
Taking a bath or shower
Writing, painting, or doing other creative activities
Praying or going to church
Exercising or getting outdoors to enjoy nature
Discussing situations with a spouse or close friend
Gardening or making home repairs
Practicing deep breathing, meditation, or muscle relaxation
Making and following through with an action plan to solve your problems.
Seeking counseling if you continue to struggle with stress.
It doesn’t cost anything to be kind. It’s easy to add to stress by speaking out of emotion. We are more likely to regret the things we say than the things we don’t say. Take time to relax, pray and re-evaluate. By unwinding, we may find there is a simple solution, or the problem was caused by misunderstanding. Sometimes the best solution is to let it go, or say nothing at all.
Final note: If you or a loved one struggles with chronic stress, I encourage you to try some of these “unwinding” techniques, consult a spiritual mentor or discuss with a physician. Do not let this debilitating ailment take control. Being proactive about stress could prevent more than what we see on the surface.