The constant frenzy of life today is demanding and at times quite overwhelming. Our culture is fast paced and constantly engaged. This type of life momentum, although productive and a sign of the times, encourages stress. Stress is a popular topic that is extensively discussed within the areas of self-help and self-care. By and large, it is one of the most unpleasant realities of living in today’s progressive times.
But although most people share in the common experience of stress, is it truly understood? Do people acknowledge its propensity for negative effects on their well-being? Consider the information below and contemplate stress in your own life.
Stress, in broad terms, can be understood as a person’s response to change or threat. These responses can be both physical and psychological. Contrary to popular belief, stress is not always negative. For example, the fight or flight response you have when presented with a threatening situation is useful and necessary. Your body temporarily experiences a release of chemicals that cause an adrenaline rush, heightened concentration, and increased energy and agility. These responses aid your attempt to escape the threat. Once the threat has passed, your body functions return to normal. This process is like a natural defense system and is an instinctive part of survival.
What makes stress a problem is when your body runs on this defense system for longer than nature intended. Dealing with continuous life turmoil such as lack of job satisfaction, financial trouble, failed relationships, and family dysfunction means that your body spends sustained time in fight or flight mode. If you do not manage or cope with these types of situations, you will continually experience stress. Since your body has to expend high levels of energy in order to continue fight or flight, your energy for other life tasks wanes. You then become tired, irritable, ill, and unable to operate healthfully. This extended state of flux and lack of crucial self-care is what puts your well-being in dire jeopardy.
DID YOU KNOW?
· Stress can impair most all your bodily functions including digestion, memory, and sleep patterns.
· Stress can lead to obesity, heart disease, and depression.
· Stress can worsen skin conditions such as acne and eczema and can provoke fever blisters or other skin problems.
· Stress can impair your immune system causing flare-ups in diseases or an increase in illnesses.
AND THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OF UNRESOLVED STRESS IN YOUR LIFE!
So, what can you do to minimize the consequences of stress and improve your health? Here are some tips.
1. Acknowledge it. Identify the stressful situations weighing on you.
2. Keep it in perspective. Are there some things you can let go? Are the stressful situations really as bad as they seem?
3. Meditate and pray. Ask God to help you deal with your problems.
4. Exercise. Get your heart rate pumping and let endorphins take over.
5. Talk it out. Consult a relative or friend. Seek professional help for issues too big to handle on your own.
6. Write about it. Start a journal putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper.
7. Draw. Let your creative flow release pent up energy and tension.
8. Listen to music. Allow the rhythms and melodies to clear your mind.
9. Discover an outlet…riding horses, hiking, gardening, reading, fixing cars.
10. Surround yourself with support. Join a Bible study, find a support group, or take off for a guy’s weekend with friends.
This list is in no way complete…the key is finding something that works for you. You need to find a positive coping skill that you can stick with and incorporate into a daily life management plan. As you begin to adapt to and cope with stress, you will begin to experience a much healthier well-being! So, make wellness a priority and take steps to manage stress TODAY!