‘You can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside’.
Wayne Dyer - American Philosopher and Author
If you are experiencing the symptoms of stress, and if you have consulted your doctor to ensure that your symptoms are not present because of some obvious physical problem, then you must tackle them.
There is no option but to this if you want your body to continue to work well. Stress that is not treated and removed will ultimately make you sick, really sick as in suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity or long-term chronic conditions such as diabetes.
We are going to look at a number of key solutions to chronic stress and outline some techniques that will help you restore balance to your life and wellness to your body.
1. Getting to the root of the stress itself
The biggest problem in eliminating excess stress from our lives is that, as much as we would like to, we just cannot snap our fingers and make all our problems go away. Life doesn’t work like that.
If you are a parent dealing with a chronically ill child or spouse, for example, you cannot just throw up your hands and say you can’t do it anymore. Quitting is not an option for life’s toughest choices.
Likewise, if you hate your job and your boss but you live in an area where work is scarce and adequate pay a rare thing, you can rarely just walk away from the work you have.
If solutions were easy to come by, you would have already used them. But they’re not and that’s why you’re stressed.
You cannot ever completely control your environment and eliminate all stress. Even if you secure yourself in a lovely home by the beach and shut out world, you are still subject to power outages and storm surges. Stress will find you.
What you can do is alter your attitude towards stress.
2. Practicing mindfulness
Mindfulness is all about living in the moment. When you focus too much of your energy on what has happened in the past or what might occur in the future, you will heighten your stress and hurt yourself in the long run.
Instead, for as much as you can, concentrate on where you are in your life at this time, on this day, in this hour, and in this minute.
Be aware of the world around you. Instead of focusing your thoughts on your cares and worries inside, look out to the great expanse and seek inspiration and courage to continue with your own quest.
You don’t have to hike to the mountains of Nepal or consult a guru or relinquish all your worldly goods and live like a hermit to be mindful. Every day, more and more ordinary people living ordinary lives in cities all over the world are practicing mindfulness.
Just stop what you are doing for a moment and breathe deeply five times. Close your eyes a minute if it helps you to concentrate. Now open them and look at the world around you. Is the sun shining or is it pouring rain? Is the work you are doing something you know how to do and does it in some way add value to your life, even if that value is remuneration for its completion? Does your body hurt or are you comfortable?
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Now that you are conscious of this moment, try for a few seconds to think of nothing at all. It is not an easy exercise. Slowly close down all the conflicting and worrisome thoughts in your head and fill it up with emptiness, even for a few seconds.
Read about mindfulness and practice it in your own way. It takes some time, but before long when you feel waves of stress rising within you, you will learn to walk to your private place for just a moment, breathe deeply, and restore your peace with this world in this place on this day.
You will learn to relax and rise above the circle of thoughts that buzz through your head, trying to make you lose control and succumb to stress. Your breath is your anchor. Let it bring you down from the dizzying cycle of worries to the reality that right now, in this moment, you are fine.
Teach your children awareness of time and place and moments in life and help them learn the skills to find peaceful moments.
3. Increase your physical activity.
Our brains are very much like a well-stocked car parts department. Everything is there, but unless there is a good system so items can be brought to the front quickly when needed, it is inefficient. You will never get the service and response that you need.
To fight stress, your body can produce serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that helps fight depression, lethargy and overall bad moods. But if you don’t move, it just stays on the back shelf, taking up space and being essentially useless.
When you go out and exercise, its levels increase. You feel better, more in control and happier, even though no actual circumstances in your life have changed. All that mattered is you moved off the couch or away from your computer.
As tough as it sounds, one way to become more physically active in your life and lower your stress is to turn off your television, phone etc. and go out and exercise.