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  • Writer's pictureMarianne Crooch

Stressed?

Updated: Oct 16, 2022


Sometimes just hearing the word makes you want to stress, am I right? Or maybe you just roll your eyes because you are tired of hearing others complain about their stress levels.


We are bombarded with stress triggers every day. It’s part of the human conundrum. Stressing over the pandemic, our jobs, the kids, increased cost of living, the guy who cut us off on the road, paying bills, political fighting and even the possibility of war. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, though, that stresses us out. Sometimes the little stresses add up so that it feels like the sky is falling. Like, when you realize you forgot to buy more toothpaste yesterday. Now it's time to leave for work (which you are already running late for) and you have no way of brushing your teeth. Ugh!


But all that stress is not good for our physical and mental health.


Science Behind Stress


90+% of our health issues are born from stress according to a Clemson University study. That's not surprising.

Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system which is our “fight or flight” system. This ‘system’ was designed to keep us out of real danger. So when you’re being chased by a tiger or scared out of your wits in a Haunted House, your body goes into high alert. Your body is flooded with cortisol which increases the blood flow to your muscles (so you can run really fast), decreases the flow of blood to your skin (in case you get injured) and it also increases your heart rate (which allows us to be alert and focused). But staying on high alert for long periods of time can cause all kinds of issues like anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and inflammation in the body.


Too much Info? Maybe so, but it’s important to know the science behind the impact stress has on our bodies.


Coping with Stress


You may say ‘Well stress is part of our life, there is nothing we can do about it.’ Well, yes, stress is part of our lives but it's how we cope with it that determines our mind and body health.


Each person deals with stress differently. Sometimes it’s productive and other times not. Too often we choose something that does not serve us, like addictive behaviors or taking it out on someone we love. When we deal with stress it needs to be done productively; meaning it should BENEFIT both our body and mind.


There are so many ways to cope with and reduce stress. But we must WANT to work on it. Sometimes the easiest way out is to give in to the stress and wallow in our misery. It takes a lot of work and courage to actively work on finding the best way for YOU to manage your stress levels. That is the key here. Each person is different and so it’s not a ‘one size fits all’.


The courage is to try different options to find the one that works best for YOU. If one method doesn’t work then try another, and another and another until you find something that DOES help. A WARNING: Just don’t let the solution become addictive behavior.


Need some suggestions on how to reduce stress? Below I have provided a few suggestions that may help get you going.



Journaling

Don’t knock until you try it. Daily journaling, either first in the morning or before you retire at night, allows you to do a core dump on what’s bothering you. Scientific studies have shown that “core dumps” will allow your mind to get rid of the incessant chatter or at least reduce it to a manageable level. Wouldn’t you rather journal all the things you would like to say to your boss instead of actually saying it to your boss? Trust me, it will make YOU feel much better (and your boss will feel much better in the long run).


Meditation

I love meditation! Consistent daily meditation teaches your mind to settle, in other words it allows you to 'slow down your thoughts’. Consistency allows you to bring this ‘calmness’ into your daily life so you’re less reactive to your normal ‘triggers’. Don’t think you can meditate? Yes you can! Anyone can meditate. There are so many types of meditation to choose from that there is an option for everyone. More on that topic in the next month or so.


Exercise

This is something that you must WANT to do. If you feel like you are being forced to exercise it’s only going to add to your stress levels. Exercise is therapeutic because it raises your endorphin levels, which is the ‘feel good’ hormone. When you’re feeling really good you are less likely to be stressed over the little things. Of course, my preference is Yoga but there so many other choices!



Counseling

I can’t recommend counseling enough for those that struggle with regular stress or from past trauma. Talking through your stresses is actually a good thing since it allows you to get that stuff out your head, instead of holding it in. Trained counselors can also provide you with objective feedback and coping mechanisms that facilitate stress reduction. It is not a sign of weakness if you seek help. In fact, it shows you have the courage to do so.



Inspirational Influencers

I'm sure you are asking, what is this? And why do I need one? An Inspirational Influencer is someone who inspires or guides the actions of others. This influencer should be about positivity, gratitude, abundance and compassion. They should lift you up when you are feeling down, they should inspire you when you are stuck, they should provide a method or methods to bring harmony back to your life. That's it. Inspirational Influencers can be anyone; young, old, famous (or not), a friend, a spouse, clergy or your therapist. My favorite inspirational influencer is Gabby Bernstein. I have followed her for a number of years and she has gotten me some tough times. She’s not everyone’s cup of tea but there is someone out there for you. If you can't think of anyone that fits the bill, checkout YouTube, it has an abundance of possibilities. Something and someone will resonate with you.


There are so many other ways to help with stress including prayer, reducing caffeine, changing your environment, proper sleep, eating a balanced diet, gratitude journaling, volunteering for a cause, self-care and so on.


Which one will work for you? I can't tell you that but pick one and give it a whirl. If it doesn't seem to help, add another one or replace that one. It's all trial and error. That's what life is. We learn by trial and error.


Health is our #1 Priority


Our health is our wealth. Not money, possessions or fame. We only have one body for our whole lifetime. It's not like a purse that can be replaced with a new model every few years. It is your most prized possession, take care of it that way.


Love to you all and I hope that you find one thing to do this evening to bring some zen back into your life.

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