STRESS – we have all felt it from time to time. STRESS – we have all heard others complain about it. STRESS – an all-encompassing descriptor of anything in life that causes us to want to run, hide, scream, or smack someone. STRESS – What do we do about it?????
I believe the place to begin is to define stress. Stress is usually used as a “bad” word, but not all stressors are bad. Sometimes the stress of a deadline at work or school is the precise motivation needed in order to complete a project. Sometimes stress pushes us to move out of our comfort zone (or, rather, sometimes moving out of our comfort zone, even in healthy ways, causes stress). Stress can also be frustrating, depressing and debilitating. Therefore, I think it is critical to make the distinction between healthy and unhealthy stress.
What is HEALTHY STRESS???
- Feeling pressure to meet a deadline at work or school.
- Wanting to be the best parent and evaluating your performance for improvement.
- Pushing yourself to achieve your highest potential.
- Arguing with your children when you apply a consequence for their bad choices.
What is UNHEALTHY STRESS???
- Overextending your obligations to the point that you are not able to properly care for yourself (i.e.: lost sleep).
- Constant bickering at home or work that goes unresolved over a period of time.
- Internalizing problems and not allowing yourself an outlet to express frustration, fear, anger and sadness.
- Constant worry about your child who has cycled out of control.
- Heart palpitations
- Lost sleep
- Heightened emotions
- Emotional lability
- Panic/ Anxiety
Naming our stressors is the first critical step in self-care. The next step is knowing what to do about them. First of all, I believe it is important that you determine whether your stressors are healthy or unhealthy. If they are healthy stressors, perhaps all you need to do is embrace them. If your stressors are not healthy for you, then you need to work to eliminate them or provide yourself with healthy outlets to release all of your emotions that end up stuffed inside of you as a result of the stress. These stuffed emotions are what cause the aforementioned symptoms. As the stuffed emotions can be released, the emotions should also subside.
Stress- Relieving Activities:
- Blowing bubbles
- Taking a bubble bath
- Drinking a hot cup of coffee.
- Coloring in a coloring book (even if you are 62!!!)
- Surfing the Internet
- Calling a friend
- Knitting or Sewing
- Playing a musical instrument
- Listening to music
- Taking a walk
- Running on the beach
- Petting an animal
- Eating ice cream
Next time you begin to feel the effects of stress in your life, slow down for a moment and see if you can take a breath and engage in a stress-relieving activity. Your life and your health are too valuable not to.
Today, 342 days ’til 40 I will remind myself that very little stress is worth the impact it has on my emotional and physical health. I will strive to appropriately reduce the stressors in my life so that the life I do live evolves into healthier tomorrows.
*** Addendum: So many of my readers gave more wonderful suggestions on how to cope with stress, that I wanted to include them in my posting – thank you to the following readers and their comments!!!
- Ritarivera wrote that blogging is a great stress relief (of course, why did I not write this????) – Richman22 agreed with her!
- Brittany recommended using yoga and cookies as stress relief (mmmm cookies!)
- Hricjd mentioned planting a garden as a way to relieve stress (yes, watching things grow – new life – is AMAZING for stress relief!)
- Forkmyfood talked about using the gym and sauna as stress relief (yes, after a good work out and sauna your body can be so physically relaxed!!!!)
Additionally, Tomrickhuss added a very important insight – he said that we ned to remember that pressure is better than stress and he reminded is that pressure turns coal into diamonds!
Great insight from you all!!! THANK YOU!!!!!
Glen Leach - Questioning Evangelical
March 16, 2012 at 00:09
I’m pretty bad at managing my stress levels but I think I have grown better over the last few years using a few of the strategies you suggest! I love healthy stress, it is growth-giving, but there is a very fine line for me between healthy and unhealthy stress… I’m still learning where the heck that line is!!
March 17, 2012 at 15:02
Thank you for your comment! Good for you that you are applying strategies to manage your stress. I agree with you that the line between healthy and unhealthy stress is indeed a very fine line and sometimes I think we have to balance it as though we are walking a tightrope! I hope that you find that balance in your life! 🙂
March 16, 2012 at 00:21
That’s why I am getting back to a basic way of life…homesteading.. less stress… AMEN !!
March 17, 2012 at 15:05
Wow, Nortie! Good for you – I look forward to hearing more about your homesteading adventures!
March 16, 2012 at 00:41
Brilliant article, I do not pretend to understand stress, but have plenty of experiance making my self suffer from it.
March 17, 2012 at 15:06
Yes, Stuart, I think this is often the case! The key is to eventually figure out how to lessen that suffering!!!! 🙂
March 16, 2012 at 00:50
March 16, 2012 at 01:27
“Wanting to be the best parent and evaluating your performance for improvement.”
AMEN. Although my biggest stress is Diabetes and all of its aspect, parenting seems to be a close second!
March 17, 2012 at 15:06
Yes, I think parenting is one of the biggest stressors for many of us!!!! 🙂
March 16, 2012 at 01:51
thanks for viewing and liking a recent post of mine! You blog looks interesting and your daughter sounds like mine” Mom, i can’t belive you ….fill in the blank”. Hope to see you again soon!
March 16, 2012 at 05:13
i really liked how you distinguished between healthy and unhealthy stress. great to keep in mind!
March 18, 2012 at 12:02
March 16, 2012 at 17:16
you forgot “blogging” as a stress-reliever for us writers – that’s really the ONLY cure! 🙂 – rita
March 17, 2012 at 15:07
You are so correct and I am going to add an addendum to this post giving you credit!!! 🙂
March 16, 2012 at 17:41
There are some people such as me who don’t even notice the stress they are under, until a certain sick feeling comes over them
March 17, 2012 at 15:08
Hi Depression Voyage,
What you mention is so very true! Often we are so caught up in our stress that we do not even realize it until our body yells STOP! Hopefully we can catch the stress before we reach that point!
March 16, 2012 at 18:14
Great reminders! I look forward to perusing through the rest of your blog. Thanks for coming by my place.
March 16, 2012 at 18:18
I loved turning 40–it felt like I finally knew who I was and where I wanted to go. Hopefully in the next months you will find your groove. The unexamined life isn’t worth living according to Socrates.
March 17, 2012 at 15:08
March 16, 2012 at 21:18
I like how you define the good stress and the bad stress. I’ve taken up blogging as ritarivera mentioned, as a stress reliever, I had to give up ice cream; though it was a stress reliever, it was causing me to gain too much weight, plus all of that sugar, fat, and the carbs. Now I’m stressing about my next doctor visit. 🙂
March 17, 2012 at 15:10
I must confess, I also gave up ice-cream as stress relief (Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby was my favorite!) I also found it was not so good for my physical health, even though I loved it as mental health stress relief. Now I have taken to riding my bike – definitely not the same as ice cream, but at least I won’t fear the doctor!!! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 02:37
Oh yea, Ben and Jerry’s, my favorite. Chubby Hubby is an awesome flavor!
Casey @ Raising Smart Girls
March 16, 2012 at 21:43
Stress just doesn’t temporarily affect us, but it does permanent damage too.
Many people with thyroid disease, have it because accumulated stress triggers immune responses to attack the body.
I read up about this in The Thyroid Solution. Our bodies were not designed to withstand chronic high levels of stress.
“You will learn that your genes can make you susceptible to an immune attack on the thyroid resulting in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (the most common cause of underactive thyroid) and Graves’ disease (the most common cause of overactive thyroid). However, environmental factors can tip the scale. What you eat, antioxidants, stress, radiation, pollution, and other environmental factors are major culprits in the occurrence of autoimmune thyroid disorders. Stress can trigger thyroid imbalance, and thyroid imbalance can keep you from dealing with stress effectively. The Thyroid Solution also covers the treatment choices that help you reach mind and body wellness. Once your brain and body have been deprived of thyroid hormone or overtaxed with excess thyroid hormone, you may continue to suffer from a wide range of symptoms such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, and impaired cognition. The Thyroid Solution provides practical, conventional, and holistic approaches to cure these lingering effects. The book provides you with a comprehensive mind-body treatment program that helps you heal your spirit and body.”
Stress can impair you over the long haul, not just be a temporary annoyance.
March 17, 2012 at 15:11
Thanks, Casey for your very informative comment! This is very important to know! The effects of stress on our bodies is very far-reaching and it is so important for us to take care of ourselves!
March 16, 2012 at 22:15
I definitely experience stress all too often, but I do handle it much better than I used to. Yoga helps..so do cookies.
March 17, 2012 at 15:12
Thanks, Brittany! I agree with you and am going to amend my post to include your suggestions, with credit to you!!! 🙂
March 16, 2012 at 23:11
Great post! 🙂
I agree we all need to manage our stress better. Pressure’s better. It’s what turns coal into diamonds.
A little goes a long way.
Take care x
March 17, 2012 at 15:14
Tom, what a great comment! You are so right! Pressure can produce wonderful things and stress breaks us apart. I LOVE the diamond analogy! Thanks so much!
March 16, 2012 at 23:37
Plant a carefree garden. That is leave your stress outside the garden gate. And when you leave the garden forget to pick up ( again ) those stresses you left behind.
You are never too old to set those dandelion seeds adrift !
March 17, 2012 at 15:14
Thanks so much, hricjd! I agree with you completely and am going to amend my post with a credit to you! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 13:21
Amen hricjd! Love my garden time. And thanks for bringing back memories of blowing dandelion seeds.
March 17, 2012 at 00:02
Lately, the gym and sauna/steam room have been my ways of relaxing. It took several days before I could relax. But now, it’s my safe haven.:)
March 17, 2012 at 15:15
Thank you, forkmyfood! I agree with you completely and am going to add your suggestions, with credit to you, in my post! 🙂
March 19, 2012 at 21:54
thanks ! 🙂
March 17, 2012 at 02:05
I definitely agree that there’s a difference between a stressor and a challenge. A lot of the times, we lump anything and everything that is unpleasant under stress. Thanks for bringing up some great points and for providing great tips on how to de-stress.
Please check out my post on the connection between narcissism and stress! http://getphyt.org/2012/01/26/sexy-and-i-know-it/
I’d love to hear what you think about it!
getPHYT, Exercise Your Mind.
March 17, 2012 at 15:17
Wow, what a great post! I also wrote on narcissism recently on day 367: https://400daystil40.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/367-days-til-40-illusions-of-grandeour/#more-302 Thank yo so much for stopping by and for sharing your post!!!!! 🙂
March 17, 2012 at 22:08
Awesome post! I’d really appreciate it if you could follow my blog!
March 17, 2012 at 22:09
Thanks, I look forward to us learning from each other!
March 17, 2012 at 10:56
I heard a long time ago that a study was actually done proving that simply petting an animal can directly ease the physical symptoms associated with stress, like blood pressure, heart rate etc…
I wonder if they’ve done any more studies like that. Your recommendation to pet an animal reminded me of it.
March 17, 2012 at 15:19
Thanks, Michal for your insight! I have also read that – I also know that research shows people live longer when they own pets! I cannot imagine life without my cats – my house would be cleaner, but my heart would be emptier! 🙂
March 17, 2012 at 22:35
I found you. Thanks for liking my poem – ‘smile baby smile’. Wow. What an awesome blog you write. Very insightful, very practical. Love this one on stress. I needed to read this.
March 17, 2012 at 22:36
Thanks, Selasie! I look forward to reading more of your writing! 🙂 Thanks for the compliment! 😉
March 18, 2012 at 02:24
As always, practical insight and a roadmap out of the wwilderness. Job well done.
March 18, 2012 at 12:03
Why thank you!!! 🙂
Mainly Word Free
March 18, 2012 at 17:45
Great advice! I’ve found that just stepping back and taking a few deep breaths helps and you can do it anywhere!
March 18, 2012 at 17:46
Great point!!! 🙂 Thanks for your comment!
March 19, 2012 at 03:30
Wonderful post and thoughtful recommendations! 🙂
March 19, 2012 at 07:28
Thank you, Kathryningrid!
March 20, 2012 at 20:32
In my case, stress presented itself into intense migraines that forced my body to stop and finally listen.
March 20, 2012 at 21:59
Oh no, how awful! I know of quite a few people who ended up with headaches or migraines due to stress.. not fun at all – I hope that you were able to stop, re-evaluate, and work towards a lifestyle that is gentler on yourself. Thanks for stopping by the blog! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 22:09
Yes, migraines were my body’s way of forcing me to stop and re-evaluate my life. And I am glad for it. Stress could have given me a stroke or an aneurism or killed me. All this as I was turning 40 by the way…