We finish up this month’s discussions on health with a favorite topic for everyone: stress. Most of us live with it on a daily basis, trying to avoid the things that cause bumps in the road. No one likes to be stressed, and as it turns out stress actually contributes to a lot of our health problems, so we have very good reason to dislike it. However, while we may recognize the negative effects that stress has on our lives, few of us actually do anything about it. Let’s change that!
First, stress is mental. In most cases how stressed we get is a choice. We all react differently to things that happen, but some of us react in a way that completely blows the initial stress out of proportion and as a result greatly increases the stress we experience, and the damage to our health. If we were more prepared mentally for the challenges we’ll face and how to deal with them mentally we’d be less stressed. I’m not suggesting we practice being stressed more often, just learn better ways of dealing with typical life situations we find ourselves in and generally learning to think and believe more positively.
Second, dealing with stress is both mental and physical. Stress sets in motion an amazing chemical reaction throughout our bodies in addition to the freak-out our minds go through. The best ways to deal with it on a physical level and combat the effects on a regular basis are physical activity like running, walking, yoga or boxing, and other things like massages, relaxing scents, acupuncture, Bach remedies, Reiki and other similar practices. Working through the stress on a physical level will often help you get enough distance and perspective that you’ll be able to think through the situation much clearer.
Finally, stress should not be dealt with alone. We’re in a world with many other amazing people, people who can help us learn to forgive ourselves, deal with the stress we’ve kept in our lives and embrace what the future holds with less fear. We can work with coaches, pastors, our partners and friends to learn techniques and get support when we deal with stressful situations.
The thing to remember here is not that stress can necessarily be avoided, but that we’ve got lots of room to improve how we handle the stresses that come into our lives. How do you handle stress?