Stress is part of our everyday lives. A certain amount of stress or tension is healthy and necessary for everyone. Without it, special events would lose their excitement, jobs would be done without enthusiasm, relationships would be dull. But the time may come when stress increases to the point of ‘strain’. This can make it difficult to think straight, to control our emotions and can, in time, affect our physical well-being.
Unemployment and job search can cause prolonged stress. The most important thing to remember is that many daily situations aren’t inherently stressful. Stress can be either positive or negative, it is we who choose the role stress will play in our day. Each of us has the power inside to decide how to interpret stressful events. What may cause severe stress for one person may cause mild or no stress to another. Stress is like relatives; nearly all of us have some. Nobody has the same relatives; nobody has the same stress. Some stresses, like some relatives are more helpful than others, and while we can’t eliminate stress – to do so would make life pretty boring – it would be nice to control it when it drops in for dinner.
In order to control the physical and emotional consequences of this stress we need to be aware of how we react to stressful situations. This knowledge can then help us to develop coping strategies to alleviate the physical and emotional reactions to stress. These coping strategies can improve the quality of our life. As human beings, one of the great built-in features we come equipped with is our own internal feedback systems that lets us know when we’ve been under too much strain. Our bodies will signal us with an ache or a pain. If we pay attention, things will settle down, but when we ignore these signals, we risk a long-term or serious problem.
When the oil light in our car flashes, would you consider putting a piece of tape over the light as a solution to the problem? Hopefully not. We recognize that it is a signal to which we must pay attention immediately. If not, we run the risk of serious engine damage. And yet, that is what we often do when our own internal oil light goes on. Taking an aspirin or making glib promises to ourselves that we will do something may mask the cause of our symptoms. We fail to recognize the danger signals our body is sending.
Given that we can, to a great extent, control our reactions to situations and not the situations themselves, it makes common sense that we should take control of our “reaction equipment”. Studies have shown that 75% of our daily conversation is negative.
Think over a typical day’s conversation. How much do you complain or worry about things you have no control over like the weather or storms that are not even close to us? How many times do you start, or end, your day by listening to, or watching, the catastrophes on the news? How many times do you think about all the things you have to get accomplished and how short the day is? Why do we practice suffering? We are going to suffer, but why rehearse? We need to look for the positive in every situation.
Everything Begins With A Thought
Have you ever noticed that you feel how you think? We are what we say? How many times have you said, “Oh, I have a terrible headache” and a little while later the headache seems to be worse, so you say it again and before you know it you have to go lie down or go home because it is so bad. What if you said, “I feel pretty good”. Your brain says, “Oh, I thought I had a headache, but I guess I don’t, so I guess I will feel better now.” Sometimes when we are feeling a little low we put a little more make up on so that we look better and we take more care in how we dress. Then someone tells us how good we look and we perk up a little and begin to actually feel better.
Many times we make our lives too complicated with too many choices. We overreact to situations or people or to things that “might happen if”. We need to find some way to gain resiliency and balance, to find the positive in every negative situation. Before and after stress filled days, we need time to recharge our batteries. Time to recover from the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life. To recharge our batteries, we need to unplug ourselves. If we can do this for fifteen minutes every other day, we can actually turn off our stress response and rejuvenate ourselves.
Often we don’t spend the required time to just sit and think because we are so busy rushing to the next event or we worry about what other people might think. It’s as if we think we are the center of the universe and that everyone cares what we do. This comes from some of the early messages we heard as a child, “What will the neighbours think?” Stop and say to yourself, “Who really cares?” You are the only one who can make you happy. Pleasure affects our immune system and makes us healthier.
Over time we have lost our ability to laugh, at ourselves, at situations, at others. A hearty belly-laugh will take us a long way down the road to good health. When we laugh, we are literally giving our internal organs a workout. It is very difficult to reach inside our bodies and massage our kidneys, but a good belly laugh can do that for us.
As children we laughed over 400 times a day, but as adults we have dropped down to less than 15 times a day. In school we were told to stop laughing, at home we were told too be quiet and so as adults we have difficulty regaining our sense of fun. Think of how good we feel after a hearty laugh. Most of us sigh and feel relaxed all over. This happens because of the endorphins. Hearty laughter increases our heart rate and respiratory activity. Muscle tension is also released during laughter. If we are not laughing, we are not really living.
You can change your life. You can develop skills and habits to reduce the stress in your life. Read about how a number of women overcame their struggles to become successful entrepreneurs in this free book – Shining Through Their Struggles
To reducing harmful stress in your life
P.S. Stay tuned for more tips on reducing stress
P.P.S. Here are some tips to add more fun and laughter into your life.
How Can You Incorporate More Play, Laughter And Humor Into Your Life
• Be more spontaneous: Being spontaneous helps you to get out of your head and away from your troubles.
• Smile: Smiling is the beginning of laughter. A smile is also just as contagious as laughter is. When you experience something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling. Smile at everyone you pass in the street, you will feel happier just by sharing a smile, even with a stranger.
• Watch comedy: Comedy shows, either live or on television or DVD are a great and effortless way to laugh more. There are tons of comedians to choose from, so there is something for everyone.
• Count your blessings: By making a list of all the good things in your life, you will see all the reasons you have to smile. Making a list of all the good in your life will also help you focus more on the good and forget about the bad.
• Spend time with fun, playful people: These are the people who find humor in everyday events. Their laughter is contagious. These are also the people who are more likely to be willing to play a game with you.
• Dance whenever you can: It sounds silly. However, letting your body move gets your blood flowing and increases endorphins.
• Set up a game night: Game nights take minimal effort and will encourage laughter, play, and emotional release. Playing games together is a great way to stay connected and engaged with your family and friends.
Incorporating more play, humor, and laughter into your life isn’t difficult and yet brings a multitude of benefits to your life. Taking even just fifteen minutes, a day to implement some of the above tips into your life is enough that you will begin seeing the positive effects.