Here is a topic that is talked about by many, but is treated as being highly under-rated, usually ignored and sneered at by non-believers. Most people do not like to admit to defeat and will continuously push themselves to their limit. In hindsight they presume themselves to be emotionally, mentally and physically strong enough to endure any challenge or to overcome any obstacle or hardship thrown in their path. And yes, we have been blessed with superb physiology that confronts and deals with most difficulties. Unfortunately, in these modern times, with our fast-paced lifestyles and high expectations, we can become overburdened with insurmountable amounts of pressure.
Stress is rearing its ugly head in many different ways. There are a multitude of factors that can promote stressors, such as job insecurity or job dis-satisfaction, moving residence, death of a loved one, starting a new job or position, losing a job, first day at school, public speaking, writing an exam, pregnancy, peer pressure, keeping up to the Jones, doing or learning something beyond your comfort level or even something as simple as going to the dentist. When you find yourself in a predicament that is uncomfortable, you will usually feel a knot rising in your stomach. How it affects your body is actually much more complex and if ignored over a prolonged period of time, it can lead to serious health issues.
When stressors are present, they activate your nervous system. Your hypothalamus, which maintains your body's autonomic nervous system (or bodily functions that operate without your awareness) starts signalling your adrenal glands to produce more adrenaline and cortisol and releases these hormones into your bloodstream. Because of the influx in hormones, your heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and metabolism all speed up. At the same time, your blood vessels open wider allowing more blood flow to large muscle groups, which puts your muscles on alert. You experience increased stomach acid, increased cholesterol and as well, your pupils dilate to improve vision, your liver increases your body's energy by releasing stored sugar and more sweat is produced to cool your body.
These physical changes prepare you to react quickly and effectively in order to handle the pressure at that moment in time and normally your body can perform well while under pressure, but if stressors create over-reaction or if your body fails to return to its natural status quo, then this can lead to further complications. Unfortunately too much of a good thing can become disastrous. If you are overloaded with stress over an extended period of time you may feel dis-oriented, overwhelmed, flighty, scattered or unbalanced. Or even worse, it can weaken your immune system, overwork your internal organs, deplete your energy and lead to chronic illness or disease.
Stress can be indicated by many types and stages of warning signs. In the early stages, warning signs may show as insomnia or sleep disturbance, boredom, crying spells, arguing, decreased appetite, constipation or diarrhea, lack of sex drive, mild depression, procrastination, increased colds/flu, headaches, dis-interest in hobbies or sports once enjoyed, rigidity and inflexible thinking or behaviour, fatigue, marital, work or relationship discord and ulcers. If left undetected or ignored until later stages, then stress will create further damage which may show as asthma, heart conditions, severe depression, migraines, muscle or joint pain/stiffness, change of marital status, change of job, complete withdrawal from social or enjoyable events, forgetfulness, suicidal tendencies, uncontrolled rage or temperament, chronic fatigue syndrome, loss of self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, accident prone, overly agitated or an inability to maintain personal daily life.
If you suspect that you are suffering from the warning signs of stress, it is best to see your medical physician for further examination, analysis and treatment. But also be aware that overcoming the adverse effects of stress is not necessarily healed by popping medications. You will have a much better chance to restore healthy balance, mind-body-spirit, by combining your medical treatment plan to coincide with changes in your attitude, thinking and lifestyle patterns.
To release unwanted stress, the solution is to learn how to keep stress managed to your comfort level or better still, try to avoid it as much as possible. Stress-management is about learning how to welcome and deal with daily challenges, whether regarded as good or bad and to do this regularly, not just when you are in the pressure cooker mode. If you learn how to de-stress and simply keep yourself in a calm frame of mind, this can help you move through challenging circumstances. Here are different ways to help you keep stress under control.
1. Ask for help: Be aware that you cannot, nor are you expected to, know and do everything. Accept the fact that each person has limits and sometimes we need to help each other.
2. Avoid over-scheduling: Only be involved or do activities that are of interest and most important to you.
3. Avoid perfectionism: Be realistic, accept and realize that nobody is perfect, so don't expect you or others to be perfect.
4. Be Resilient. Try to go with the flow and resist trying to over-control a situation, person or circumstances. When you remain calm and cool under pressure you are better able to handle problems as they arise, because you maintain clearer focus. But building your resilience takes practice and patience by developing a positive attitude and behaviour in these different areas, so remember to....
5. Break down your problems: Instead of becoming overwhelmed by trying to solve a huge problem all at once, learn to break it into smaller segments or categories, so that you feel a sense of control. Then calmly look at each category one by one, evaluate your options, list pros and cons, look at the bigger picture to assess how it affects your future before arriving at a conclusion. By learning this strategy you will build inner confidence and this in turn will reduce unnecessary stress. Avoid ignoring the problem altogether, because ignorance is not bliss and the problem won't magically disappear. Instead, it will remain unsolved, which will only add to your plate of stress and increase your lack of control.
6. Exercise: Maintain a daily exercise routine to strengthen your muscles and cardio-vascular system. Exercise also stimulates your lymphatic system to releases waste/toxins from your body, increases blood flow to your brain and circulates energy throughout your entire system.
7. Honour your body: Avoid abusing your body through excess use of drugs, alcohol, over-eating, smoking or over-indulgence of junk foods.
8. Maintain proper sleep: This keeps you better equipped, mentally and physically, by providing increased clarity and focus when dealing with stressors. If necessary, rejuvenate by taking short ten or fifteen minute power naps during the day.
9. Monitor your thinking: All thoughts are energy, all action follows a thought; therefore, you control your reality in which your outlook, attitude and re-actions influence your life. Energy attracts the same frequency vibration, so what you think, you will get or attract; therefore, be very careful what you think or wish for.
10. Nutrition: Eat a balanced variety of nutritious foods, drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water, reduce fats and sugar and supplement with additional vitamins and minerals.
11. Relax: This creates calmness and a sense of well-being. So the next time you feel yourself tense up, breathe slowly, deeply and evenly until you feel calmer. Your body's chemical imbalances can be reversed or greatly improved simply by relaxing. You can learn to relax through doing such activities such as: walking, simple 1-2-3-4 breathing exercises, meditation, visualizations, music, reading, painting, enjoyable hobbies, a relaxing bath, massage, Reiki, reflexology; the list goes on. It is important to find what works for you.
An important key for releasing unwanted stress and increasing your over-all success, is to regard each challenge as a golden opportunity for spiritual growth and a means to learn valuable lessons. Then regard stressors as just temporary problems or hiccups. You cannot eliminate stress altogether, otherwise you would have no motivation to do anything worthwhile or constructive; therefore you would experience no personal growth. But moderate amounts of good stress will induce you to make sensible, achievable goals, monitor your growth progress, allow yourself time for relaxation and enjoyment, remain optimistic, believe in your capabilities, plus make positive choices to live your life to its fullest potential.
One final word of advice.... refuse to allow stress to control or dominate you; instead, make the effort to learn how to control and tame it.
Margaret Jang is a Reiki Master Teacher & Practitioner, Numerologist, Intuitive, and a Spiritual/Inspirational Poet & Writer. She currently resides in Vancouver, BC and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website www.margaretjang.com.