Everybody feels stress and knows it intimately, but very few of us think about what stress actually is.
Stress is a thought. That’s it. No more, no less. If that’s true, then we have complete control over stress, because it’s not something that happens to us but something that happens in us.
The dictionary definition of stress is, “bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.” It is your thoughts out of balance.
The medical definition of stress is, “the perception of a real or imagined threat to your body or your ego.” It could be a tiger chasing you or your belief that your spouse is mad at you (even if he or she is not). Whether it is real or imagined, when you perceive something as stressful, it creates the same response in the body.
A cascade of adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones floods your system, raising your heart rate, increasing your blood pressure, making your blood more likely to clot, damaging your brain’s memory center, increasing belly fat storage, and generally wreaking havoc on your body.
The operative word here about stress is that it is a perception, also known as a thought or point of view. There are objective stressors, to be sure—war, death of loved ones, financial troubles, starvation, dental work. But how these affect us determines our body’s stress response. Imagine Woody Allen and James Bond, each with a gun pointed at his head—same external stressor but entirely different responses.
When I was very sick with chronic fatigue, barely able to work, a single father with two kids, thinking I had to go on disability, I worried constantly. I couldn’t sleep and everything seemed stressful. Then, a wise man told me I had to stop worrying. I argued with him strenuously, providing a comprehensive list of all the real external events that were stressful to me. He just kept repeating that worrying was toxic; he said, what really mattered was how I viewed the situation, and he kept telling me I just needed to stop worrying.
And slowly, very slowly, I trained myself to watch my thoughts, my perceptions, and when a stressful thought came into my head, I stopped, took a deep breath, and just let go. It’s like a muscle—it gets stronger the more you use it, but if you let go, it relaxes.
But of course, life takes over and things happen, all the “D’s:” divorce, death, deadlines, demands, dumb thoughts, and dumb schedules. And as anyone does, I get sucked in to negative thinking, which creates stress in my body. My sleep gets interrupted, my muscles get tight, my mood gets cranky, but then I breathe and remember that stress is all in my head. We get so attached to our way of thinking, to our beliefs and attitudes about the way things should be or shouldn’t be, that it makes us sick.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t respond to injustice or experience intense feelings of joy, happiness, sadness, loss, or pain. I do. But I try just to be fully in them when they come, then experience the next moment, then the next and the next, and just show up with my whole self with love and attention. That’s the only thing I can do.
Most people, when they look at my life, think I’m crazy and wonder why I’m not more stressed—running a medical practice; writing books and blogs; teaching all over the world; working on health policy; volunteering in Haiti, churches, and orphanages; being a father, son, brother, partner, friend, boss, and more. But it’s actually quite simple. I don’t worry about things much. I simply wake up and do the next thing as best I can.
And when things get out of control, which they do, I simply make a gentle U-turn. It’s like a GPS for my soul. Your GPS doesn’t yell at you and call you stupid or judge you for taking a wrong turn. In the sweetest voice imaginable, the GPS reminds you to take the next possible U-turn.
Each of us has to find out how to make our own U-turn. There are some wonderful ways I have discovered that work very well for me!
Here’s how I make my U-turns (and I try to pick one or more each day):
- Move. The best way to burn off the stress hormones without having to change your thinking is to move and sweat. Run, dance, jump, ride, swim, stretch, or skip—do something vigorous and lively. Yoga is also fabulous, as it combines movement and breathing.
- Breathe. Most of us hold our breath often or breathe swallow, anxious breaths. Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound affect on resetting the stress response, because the relaxation nerve (or vagus nerve and not the Las Vegas nerve) goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath. Take five deep breaths now, and observe how differently you feel after.
- Bathe. For the lazy among us (including me), an UltraBath is a secret weapon against stress. Add 2 cups of Epsom salt (which contains magnesium, the relaxation mineral), a half-cup of baking soda, and 10 drops of lavender oil (which lowers cortisol) to a very hot bath. Then, add one stressed human and soak for 20 minutes. Guaranteed to induce relaxation.
- Sleep. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones. Get your eight hours no matter what. Take a nap if you missed your sleep. Prioritize sleep.
- Think Differently. Practice the art of noticing stress, noticing how your thinking makes you stressed. Practice taking deep breaths and letting go of worry. Try Byron Katie’s four questions to break the cycle of “stinkin’ thinkin’” that keeps you stressed.
You can also try my UltraCalm CD, featuring guided mediations and relaxation techniques.
Also, I highly recommend tapping, a technique that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Pick up a copy of Nick Ortner’s new book The Tapping Solution to learn more. Another great stress-relief technique to try is Holosync, an audio technology designed by the Centerpointe Research Institute, which instantly (and effortlessly) puts you into states of deep meditation—literally, at the push of a button. Visit Centerpointe’s website to find out more. Also, check out meQuilibrium, a digital coaching system created by experts to change the way you respond to stress. It teaches specific skills to help you get a handle on all of the emotional, physical, and lifestyle imbalances that keep you from feeling your best.
Enjoy, and happy U-turns!
Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below—but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
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There are a number of causes of muscle tension, but the most common causes are stress and a sedentary lifestyle. For this reason, most techniques that are used to relieve tension in the muscles are also techniques that require relaxation, exercise, or a combination of the two. If you happen to work at a desk or computer for long hours every day, the muscle tension that you experience may be cause by sitting in the same position for long periods of time. You can combat this by getting up from your desk every hour or so and doing some simple stretching exercises. Also, consider taking part of your lunch hour and going for a walk.
Exercise in general is a great way to help reduce stress and relieve excess tension in the muscles. Some of the best exercises to relieve muscle tension are yoga, Pilates, and tai chi. These kinds of exercises promote relaxation and proper breathing, which are great ways to help reduce tension in the muscles. Using one of these kinds of exercises once a week is a great way to get fit, stay fit, and reduce muscle tension.
Some people turn to massage therapy to reduce muscle tension. Although massages can be expensive, they are a great way to relieve tension in the muscles. Before a massage, it is best to speak with the massage therapist about trouble areas and places that are most commonly troubled by excessive muscle tension. The therapist can then focus on treating these areas during the session. Despite the expense, many people budget for monthly and even weekly massage therapy sessions because of the health benefits of the treatment, including the reduction of tension in the muscles.
Another way to reduce muscle tension is to meditate. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, help one feel more centered, and reduce excess tension in the muscles. For those who are not familiar with meditation, there are recordings that, when listened to, can guide one through the process. These recordings of guided meditations can be listened to on a daily basis, while lying down or sitting in a comfortable position. They can also be listened to while falling asleep at night.
Guided meditation recordings are quite cost effective because they can be used over and over again. They are also useful even for people experienced in using meditation for the purposes of relaxation.
5 Healthy Ways to Deal With Stress as a Believer
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Everyone deals with stress at some point, and Christians are not immune to the pressures and pitfalls of life.
Stress tends to hit us when we’re overtired, when we’re sick, and when we’re outside of our safe and familiar environment. When we’ve taken on too many responsibilities, during times of grief and tragedy, when our circumstances spin out of control, we feel stressed. And when our basic needs are not being met, we feel threatened and anxious.
Most Christians share the belief that God is sovereign and in control of our lives. We believe he has given us everything we need for living. So, when stress dominates our lives, somewhere along the way we have lost our ability to trust in God. That’s not meant to imply that a stress-free existence in Christ is easy to obtain. Far from it.
Maybe you’ve heard these words from another Christian in one of your moments of stress: “What you need to do, bro, is just trust God more.”
If only it were that easy.
Stress and anxiety for a Christian can take on many different shapes and forms. It can be as simple and subtle as slowly backsliding away from God or as debilitating as a full-blown panic attack. Regardless, stress will wear us down physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We need to be armed with a plan for dealing with it.
Try These Healthy Ways to Deal With Stress as a Christian
1. Recognize the Problem.
If you know something is seriously wrong, the fastest way to the solution is to admit you have a problem. Sometimes it’s not easy to admit you’re barely hanging on by a thread and can’t seem to manage your own life.
Recognizing the problem requires honest self-evaluation and humble confession. Psalm 32:2 says, “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (NLT)
Once we can deal honestly with our problem, we can begin to get help.
2. Give Yourself a Break and Get Help.
Stop beating yourself up. Here’s a news flash: you are human, not ‘Super Christian.’ You live in a fallen world where problems are inevitable. The bottom line, we need to turn to God and to others for help.
Now that you’ve identified the problem you can take steps to care for yourself and get the appropriate help. If you’re not getting enough rest, take time to restore your physical body. Eat a proper diet, get regular exercise, and start learning how to balance work, ministry, and family time. You may need to find a support system of friends who have “been there” and understand what you’re going through.
If you’re sick, or working through a loss or tragedy, you may need to step back from your normal responsibilities. Give yourself time and space to heal.
In addition, there may be underlying hormonal, chemical, or physiological reason for your stress. You may need to see a doctor to work through the causes and cures for your anxiety.
These are all practical ways to regulate stress in our lives. But don’t neglect the spiritual side of the matter.
3. Turn to God in Prayer
When you’re overcome with anxiety, stress, and loss, more than ever, you need to turn to God. He is your ever-present help in times of trouble. The Bible recommends taking everything to him in prayer.
This verse in Philippians offers the comforting promise that as we pray, our minds will be protected by an inexplicable peace:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)
God promises to give us peace beyond our ability to understand. He also promises to create beauty from the ashes of our lives as we discover that hope comes from loss and joy springs from times of brokenness and suffering. (Isaiah 61:1-4)
4. Meditate on the Word of God
The Bible, in fact, is filled with incredible promises from God. Meditating on these words of assurance can dispel our worry, doubt, fear, and stress. Here are just a few examples of the Bible’s stress relieving verses:
2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (NIV)
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (NLT)
“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (NLT)
“I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.” (NLT)
5. Spend Time Giving Thanks and Praise
A friend once told me, “I find that it’s almost impossible to be stressed and praise God at the same time. When I’m stressing, I just start praising and the stress just seems to go away.”
Praise and worship will take our minds off of ourselves and our problems, and refocus them on God. As we begin to praise and worship God, suddenly our problems seem small in light of the largeness of God. Music is also soothing to the soul. Next time you’re feeling stressed, try following my friend’s advice and see if your stress doesn’t begin to lift.
Life can be challenging and complicated, and we are much too vulnerable in our human condition to escape the inevitable battles with stress. Yet for Christians, stress can have a positive side too. It may be the first indicator that we have stopped depending upon God daily for strength.
We can let stress be a reminder that our lives have drifted away from God, a warning that we need to turn back and cling to the rock of our salvation.
If you’re thinking of decluttering, de-stressing and organizing your home, focus on the bedroom closet first, followed by the laundry room and kitchen pantry, according to the design team at EasyClosets.com. (Courtesy of EasyClosets.com)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Are you looking to reduce the amount of stress in your life? It may surprise you, but the answer can be found in your bedroom closet.
Yes, closets, if disorganized and unorderly, are one of the most stress-inducing areas of the home, organizing experts say.
So, if you’re thinking of decluttering, de-stressing and organizing your home, focus on the bedroom closet first, followed by the laundry room and kitchen pantry, according to the design team at EasyClosets.com, an online closet company.
A few simple changes to your bedroom closet, whether it is a walk-in closet or the reach-in variety, for example, will go a long way toward reducing daily stress and anxiety.
EasyClosets is part of The Stow Company, a leader in custom home storage and organization products for 30-plus years.
“It’s difficult deciding which room to take care of first when several need to get done, the EasyClosets.com designers say. “Make it easier by focusing on one space at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed with the number of areas you need to tackle.”
The experts at EasyClosets.com offer the following tips for reducing stress by organizing the bedroom closet.
Start by taking everything out of your closet. Group your clothing by season and style and get rid of the items you don’t wear anymore, the design experts advise. Assign each shelf and drawer a specific type of clothing so all of your essentials will be together. Use belt racks, or a valet rack to keep ties, scarves, necklaces and jewelry at the ready. No more rummaging through your whole closet — now you’ll be able to locate everything efficiently.
There’s no better way to create more room for your clothes than by using drawer dividers. Maximize your space by putting different categorized pants or other items in divided compartments and incorporate dividers in your drawers to better utilize space and make those quick changes on the run easier. Smaller dividers can keep socks and other hosiery in as many as nine separate compartments within one drawer.
Jewelry trays are another option for making your drawers more orderly and accessible. Smaller divided squares will make jewelry, accessories and watches accessible at a glance.
Hang and color coordinate
There’s nothing worse than grabbing a shirt in a hurry and noticing unsightly wrinkles. Be worry-free and hang your clothes right after drying them to keep them in pristine condition — also allowing you to grab them on the go. You can easily install extendable valet rods at the right height to accommodate all of the items in your closet.
The experts suggest you organize your hanging items by color. That way you can easily coordinate outfits to quickly get ready. If you want to design a new dream closet, begin with a shoe rack.
Nothing spells disorganization faster than a pile of shoes buried in your closet. Shoe organization can be fast and simple if you create your own shoe rack. Shoe racks can be assembled at home and are available in a variety of finishes, including white, black, neutral and silver. They can be designed to fit in any closet and accommodate any size shoes or boots. They’re also perfect for storing handbags, duffle bags or winter accessories.
While organizing, you may find design changes will help you reach your goal.
EasyClosets.com offers an online design process that allows you to consult with a design team to create your dream closet, pantry or laundry room. The online design tool lets you see and update your design at your own pace, and orders are custom-manufactured and typically shipped within a few days after they’re received.
All manufacturing takes place in a world-class 400,000-square-foot facility in Holland, Mich. Price quotes are provided instantly, and experts and designers will pitch in to help you reach your goals.
Easy do-it-yourself installation is available for all projects.
Last Updated: April 8, 2021 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Guy Reichard. Guy Reichard is an Executive Life Coach and the Founder of HeartRich Coaching & Training, a professional life coaching and inner leadership training provider based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He works with people to create more meaning, purpose, well-being, and fulfillment in their lives. Guy has over 10 years of personal growth coaching and resilience training experience, helping clients enhance and transform their inner worlds, so they can be a more positive and powerful influence on those they love and lead. He is an Adler Certified Professional Coach (ACPC), and is accredited by the International Coach Federation. He earned a BA in Psychology from York University in 1997 and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from York University in 2000.
There are 19 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Life can be chaotic and fast-paced, and sometimes it feels like you barely have a chance to pause and be present. Fortunately, life doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to slow down, ditch the constant stress, and make time for the small, simple pleasures in life. We’ve put together some tips to help you simplify your life and find more peace. Check out the steps below to get started!
Stress is a normal response to dealing with changes and challenges in daily life. In the short term, stress can help you perform better under pressure, but constant stress can pose problems for your health. Stress causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as adrenaline, which influences your blood pressure, heart rate, eating habits, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels, fat metabolism and your ability to fight-off illness. Long term stress can also increase your risk of heart attack or stroke and contribute to depression.
These lifestyle actions can help you reduce or manage the stress in your life.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Reduce caffeine and sugar.
- Avoid cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take a break.
- Ask for help.
- Try Deep Breathing – sit tall and comfortably, breath in slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth while counting to yourself.
- Reframe problems – pause, regroup and look at the situation from a positive angle. For example, if you are stuck in traffic, enjoy the alone time.
- Avoid people who stress you out.
- Avoid topics that get you upset or cross.
- If there are topics you constantly argue over, such as religion or politics, change the topic or remove yourself from the conversation when it arises.
- Manage your time and plan ahead to avoid the last minute stress and running behind.
Increase Physical Activity
- Regular physical activity is an important step in reducing your stress and improving your health.
- Physical activity can help regulate your hormones and offset the negative effects stress can cause on your body.
- Aim to complete 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day on most days of the week.
- Brisk walking is an excellent way to increase your physical activity.
- Look for the bright side of the situation.
- Challenges are opportunities for personal growth.
- Reflect on stressful situations and learn from your experience.
Learn How to Relax and Have Fun
- Set aside time for yourself each day.
- Time to relax, rest and take a break from all your responsibilities.
- Keep your sense of humour!
- Connect with others. Spend time with people who have a positive impact on your life.
- Have lunch or go for a walk with a friend.
- Do something you enjoy every day.
- Listen to music you enjoy.
Be Willing to Adapt
- If you can’t change the situation, change your expectations and your response.
- Be willing to compromise. You may want someone else to change. You will have a better chance of finding a resolution if you are willing to compromise to a middle ground.
- Look at the big picture. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it worth getting upset and stressed?
- Adjust your standards. Perfect may not be possible. Set reasonable standards that can be achieved and learn to live with “good enough”.
- Learn to forgive. Let go of anger and resentment. Accept an imperfect world.
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Some things are beyond our control, focus on the things you can change and the way you react to the situation.
- While you may not be able to change the situation, you are in control of how you respond.
- Set a schedule, plan ahead so you are prepared for stressful situations and jobs you need to do.
- Manage your time to fit in what needs to be accomplished.
- Take charge of your environment, find a space that inspires you or adapt your work space to be positive and encouraging.
- Be more assertive. Take charge of your life and make decisions.
- Delegate to others. Have your children or family help out with chores and jobs they are capable of to reduce your workload.
- Avoid procrastination. Putting things off only increases the stress later on.
- Find someone to talk to, talking through problems and challenges can alleviate stress associated with the situation.
- Learn to say “no”. Limit yourself to only what you are comfortable with doing.
- Limit and prioritize your “to do” list. Sort out the “must do’s” and the “should do’s”. Deal with important jobs right away and delay or drop unnecessary tasks.
Identify the Cause of your Stress
- Look closely at your habits, attitudes and excuses.
- Start a stress journal. Ask yourself:
- What causes you to feel stressed?
- How do you feel physically and emotionally?
- How do you respond to stress?
- What do you do to feel better?
- How do you cope with your stress?
Last Reviewed: September 2018
© 2016 Province of British Columbia. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a health professional. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.
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If you have questions about physical activity or exercise, call 8-1-1 (or 7-1-1 for the deaf and heard of hearing) toll-free in B.C. Our qualified exercise professionals are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm Pacific Time. You can also leave a message after hours.
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HealthLinkBC’s qualified exercise professionals can also answer your questions by email.
Where the World of Work and Personal Life Intersects
Contributed by Gabrielle Gardiner
Did you know that according to USPS data, more than 15.9 million people moved last year during the pandemic? It’s no secret that moving is one of the top stressors in life, especially when you’re moving for work and there are professional responsibilities to be concerned about.
It’s definitely helpful to have a solid plan on how to approach moving and deal with any potential challenges. There are some stress-free moving tips you can follow to help you keep your head on straight during the moving process.
With so many folks uprooting their lives to get a change of scenery in the wake of the pandemic, there’s never been a better time to get a refresher on how to streamline the moving process for yourself and the rest of the family. One of the clearest solutions is to look into the cost of hiring a moving service to make your life easier. However, we’ve also highlighted some more great actionable advice for moving with kids specifically below.
- Plan your move to happen mid-month or mid-week.
There will be less traffic and the cost to move furniture might be lower during these times.
- Keep a master binder for moving.
Organize all documents: contracts, receipts, and other important records in one organized place.
- Be wise about how you pack.
Take care of wrapping fragile or tedious items first so you’re not rushing and leaving room for error (and damage.)
- Avoid leaks, lost items, or other mishaps.
By keeping expensive and valuable personal belongings close and remembering to pack items like cleaning solutions, paints, and sharp tools in clear plastic bins (rather than cardboard boxes.)
- Organize your boxes using color-coding.
Consider giving every room a different color packing label. You can download our free packing labels to add to your boxes below!
- Make extra cash by selling unnecessary items.
Use Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or have a garage sale.
- Schedule a pickup with WePickUp.org or a similar site.
This is especially useful if you have a lot of items you’d rather donate than sell. It’ll save you a trip to Good Will or Salvation Army!
- Paint the move in a positive light when talking to the kids.
It’s easy to constantly talk about how stressed you are with the moving process. Remember, your kids are always listening and internalizing those sentiments — try to stay positive.
- Notify your home insurance agent of your move.
They’ll be able to tell you if moving insurance is included in your home insurance policy. If not, you’ll want to look into moving insurance to protect your belongings.
- Be prepared for stormy weather.
For example, bring old towels, extra cardboard and plastic wrap to protect items in transit when there’s rain or snow.
You can find more actionable tips here, and feel free to download the printable resources below to help with the moving process: an inventory cheat sheet, contact notification sheet, and moving labels.
Among other things, they keep problems in proper perspective.
- What Is Stress?
- Find a therapist to overcome stress
While stress causes some people to crumble, mentally strong people are able to thrive despite added tension. In fact, they view adversity as an opportunity for growth. Whether they’re dealing with financial setbacks, health problems, or workplace difficulties, mentally strong people don’t let stress drag them down.
Here are seven ways mentally strong people handle stress effectively:
1. They accept that stress is part of life.
While some people waste time and energy thinking things like, “I shouldn’t have to deal with this,” mentally strong people know that setbacks, problems, and hardships are inevitable. When stressful situations arise, they devote their efforts into doing what they can to move forward. Even when they can’t change the circumstances, they know they can always take steps to improve their lives.
2. They keep problems in proper perspective.
Rather than think that a flat tire has the power to ruin their whole day, mentally strong people keep inconveniences in proper perspective. When tempted to catastrophize a minor event — such as thinking one mistake could ruin their whole career — they respond by reframing the message they give themselves, and refuse to allow a pessimistic inner monologue to take hold.
3. They take care of their physical health.
Mentally strong people recognize the importance of keeping their bodies in smooth operating condition. They recognize they won’t be able to combat stress if they’re worn out and running on empty. They exercise, get plenty of sleep, and maintain a diet that keeps them healthy.
4. They choose healthy coping skills.
While some people turn to alcohol, junk food, or other unhealthy vices to help them escape stress, mentally strong people cope with discomfort in a productive manner. They allow themselves to feel uncomfortable emotions like anxiety, fear, and sadness head-on. They use healthy activities, like going for a walk or participating in a hobby, to cope with emotional pain.
5. They balance social activity with solitude.
Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid facing problems, people fill their schedules with social activities. Others deal with stress by withdrawing from friends and family. Mentally strong people strike a balance: They maintain a healthy social life even when they’re stressed, but they also reserve time to be alone with their thoughts.
6. They acknowledge their choices.
Stress can cause people to feel like victims of bad circumstances. Mentally strong people acknowledge that everything they do, from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep, is a choice. They’re willing to say no to things they don’t want to do and they accept responsibility for their behavior.
7. They look for the silver lining.
Mentally strong people don’t necessarily see the world through rose-colored glasses—they have a realistic outlook—but they do look for the silver lining in tough circumstances. They recognize that good things can come from stressful situations. Rather than allowing hardship to turn them into bitter people or helpless victims, they choose to use stressful circumstances to become stronger and better.
I am a psychotherapist, keynote speaker, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages.
Do you shove stressful feelings deep inside to deal with another day? Perhaps you bury yourself in work, or you compartmentalise stressful thoughts and lock them away in your mind? Do you behave in a destructive manner towards inanimate objects, or verbally attack others?
Stress can affect your body in many ways. Oftentimes, these include your:
- immune system
- hormonal levels
- cyclic patterns
- pelvic floor
- mental clarity
- emotional state
- hot flushes
- body image and overall image of self
- body shape
Both your physical and mental health are important for overall wellbeing and vitality. If one is out of balance, the other will be too.
It’s important to understand how stress affects our whole bodily system, and how these feelings remain long after the initial cause of the stress has gone.
We need to deal with the residual effects, calm our nervous system down, and move forward in life.
Ever woken up in a foul mood and decided to not go on your morning walk? Or maybe you have had a bout of anxiety and cancelled social catch-ups?
Sometimes, you need to cancel your plans and create space for healing. However, try not to cancel them for too long as this can also have an adverse effect on your health.
Creating space and time to reflect on why you are feeling stressed is important. Writing down your reflections in a non-judgemental form is a great way to express your feelings.
Social connectedness also has a positive effect on our overall health and wellbeing. Having a good social circle is such an important part of our lives, especially when we need to talk things over with a trusted loved one or friend.
“People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a result, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. Social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.”
Exercise is one of the best-known ways to help yourself through the stress cycle. Studies show that exercise has a powerful and positive effect on our mental health and stress cycles.
“Adults who engage in regular physical activity experience fewer depressive and anxiety symptoms, thus supporting the notion that exercise offers a protective effect against the development of mental disorders.”
Other Ways to Handle Stress
There are many other things you can do to lessen the effects of stress. For instance, you can:
1. Be your own best friend in a compassionate and nurturing way.
2. Pat and hug your pet.
3. Immerse yourself in nature, walk in a park, by the beach, etc.
4. Dance and sing to your favourite song or music.
5. Create – stitch, knit, paint, draw, write, bake, meditate.
6. Have a massage.
Chose something you relax and lose time in.
Stress and recovery are a balancing system of understanding your needs and then creating a plan around what you know works for your mind and body and prioritising it.
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What stresses you the most? Have you caught yourself when stress builds up? What do you do in such moments? Do you have a favourite way to ease stress? Please share it with the community!