The Power of Relaxation
No matter who you are, or what kind of life you lead, stress has likely made its presence known to you at some point. It is a normal physical response to perceived threats or danger, but it can be a positive thing, in that it compels people to move quickly, to become more focused and perform well under pressure. That said, if the stress becomes a way of life, and if your personal balance is consistently disrupted, it can negatively impact your life because your mind and body will buckle under the weight of it.
For some, stress is a work-related issue, while for others it may be the result of a seemingly insoluble problem that has been weighing on the mind. For others still, stress and the inability to control it simply becomes an involuntary habit.
External causes of stress include:
- Major life changes
- Work or school
- Relationship difficulties
- Financial problems
- Being too busy
- Children and family
Internal causes of stress include:
- Chronic worry
- Negative self-talk
- Unrealistic expectations/Perfectionism
- Rigid thinking, lack of flexibility
- All-or-nothing attitude
Who doesn’t have at least one of these issues in their life? Being human means experiencing all elements of humanity, including the negative, but, how do we cope with these things?
According to HelpGuide.org, it is essential that those negatively affected by stress learn how to manage by adhering to the 4 As:
1. Avoid unnecessary stress. Learn how to say no to situations or people who evoke a stress response in you. If you must, then you must, but if it’s a “should” situation, you might be better off saying no.
2. Alter the situation. If you can’t avoid it, then try to alter it. Instead of internalizing your feelings which only elevates stress, respectfully let others know about your concerns.
3. Adapt to the stressor. Try to change your attitude to the stressor if the stressor itself cannot be changed. Look at the big picture: is it worth getting upset about?
4. Accept what you can’t change. No one is perfect, so do not put undue pressure on yourself to be something you aren’t. If you can’t change it, why work yourself up over it? Every situation has an opportunity for growth in it, no matter how horrible things seem at the time.
Aside from the 4 A’s, there are other ways to combat stress.
Make relaxation at priority! Activities such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing are all well-documented sources of relaxation that people of all cultures, faiths and backgrounds will benefit from. All of these practices are non-discriminatory, and are for people of all ages and experience. Most healthcare practitioners now endorse these practices as effective, natural stress-busters that cost very little but have a huge personal payout in terms of calming the body and mind. You don’t have to take classes to learn the fundamentals of these practices. Just take a look online (YouTube for instructional videos) to learn the basics.
Exercise! Exercise releases pent-up tension, and also produces endorphins which give you a serene, peaceful feeling. Avoid strenuous exercise if you are just starting out. Walking, swimming and even stretching are excellent starting points, and in most cases are enough to level your body out.
Eat properly! It doesn’t take much to figure out that proper nourishment gives your body what it needs to cope with stress. Try to reduce or cut out the kinds of foods, beverages or other habits which do nothing to benefit you, such as high fats, caffeine, nicotine, etc. This information isn’t new, but food habits can be difficult to change.
Get enough sleep! When you’re tired, you’re irrational, simple as that. You feel “crabby”, or incapable of handling things that normally wouldn’t bother you. If you get enough rest, you feel stronger, more alert, and are more likely to cope with your stress in a positive, productive manner. If you have trouble sleeping, what should you do? Go back to the first point of making relaxation a priority. It’s all a cycle, you see.
Sometimes, we make life too hard and are too hard on ourselves when we feel we aren’t dealing with it well. Give yourself a break, and make “you” the priority. By doing this, you will feel better, and be better.
Take a deep breath, and carry on. It will get easier when you make it easier.