Why is it So Darn Hard to Cope with Stress? Ways to Reduce It
by Erika Slater
How can you cope with stress? Stress is part of living and while we can’t eliminate it we can reduce it – here I discuss how you can reduce your stress.
In today’s world it seems stress is at an all-time high!
We live in an extremely fast-paced technologically-advanced time period when most people are living their lives expecting things to happen at the drop of a hat, or this is how others expect them to live.
Stress comes from all sides as we live an “overloaded life”: our family commitments, our job commitments, and even our friend commitments. Our plate or cup “runneth over.”
So many people live their lives based on ‘quantity’, trying to achieve the most they can, while putting in the least amount of effort, instead of getting the truest ‘quality’ from living their lives.
What this means is folks are spreading themselves too thin, and this means they’re feeling worn down and weary, and this makes coping with stress extremely difficult. Often times, people compromise their value – what their lives are truly worth – in order to attain ‘value’ in the form of things; money, objects and even people.
This way of living will stress you out!
The fact is stress isn’t going away anytime soon. Even our pre-historic ancestors had stress. The stress of getting to the next meal before being eaten themselves. The constant battle for food and shelter, and companionship.
But as life became “easier” this stress of survival was replaced by other modern-day stresses. But even if stress can’t be eliminated completely from our lives there are ways of coping better with it.
THE IMPACT OF MODERN DAY STRESS ON YOU:
We know from many studies what stress does to our bodies and health. A body under severe and constant stress that isn’t coping well breaks down our immune system and leads to many health issues and diseases.
The Mayo Clinic describes these common effects of stress on us (see the resource section below for link to full article)…
“… stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.”
So many people find it extremely difficult to cope with stress because they defer their thoughts and feelings connected to their stress to a later date.
What I mean by this is many can feel they’re already stressed out, or know they’ll be stressed out, but will worry about it later… much later. The problem is when ‘later’ comes, they’re already in way too deep, drowning in their stress and weariness, they can’t seem to find a way out.
When it gets to that point, it starts to make them not only feel vulnerable, but hopeless as well.
Then there are those in denial or kid themselves they thrive on stress…
There are individuals who will argue tooth and nail with you they don’t have stress. Their life is perfect and they deal with it perfectly. Oh really?
Yet others will tell you they get the most accomplished by being stressed out, or “Work best under pressure!” I’m sure that is the case for many, and there is truth to that, but for how long can you keep that ‘pressure’ on yourself before the lid blows off of… your sanity?
When you engage in that kind of lifestyle, there’s always a price to pay; your mental, emotional and/or physical health and well-being.
Many people don’t know how to cope with stress and so they choose to turn a blind eye to it, or accept it as a ‘lifestyle’. But as we’ve seen this is dangerous and even medical science is telling us we do this at risk to our overall wellness.
But it doesn’t have to be so darn hard to cope with stress. With some simple changes and techniques, you can change the collision course with your health you’re on…
WAYS TO COPE WITH STRESS:
First, I recognize you may be under stress already that’s beyond coping with just the introduction of some of these ways. If you’re already experiencing physical or mental health issues due to stress then you must seek professional help.
One of the best ways to get your stress under control is to manage it by minimizing what you’re engaging in, but at the same time maximizing your efforts to give your best and achieve your goal.
As we try and stuff so much into our day we end up just doing too many things, and either never completing them, or putting in minimal effort and getting less than desirable results.
Feeling okay about saying “no” is the recognition you need to limit your commitments to others, including family.
When you pour your efforts into just a couple of things at a time, you’re more likely to be successful, optimize your talents and skills, and achieve good results. This improves your self-esteem and self-confidence, which will result in lowering your stress and feelings of letting others down.
If you overload yourself with commitments then your own quality of life suffers as you stress out over all the things you must accomplish for others before you get anytime for “you.” This “you time” is the most important of any of the time you spend.
There’s a reason why in every airline flight safety talk you’re told to put on your oxygen mask before attempting to help others put on theirs. You can’t help others until you help yourself. So this “you time” is you putting on your oxygen mask first.
This “you time” can be a hobby or learning some new skill or knowledge. It can be doing something with a family member of friend. Meeting for coffee. It can be reading a book or watching a movie, or exercising.
The point is whatever you do it must be enjoyable and rejuvenating to you. If it becomes a chore to you then you’re back to adding another stressful commitment to your schedule! Which defeats the object of doing it!
Now if you’re saying to yourself at this point, “but I have too many people relying on me to take this you time”, then I’m afraid you’re falling into a dangerous trap of making excuses why you can’t do something that helps you, and thereby other people. If you were to drop dead today then the world will go on and these other people will cope.
Sorry to be so blunt, but you’re reading this because you feel overly stressed and continuing to do what you do today without introducing change isn’t coping better is it?
In the resource section below, I’ve included a link to a WebMD article that lists 10 ways to relax that you’ll enjoy. But I want to highlight a few of them as we round out this section…
If you find it difficult to relax then meditation, mindfulness and self-hypnosis are champion ways of taking just a few minutes each day and clearing the surface cluttering thoughts of your mind.
Whether you call it meditation or mindfulness doesn’t really matter. The concept is the same of focusing on the current moment. Find your own “Daily Practice” or “Miracle Morning” but have a structure to it and keep to same part of the day if possible.
Learning self-hypnosis and realizing it’s a tool that’ll repay you for the rest of your life can be a well… life-changing experience. It takes no longer than learning to mediate but has the purpose of changing your unconscious habits. These are habits you’ve learned over the years but unfortunately can feed your stress, rather than reduce it.
Most professional hypnotists in your area can teach you self-hypnosis. I’ve run a number of these classes myself for my clients, but more importantly, often include some basic techniques for a client in sessions while solving other issues. There are also self-study programs covering self-hypnosis if you prefer that approach, or don’t have access to a local hypnotherapist.
If you need a jump start to cope with stress better than you do today then look for a program similar to my stress and anxiety hypnosis management service here and look for a local hypnotist who can help you or contact me.
Medical science teaches us reducing stress helps with our overall wellness and especially our physical and mental health. Cope with stress by implementing a strategy to manage your commitments.
Limit commitments to others and don’t be afraid to say “no” to requests for your time. Don’t be a martyr. Remember you need to help yourself first before you can help others. Say “no” to commitments that will robe you having “you time” and of completing your commitments with a quality focus.
Schedule “you time” first before any other commitments. Think of this philosophy as putting on your oxygen mask and life vest first before helping anybody else. Pick activities that you enjoy doing and relax you.
Erika Slater CH
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