As you read this, you may realize that you’ve probably heard this information before. Would you accept our invitation to re-visit these ideas with an open mind and an intention to help yourself alleviate the damaging effects of prolonged stress?
There is unanimous agreement among healthcare professionals that stress can make you sick, reduce your quality of life and in some cases, even end your life. High blood pressure, insomnia, digestive disorders, premature aging, and depression are just some of the risks of unmanaged anxiety. What is also true is that it is often insidious. We get accustomed to the internal “buzz” that stress creates, and it just becomes integrated into our every day experience. We may tell ourselves that we are fine, or even feel pleased about getting through yet another day of pressure without having a meltdown. We might not even notice that we are living our lives in “fight or flight” mode – when we have a strong stress reaction, the chemicals secreted by the brain stay with us, even when the acute stress has passed.
Many people accept that this is just a fact of life – you may tell yourself that you are a caregiver, a corporate executive, a parent, an adult child of a declining parent, a small business owner – and that stress is just part of that kind of responsibility. Maybe so – but there are strong indications that the residuals of constant stress need attention for us to stay well.
Each of us has the ability to do something about it. Maybe preventing it entirely is unrealistic – but can you improve how you of handling these moments? Although this is not new information, it might be helpful to pause, and take a look at the influence that stress is having on your life. Maybe there is nothing to do about the actual stressors – they are real and often not in your control. Don’t give up - the process doesn’t end there. Consider that trying to reduce or change the cause of the stress may not be the only answer and that managing your response to it might be another option. Trying to change the fact that your Mom has dementia, or your adolescent kid is defiant and difficult with you, or that the company you work for is being sold and your job security is up in the air – well, that’s a pretty tall order. But what could you do?
Following are some suggestions. Why not take 60 seconds, take a breath, and read them with an open mind? Is there just one thing on this list that you might try to reduce what are known to be damaging chemical responses in your body?
Any of these strategies might change your habitual response and help your nervous system cope with the effect that stress inevitably will have on your well- being. Challenge yourself to pick just one and notice any difference in how you feel.
Try at least one of these for a month (take it a day, or a moment, at a time). It is unlikely that you will not discover some benefit in taking better care of yourself. As we’ve all heard “This is not a dress rehearsal”. It is our only chance to enjoy this life.
Staying up with all the new data that come in can be challenging but that is what we are here for