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Monday, November 10, 2014

S.T.R.E.S.S...


Stress is a major topic of concern these days and rightfully so.  It has been statistically proven to be the number one factor linking together multiple causes for disease and accidents as well as a host of other negative incidents throughout our lives.  Stress is defined by Merriam Webster as: 


a : the burden on one's emotional or mental well-being created by demands on one's time.
So, as I sat and studied this ominous word staring at me from the computer screen, I decided to make it into an acronym based on how it has affected my life and how it ultimately led to my insanity.  This was my result:
    Steadily
     Taking
     Responsibility 4
     Every
     Single
     Situation
I now have an acronym defining the way I used to live my life.  This was a great exercise for me and I heartily recommend that everyone give it a try.  Think about what causes the most stress in your life and make an acronym out of it.  Write it on a post-it and stick it to your computer or on a mirror; some place your frequent during the day.
The root of stress is caused by two factors, first a colossal lack of time management and second, the inability to know how to prioritize.  Life is time. We are born with a predetermined amount of time on this earth and any time spent in stressful, negative situations is time wasted, which results in stress.  I think that we all know deep down inside, that we waste time on things that don't make us happy, and we do them anyway, i.e., jobs we settle for because the money is good but that don't really fulfill us, relationships we stay in because we don't feel we are strong enough to leave them and move on, negative habits we don't think we can change for the better, etc.  Think of your life and ask yourself what you could do that would really make you gut-wrenchingly happy, no matter how difficult you think it would be to manage, and DO it!!!  
Now let's talk about priorities...healthy priorities.  We need to understand that just because we have been programmed to believe that happiness comes from working for the government to pay for a roof over our heads and food and clothes and cars and bills, doesn't mean it is what life is meant to be.  I believe countries like Italy have the right idea. They work, but they take as much time as they want during a day to nap, eat, make love, spend time with families and friends and relax.  They put those things above money and greed and they are healthier because of it.  They don't call us "crazy Americans" for no reason.
In my research I found some ways to manage stress and I wanted to share them.  I visited the Time Thoughts website and they suggest the following:
"Take up a new hobby or sport. Find something that you like to do and turn it into a hobby. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it distracts your mind from the pressures of the day. You could join a social group and meet people with the same passions.
Help out with a charity. Charities are always looking for volunteers to help with events and collecting. Find a charity that you are passionate about and donate a few hours to helping them in the community. You might meet people with more serious problems than yourself in which case you may see that things could be a lot worse!
Get physical. Doing physical jobs like gardening or DIY can be a great way to vent pent up energy and frustrations. This will relieve stress and improve the look of your home.
Exercise your stress away. Any physical exercise causes the brain to release chemicals called endorphins that elevate mood and calm the nerves. Getting fit and healthy also decreases the chances that you will suffer from a serious stress-related illness in the future. Join a running or cycling club and forget about work and family for a few hours a week.

Alternatively, if you don’t fancy anything physical why not try one of the following:
Deep breathing and muscle relaxation
This is a relaxation technique in which you concentrate on controlling your breathing and the tension in your muscles. By consciously contracting a specific set of muscles while you inhale and then fully relaxing the muscles as you exhale you can systematically relax the whole body. Concentrating on relaxation will also distract your mind from the stresses of the day.
Take time to read
It doesn't matter what you read as long as it takes you away from your life for a while and allows you to experience some other world. Novels and autobiographies are particularly good for diverting your thoughts away from the stresses and worries of the day.
Learn to meditate
The art of meditation is easy to learn and as it allows you to suspend your thoughts for a period of time it is great for forgetting about the pressures that you are under.
Vacation away
Take a vacation and don’t leave a contact number! Go somewhere that suits you and really let your hair down. It doesn’t matter if you hire a log cabin in the middle of nowhere or whether you have a fortnight in Ibiza as long as you forget all about your everyday life while you’re there. You will come back refreshed and ready to face the stressful parts of your life head on.
Most of these techniques for relaxation are quick and easy to do so that they can be done on a daily basis. Don’t let your stresses build up otherwise even the best relaxation methods won’t be able to help."
I also came to understand that more important than planning what to DO during a day, is planning what NOT to do.  Plan NOT to take on other peoples' problems...plan NOT to look any further into the future than the moment in front of you...plan NOT to set your goals so high that you feel you let yourself down...plan NOT to take on more than you know you can comfortably handle, and so on.
B+(be positive)...take baby steps...learn to live stress free.


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