“It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there’s nothing you can do about them, and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.” Wayne Dyer
Are you stressed out? How do you know?
It wasn’t long ago I was talking to a young adult who was facing criminal charges for domestic violence. He was stressed out. His day started in the early morning and didn’t really end when classes let out at 10:00pm. When he got home he faced an angry wife who would hand him his young child. Already exhausted from a long hard day, his next job was to care for his child. His life frayed and eventually it broke, the stress was too much. He lost his job, his family was falling apart and he was clearly struggling to figure out what to do next.
Stress, not dealt with can result in anger, sadness, grief, or withdrawal. When unmitigated stress results in anger or violence then it becomes serious and the issue of stress really needs to be addressed.
What do you do when you notice that the stress is taking over your life?
In another situation it was work. It was the kind of work that required a high attention to detail and providing an accurate assessment of the findings. The result of making a mistake could result in life serious life change for the client. Long hours, exacting detail and a mistake could mean the loss of the career, a career that paid very well and required years of training. The stress started gnawing away at life for this person, less exercise, poor diet and a desire to just “get away”. The family situation started to decay and anger and frustration was becoming the normal pattern of life. Was there a way to lower the stress?
When do you start to evaluate what stress is doing in your life? Often people wait until things reach the breaking point before taking action, or creating the healthy habits that help manage stress. What do you do?
Imagine walking out on your family after years of watching your wife abuse prescription drugs. Walking out without a job, a place to sleep or a car and with some serious dietary problems. Again, stress reaches deep and causes people to react in ways that don’t seem to make sense. The stress builds and builds and with one more stressful event a person snaps. They react in anger and make choices that make life even more difficult than they were before.
It would be great to say that these people got their lives under control and that they were dealing with less stress rather than more. For the first person the criminal justice system may decide that jail time would be best for this young man and from there his life could get worse. The second person is slipping away from anger into withdrawal, the pain and stress of both work and family life and other situations are robbing him of his ability to lower his total stress. The last person, found a car and was looking for work, and maybe slowly he will rebuild his life.
If the stress had been dealt with earlier perhaps the story would have changed. In all cases if the family support structure was stronger the levels of stress each of these people experienced could have been lowered.
Steps to manage stress
1. Take inventory of stress in your life. List all the things you are aware that are stressing you. Then rate each item from 1-10, 1 = Low, 10 = high. Look at items with stress levels of 1 – 3 and see if those can be eliminated. The big stresses take a lot of work, so work on the little ones and get rid of them.
2. Decide what you will start saying “No” to. It is easy to add into life more activity and more things to do and that just adds to the stress burden. If you are trying to take steps for a better future and it includes managing a family, going to school and working full-time make sure you have the support you need from family , friends and employers to properly manage the stress.
3. Eat right, get enough sleep and exercise. Often people who are living lives that include a lot of stress give up sleep, starting eating junk food and not getting any exercise. The things that matter to the body, sleep, exercise and diet are the first things that are taken out of the daily routine.
4. Get help. Get help early so that new habits can be created to deal with stress. It may be help from a professional, a coach or gaining commitment and support from friends and family.
5. Think about today, be present. A lot of stress is created when there is worry about the future. Do what you can do today, just today, and work on that. Worrying about the future produces no useful results now.
Stress, what is it costing you?
Are you working in a high stress environment? Are you struggling with family issues? Are you cramming more into your life than you can actually commit to? Are you getting angry more often? Are small things suddenly big things?
What is stress costing you? What price will you be paying by not dealing with the stress in your life?
Resources for dealing with stress
If you desire to take proactive steps in managing stress working with a life coach would be another option.
Take time out, time to relax, to get away from the daily grind. Find some time to be at peace with yourself. Take time to smell the flowers.
“If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey toward the stars?”