The keys to good health have so much to do with stress reduction. As I come off of a long weekend break, that I had to give myself and force myself to take, I feel the need to explain to my readers the absolute necessity of reducing your stress levels, for optimal health. Stress is a big issue for me and always has been. Coming from a dysfunctional family, my stress levels have always been high and now I realize how detrimental it has been to my health, to live in a constant state of high stress.
My health has suffered considerably from extreme stress, most of which I inflicted on myself! I spent the better part of my older childhood and teen years walking on eggshells. I never knew what was coming at me next, therefore my mind, body, and emotions stayed in a constant state of fight or flight. Just in case you are not familiar with fight or flight, it is a mechanism that we developed early in our existence, that gave us the ability to be constantly ready to run or fight. Many of us in the constant run and do modern world stay in this state and have no idea! We stay on constant overload and have no idea how to slow down, give ourselves a break, and rest. These are things I have learned to do after many years of illness and many, many hours of counseling.
I have always been ill, as long as I can remember, and I fully believe it is due to the constant state of stress I have been under since I was in the womb. My mother is a high strung person and was in a difficult situation when she was expecting me, that’s where my stress began and it still plagues me 50+ years later. My mother wasn’t on any prenatal Vitamins, didn’t get any prenatal Care, and still to this day claimed she didn’t know she was pregnant until I was born. This stress effected me in ways I still don’t fully know or understand.
I have, however learned to listen to my body and if it says I need to rest, I need stress reduction, then I take time out for me. Has this been an easy lesson to learn and implement, NO! However, it is something I had to learn to heal and to live. So what do I do when my body says enough, I need a break? There are many ways I have learned, experimented with, and used to help myself Stress Less and I want to teach you a few in this article.
1. Give myself a break; I do this by not demanding too much of myself in the first place and if I do, I re-evaluate where I’m at and where I want to be, often. Just stop and ask yourself why am I stressed? What is it in my life that’s causing me unneeded stress? What can I do about it? A Bullit Journal is a great way to do this. (See my earlier article on Journaling your way to health) By keeping a Bullit Journal I can refer back to notes I’ve written, goals I’ve set and I ask myself do they need to be adjusted, things that HAVE to be done, things I’ve gotten done, and things that can be shifted to later. (For example: if I’ve overloaded myself with to do’s that are to lengthy, I move what can be done tomorrow, next week, or next month. I write this type of entry in pencil so I can easily change what I need to.)
2. I Sleep! Yes, sleep, there are times I need extra rest, so I allow myself to rest. There are times I sleep for what seems like days! When I need to sleep a weekend away, I do. I only do whatever must be done! If the laundry gets washed and dried, but not folded and put away, that’s okay! If the house is not clean to “my standards”, which are are high the world isn’t going to end! So I cut what is not not necessary I sleep as much as I need to.
3. Relax; whatever that means for you, for me it is going for a ride on the motorcycle. I love to ride, it’s one of my favorite things to do and very relaxing for me. Your thing might be watching movies, marathon television shows, going shopping, gardening, visiting with friends or family, going out to dinner, reading, or whatever gives you a break and lets your mind disengage and rest. You need this time to let your mind rest, so that when you come back you you can preform at your best.
4. Pets: for me this is a mixed bag in my life right now, I have a dog, who is over 13, who has always been a joy. However, in the last few months his health is going down and this adds more stress to my life not less. This is one of those stressors that I can’t do a lot about. I can however, leave home and go out to dinner or shopping and get a break. However, we have 5- 5 week old kittens, we adopted (see earlier article Life with a blog and 5 kittens). These little guys are fun and funny and if I need a break I just go spend some time with them and I feel better. You may have a dog you like to walk, a cat that lays in your lap, or if you don’t have pets try borrowing one. If you know someone who has a pet, believe me they would be thrilled for you to walk their dog or spend time with their cat and that will help you both, by giving them a break and giving you one of the best stress reducers in the world.
5. I’m going to call this one whatever else: you know what works for you and if you don’t well, start kissing some frogs. What do I mean by this? You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the handsome prince and the same applies to what works best for you to relax. Some suggestions: massage therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, hot bath (try adding some Epsom salt and a few drops of essential oil), long walk, yoga, listen to music (I love country, but try relaxation CD’s for a change), and I could go on and on. You get the idea, just keep looking until you find what works for you.
I know this may sound simple and you are probably thinking, are you kidding? I have a fulltime job, children, a husband, meals to cook, and a house to clean. Please take it from me, now older and wiser, do what you have to, leave what you can, if you serve a can of soup and a quick salad for dinner sometimes that’s okay. If the laundry and dishes wait till tomorrow, the world won’t stop turning! But if you don’t stop and stress less, the day will come you will wish you had. I know if I had heeded this advice years ago, I would not be so sick and tired today. I pushed myself past my body, mind, and emotional limits for years and now I have no choice but to stress less, because if I don’t I will quickly be physically sick and in bed trying to get back on my feet. If there were anything I could change this would be it! I would love myself more and stress less!