As we all know life in the big world can become very stressful and given cause some people to develop emotional and psychological problems that can haunt them the rest of their lives if not correct as soon as possible. Stress is dangerous and it can cause a lot of damage if you don’t know how to manage it and keep it to a minimum.
Life is full of changes and adjustments, the road is going to be bumpy and a little stress is Ok, but chronic and severe stress can damage your body and mind, blocking the fluid communication to and from most organs--especially in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and in the limbic system, the brain's emotional center. Believe me; you want these two systems running as smoothly as possible, with low levels of the delinquent stress hormones in your bloodstream. This is why I have created some tips to help you. Here are 10 of my favorites that I created just for you.
1. Make things easier - Cut your task list in half. You’re probably thinking, yeah right! How am I supposed to do that? Well, I’ll tell you. Ask yourself this question after every item: Will life end if this does not get accomplished? I am guessing you will get a lot of no's. Every morning I write down my task list because with my memory I will forget to do half of them if I don’t write them down. Then I look at the list and as soon as I start feeling some anxiety and I begin feeling stressed, the list is cut in half immediately.
2. Focus on the important tasks -Let's say you've got five interviews you have to go to next week, the down payment for the rent is due and you have to go food shopping for the kids, You have your wife's 40th birthday celebration to plan, and your sister's asking you to babysit the kids. What do you do? You record all the tasks on a sheet of paper or on your computer and you give each one a number between rating the importance of each task from 1 to 10: 10 being the most important (life threatening) to one being the least important. Start with the 10s. If you never get beyond the number 8, that's okay!
3. Use Pencil for your task list, and toss the pens in the drawer - If you rely on your task list as much as I do, then you will want to start using pencil instead of pen. Because one important stress buster is to try to stay as flexible as you can. Things change! Change is a good thing it is not our enemy, even though our brain categorizes it as such. Many people fear change, but by fearing change you are only prolonging you are chances of reaching success. Most of all, you are making your road to a smooth transition into the civilian world a rocky one. You want to be able to erase a task or reminder at any time, because who knows what your day will be like. Take it one day at a time, hour by hour minute by minute. Organize and schedule, but just realize that change can occur at anytime and there is no need to stress over it. Where there is a problem, there is a solution standing near-by.
4. Give Away Your super hero costume - If you have not already guessed by now, you are not a super hero and don't possess supernatural qualities and capabilities. I'm sorry, but you are going to have to join the real world as one of us... not one of the incredibles. This means surrendering to limitations and conditions-10 tasks in 24 hours is a huge accomplishment.
5. Collaborate and Cooperate – Get rid of that military pride and learn how to ask for help when you need it. Having a few, helping hands around you can take a lot of stress off your back and let them know that you are there for them when they need help. If you return the favors, you won’t feel guilty.
6. Laugh - Just as chronic and severe stress can damage organic systems in our body, laughter and humor can heal the body and soul. When people laugh, the autonomic nervous system mellows out and the heart is allowed to relax. Laughter can also boost the immune system, as it has been proven that laughter increases a person's ability to fight viruses and foreign cells, and reduce the levels of three stress hormones: cortisol, epinephrine, and dopac. Plus it's just fun to laugh. What is life without a little laughter and enjoyment? Laughing and having a good, old time helps get rid of stress.
7. Exercise - Exercise relieves stress in several ways. First, cardiovascular workouts stimulate brain chemicals that foster growth of nerve cells. Second, exercise increases the activity of serotonin and/or norepinephrine. Third, a raised heart rate releases endorphins and a hormone known as ANP, which reduces pain, induces euphoria, and helps control the brain's response to stress and anxiety. You don’t have to be an Olympian or a workout trainer. A quick leisurely walk in the morning or in the evening might be just enough to tell the stress hormones in your blood to get the hell out of there! The new relaxed you has just entered!
8. Stop trying to do more than one thing a time - I realize some multi-tasking is to be expected in the society we live in. Nevertheless, do we really have to try to rush home from work, cook dinner, talk to Mom, help with homework, and check emails? Rome wasn’t built in a day, and really does any task turn out great when it’s rushed and thrown together? Try your best to concentrate on one activity at a time.
9. Work within your limits - Speaking of activities, develop some limitations, IMMEDIATELY--meaning assign a place and time for certain things so that your head doesn't explode. I thought this was impossible until I made myself follow some limitations I created for myself. My stress level has decreased tremendously since I set limitations for myself and now I can focus on the things that matter the most in my life. Hint, hint!!!
10. Envision the whole picture not just you – We all tend to pity and feel sorry for ourselves. It’s an easy trap to fall into, just remember everyone suffers at some point and everyone has problems. Sometimes if we take a minute to think of the people who have it worse than we do, we begin to realize we don’t have it so bad after all. We begin to stop pitying ourselves and we begin to look at life more positively. Remember, being positive is the only way to succeed on your journey to a happy, healthy and productive life.
Life is too short…don’t waste your time stressing…learn to enjoy your life each day…who knows what tomorrow will bring.