It is most important for us to recognize that the subject of stress is complex enough to lend itself to an entire book. (Now that I think about it-it’s not a bad idea!) Most of the literature that we have researched has examined stress within the content of encouraging you to avoid it. I strongly believe that stress cannot be avoided and that is why our presentations are typically entitled, “Stress Management.” As it has been said so often, “stress is as inevitable as death, taxes,” and the fact that the shortest line at the grocery store will also take the longest time. I encourage you to focus on managing it on a daily basis as opposed to expending resources trying to avoid it. Stress can be caused by both pleasant and unpleasant situations. We are most familiar with Distress, which is caused by bad or unpleasant situations and fears. Eustress, on the other hand, is associated with good, pleasant situations or anticipation. Distress is fairly easy to identify. It may be manifested more frequently in situations where anxiety and worry become dominant in your thought pattern. When we worry, the images that are sent to the subconscious are those that depict the worst possible outcomes. As a result, our body will physiologically react by increasing the heartbeat, making the lungs work harder and significantly slowing down the digestive system. A number of other internal reactions may occur and all of them will be preparing us for the “fight or flight” syndrome. In Eustress, the mere anticipation of something pleasant can create feelings and reactions associated with stress. A pending wedding or home purchase are positive illustrations that can yield stressful symptoms.
Sources of daily stress are either internally or externally generated. Internal sources would include your own perceptions of any particular situation. These perceptions are molded by our personal experiences, fears and dreams. In fact, a lack of specific goals is one of the most common sources of internal stress. I have always appreciated the example I once heard about a hunter, who goes to the edge of the woods…fires an arrow and exclaims, “I sure hope a deer runs in front of that one!” The hunter that would experience significantly less stress and who is more capable of feeding his family, is the one who establishes a goal and waits until an opportunity presents itself before firing. He is the one who knows what it is that he specifically needs to accomplish and has a plan to get there. He is prepared to seize the opportunity when it appears and spends time, prior to that, preparing. That is the undisputed value of expressed written goals. Other areas of internally generated stress are linked to a lack of self-recognition as well as navigating an unbalanced life. External sources of stress can span a variety of topics such as the weather or even the stress that other people are experiencing. We need to be sensitive to the effect that these sources may have on us. In many cases, these are sources of stress for which we have no control over.
Stress Management techniques will vary from trainer to trainer. Here are a few suggestions that are sure to have value for you. We live now in a society that often promotes selfishness and entitlement. That proves to be a catalyst for stress in many of our lives. Remember that it takes two boxers in the ring to have a match and two dancers on the floor to waltz. The next time you are in a situation of potential conflict with someone else, ask yourself if you are trying to box or waltz. Are your defensive walls up and your armies ready? Are you preparing for war in the ring? For if you refuse to make this an all out battle then it will surely lower the stress level for at least one participant. When you take a stand based on compassion and patience, it actually has positive consequences on your long-term self-esteem as well as to serve to reduce your physiological response to a potentially negative situation. I am sensitive to the fact that this may not always be possible, however we should recognize that it can be our first option in the vast majority of the early stages of stressful confrontations.
Another powerful strategy is to ensure that the body is “well-fueled” for the task of managing stress. Significantly cut back on red meat and eat more vegetables, fruits and breads. Have you ever felt sleepy and groggy after defeating the world’s largest cut of beef? One of the reasons that this occurs is because red meat requires so much more blood for digestion and consequently, other systems of the body are compromised. This denies a rich supply of oxygen to other organs such as the brain. Needless to say, you are more likely to kick into stress mode in those situations. Remember, if the body feels good, then the mind feels good and subsequently that can be one of your strongest tools for Stress Management.
Couple that with regular exercise and the increase in your self-confidence will help to create an anti-stress armor.
Continue to read helpful literature and pursue additional strategies to increase your self-care. It was Dr. Robert Eliot who after a life threatening event said that there are two rules to handling stress in life; “Rule number one, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two, everything is small stuff!”
Remember that the place to start to change the world is in your own heart.