Stress is part of everyday life. But when the pressure starts to grind us down and cause health and personal problems it’s time to make a change. We all know that stress can bring on heart disease, stomach issues, ulcers, depression, and relationship issues. Just reading that sentence can stress us out!
Sometimes we think about something worrisome and get that sick-to-the-stomach feeling. We don’t think clearly. Stress keeps us up at night.
So what can we do?
Instead of allowing the stress to control us, let’s try to take back control and live life better. We can then eliminate unnecessary tensions and deal with those pressures we must face more effectively.
We parent with half an eye, work with half an ear, and live with half a heart.
We are in an endless state of mental congestion. We cannot hear ourselves think. We go to a wedding, graduation, family dinner, or vacation in a beautiful place, but we are only half there. Our minds are somewhere else; longing to check the blackberry or iPhone just one more time. When we are constantly distracted, it becomes impossible to function well. We parent with half an eye, work with half an ear, and live with half a heart. The pressure of being perpetually on call takes its toll and does not allow us space to breath.
In Ethics of the Fathers it is written: “All my days I have found nothing better than silence.” Let’s begin by finding some moments to regain peace and quiet in our day. Take the plunge and unplug.
- RID YOURSELF OF PUTDOWNS
A lot of stress has to do with the way we see ourselves. When we give ourselves negative messages and put ourselves down we lower our sense of self and destroy our own self esteem. We can become our own worst enemy.
“I can’t believe I’m such an idiot.”
“What was I thinking? I’ll never be able to do this!”
“That’s it; I really messed up this time. I’m finished.”
Remove the negative eye – it will only stress you out. Stop demeaning yourself. Replace detrimental self-statements with positive ones. Start believing in yourself.
And if you do happen to make a mistake and fall, pick yourself up and start anew. This is true strength.
- STOP PROCRASTINATING
Sometimes we have a problem that feels so overwhelming, we just can’t deal with it. So we push it off. We leave it for tomorrow. And then tomorrow comes but we push it off again. Putting off a problem only causes us to worry more. We toss and turn all night imagining the ‘what ifs’, and everything seems so much more troublesome. The night feels suffocating.
Falling behind can make the situation worse. Most problems are not as awful as you think. And even if you believe the situation is insurmountable, at least you can attempt to take some small steps in the right direction and feel empowered as you try. When you make an effort to confront your fear, you will not feel as overwhelmed. And you may even be surprised to find a solution within reach with those you thought you could not approach.
- GUARD YOUR HEALTH
It is a mitzvah in the Torah to watch over and take care of our God–given bodies. Stress depletes us of our energy. We turn to carbs and high fat foods to refuel. (Read standing in front of an open freezer with a pint of Hagen Daaz Caramel Cone Explosion in hand). But the quicker we refill, the quicker we crash. Instead of loading up at night and waking up with extra pounds and regrets, get your body moving. Take the stairs and not the elevator. Go for a walk or a quick jog. Our bodies produce endorphins when we exercise. They are natural mood boosters that can help reduce stress levels. Even dance around the living room. Any little bit of activity can help.
Get your body moving and make time to do something fun.
Make time for the activities you enjoy. Do something fun. Listen to music, ride a bike, attend the class you’ve always wanted to join. Be sure to set aside moments each day for prayer and reflection.
- SEE THE GOOD
Come on, it’s not all bad all the time. Of course it’s easier to see the dark side and fall into despair. But you do have some good going on, you just need to open your eyes and stop complaining.
“My in-laws are coming for the weekend, I can’t take it.”
“These Sunday carpools with the kids are driving me crazy. I am so stressed out from them.”
“My baby was up crying the whole night. I’m ready to explode.”
Well, at least you have family to share your life with!
“My boss is nuts! He is a pressure cooker.”
Thank God you have a job!
It’s all how you see the situation. Will you focus on the good or just always be a complainer?
The more we complain, the more stressed we feel.
Happiness and a ‘feel good‘ mentality is in our hands.
- ALLOW PEOPLE IN
It is a mistake to cut yourself off from those who care about you. You may be overwhelmed, even ashamed of your situation, but those who love you want to stand by your side. Don’t be an island onto yourself. You will wake up one day and wonder what happened. Where did all the people in my life go and why does my phone never ring? I am not speaking about those thousand friends on facebook. I am talking about that one friend or family member, who would cross oceans for you, who feels your pain as if it’s his own, who sheds a tear for your sorrow. You will experience joy again but what a pity to have lost those who love you on the way.
When we focus on our problems 24/7, we allow stress to control our lives. No one is perfect and none of us will have perfect lives. Set reasonable expectations and know that this is all part of living. Take charge of those challenges that you can control. Let go of that which is beyond you.