All of us have to accept some anxieties.
Back in the day, when I was working all the hours God sends, I suffered terribly from the effects of stress. Everyone around me suffered too because I was bad-tempered, impatient, irritable and moody.
We all experience stress, to a greater or lesser degree. In fact without some stress we couldn’t function ~ our minds and bodies need a little stress to feel alive. However, too much stress is bad, and far too much stress can kill you.
Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one. ~ Hans Selve
The proximate causes of stress and distress vary from person to person, but the usual suspects are: Bad News, City Life, Too Many People, Mindless Bureaucracy, Being Discriminated Against, Bullying, Work, The Rushing Woman’s Syndrome, Dysfunctional Relationships, Failed Relationships, Sex, Sexual Dysfunction, and the Death of Someone Close to You. And then you might have your own particular reason to feel that you’re under intolerable stress. Of course, there is also a chance that you are seriously mentally ill with something like Borderline Personality Disorder.
People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement. ~ Marsha M. Linehan.
The warning signs that stress is adversely affecting your mental and physical health are;
- Apathy and Depression
- Chest pains
- Drinking too much
- Inability to relax
- Intolerance of and over-reacting to noise and disturbance
- Irritability and a bad temper
- Lack of concentration / brain fog / poor memory
- Palpitations (oh Gods, did I suffer from heart palpitations!)
- Tiredness and an inability to get things done
The symptoms associated with stress are in themselves so distressing that they are likely to make you even more stressed.
Many of us will approach our doctor if we feel under intolerable stress and are suffering from one or more of the very serious symptoms listed above. What your doctor is most likely to do is prescribe you some powerful psychoactive drugs; Celexa, Cymbalta, Klonopin, Lexapro, Librium, Paxil, Prozac, Tofranil Valium, Viibyrd, Wellbutrin, Xanax, Zoloft… to name but a few of the very powerful chemicals your doctor could give you.
All of these drugs come with a load of side-effects, from tiredness, to sexual dysfunction, to feelings of dread, to wanting to commit suicide… Reading the leaflets that come with these drugs can be a very sobering experience. In my experience these drugs will either detach you from reality so you don’t worry about anything at all, or they will have an adverse effect.
If you’re lucky, then your doctor will also / instead refer you to some ‘talking therapy’ such as; Cognitive Analytic Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Counselling, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Gestalt, Group Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness, and Psychoanalysis. Alternatively you could take yourself off to a 12-step group like Alcoholics Anonymous.
I love going to my AA meetings and I don’t think I will ever stop. ~ Davina McCall
Drugs act fast, but all they do is mask the symptoms and make you ill from the nasty side-effects. Talking therapies and 12-step meetings will eventually make you well again ~ but the key word there is ‘eventually.
So what can you do to help yourself overcome stress?
Breathing is good. I mean slow deliberate breathing with serene and peaceful visualisations is good.
When I was under extreme stress I would take myself off to somewhere quiet, maybe into a church or public garden or down to the beach, stand or sit, or lie down comfortably, and really slow down my breathing, and at the same time I would breathe very deeply. Concentrating on my breathing I would listen to the sound of each breath, imagining it was the gentle sound of soft surf washing in and out on a white sandy beach under a blue sky. My breathing in and out exactly matched the sea gently washing in and out. After just a few minutes of this breathing exercise I always felt immeasurably more peaceful, and ready to face the next thing the day was going to throw at me.
Learning how to relax is the cornerstone of helping yourself to overcome stress.
‘Ha!’ You say; ‘If I knew how to relax I wouldn’t be so stressed…’
Breathing exercises are recommended by doctors and psychiatrists everywhere as a method of relaxation to overcome stress and anxiety.
Being better organised also helps alleviate stress. The best way to begin being better organised is to start writing things down, keep a journal, keep your diary and day-planner up to date, make lists, always have a to-do list, never go shopping without a shopping list… If you think of something you need to do, write it all down and then stop worrying about it.
Break big tasks into a number of smaller parts, and write a list of those smaller tasks with the date and time they need to be completes ~ then stop worrying about it all.
Learn how to say NO. Being at everyone else’s beck and call all the time is a sure-fire way to put yourself under extreme stress.
Stop using social media first thing in the morning, or late at night, and especially don’t look at crap like Twitter and Facebook when you are pressed for time.
Get plenty of good quality sleep. It’s hard to sleep when you’re under stress. If you really have insomnia, then it may be worth asking your doctor for something to help you sleep. But only rely on sleeping medication for a couple of weeks ~ these drugs are addictive.
Make reducing the stress in your life your #1 project, something you practice all the time, every single damn day.
Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not. ~ Valerie Bertinelli.
And please, please don’t resort to booze or recreational drugs, they make things worse very fast, and you can trust me on that one.
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