The Truth About Stress Relief
A woman recently commented to her friend, "I was planning to exercise today, but I've been too busy at work and too stressed out." A few hours later a harried woman in the grocery line announced, "My car broke down and it's ruined my entire day! I'm so stressed!"
How these women responded to events in their lives had a serious impact on their ability to manage stress. This is because most people consider stress a part of life that happens to them, and believe there is nothing they can do about it.
Whether we like it or not, stress is natural to the human condition. Yet stress can be either a motivator or a killer, depending upon how we respond to it.
Most folks do not recognize that having stress is a choice. Stress is not what happens to us. Stress is created by how we respond to our experiences. Even positive, exciting encounters can be experienced as stressful. The holidays are a perfect example. Some folks dread the holidays and will tell say it's the most stressful time of the year. Others will get misty eyed while speaking of holiday peace, joy, and togetherness. Who's right and who's wrong? Obviously neither. The holiday season became what they each chose it to be.
Most events occur like this:
Outside Action—>Inside Reaction—>Response
Which of these portions of the event do you have control over? Which are likely to cause you stress? And which can help you in coping with stress? That place between the inside reaction and the response is your opportunity to creatively choose a different, stress reducing response.
After a stressful situation people often say, "I had no choice." These folks see others as responsible for their feelings, actions, and behaviors. By doing this, they abdicate responsibility for themselves. It diminishes personal power, confidence, and self-esteem. It creates a life of feeling controlled by others—all stress inducing emotions. A sense of helplessness follows. This behavior can rarely have a happy ending because other people can't run our lives, as we sometimes wish they could.
It is interesting how weight and smoking have a direct connection to how well someone can cope with stress. When the body learns from the mind that things are going badly, the body goes into a protective mode called fight or flight. The body then holds onto or accelerates storage of food to protect against danger or destruction of the body. This is one of the reasons many people gain weight when they don't manage stress. In addition, many folks choose to eat more when under stress, which has a very predictable outcome.
Similarly, when the choice to smoke is a reaction to stress, an addictive cycle is established. Choosing a more creative response such as exercise, self hypnosis, meditation, or talking about the situation or feelings, are all healthy, creative responses.
Here are some specific suggestions for you to try when you are consciously deciding to manage stress and create positive daily experiences:
- Think of stress as the generation of energy. Its purpose is to inspire a creative choice about what to do next.
- Practice belly breathing. Ask a hypnotist to show you how. Learn yoga or meditation. Make stress management a part of our daily routine.
- Learn self hypnosis for profound relaxation.
- Exercise joyfully, knowing that every movement you make is a form of stress relief.
- Break free from your old routines, and then expect a different outcome. Dream up new ways for controlling stress.
- Remember attempting to control other people is frustrating and futile. Letting other people be who there can be an integral part of your stress reduction routine.
- Catch yourself (and others) doing something right. You will not only decrease stress, but also will develop a more optimistic attitude.
- Redefine either negative or positive life events as opportunities.
- Be quick to smile about life's feedback.
- Be even quicker to learn from life's feedback.
- Remember that life is not necessarily one thing after another. It may be one thing over and over until the lesson is learned.
- Remember that life is about learning, loving, laughing, and living in the moment. Suffering is optional.
- If you don't like or enjoy what is happening, take self-responsibility for changing things. When you do, you'll be coping with stress without even trying.
- Be creative in generating options in any situation. You are only limited by your self-imposed limitations. Being in a place of choice is the best stress relief technique you can have.