Stress is the plague of the our generation. Pressures at work, school and home leave us feeling tension, anxiety and stress. When we worry, feel overworked and unhappy, sometimes even desperate, stress is to blame. Stress may be the biggest reason we get sick or die prematurely. Every health problem from headaches to heart attacks, from psychosomatic disorders to stroke can be linked to stress. What can you do when you feel stressed out?
Stress, Anxiety and Tension at Home
Personal problems and changes that are out of your control can make you feel stressed out. People feel a lot of stress because of a death in the family, divorce or separation, sickness, or loss of your job. Believe it or not, happy times like marriage, travel and retirement also make you feel stressed out. The structure of the family unit has changed lately. 70% of us say that it is hard to balance our personal and work lives. Since there are fewer stay-at-home parents, Mom and Dad must squeeze child care in between the demands of work. They sacrifice their personal life and recreation time. Many of you feel required to live perfect lives, in perfect homes with perfect little children. Traffic is hectic and the commute time on the road is longer. 90% of all working adults say they are concerned that they do not spend enough time with their families. At home and at work, we are on-call 24 hours a day. Technology like computers, cell phones, texting, voice mail and email, keeps us always online and in touch. There is never a minute we can truly call our own.
Other problems are on your mind, too. You worry about the expense of healthcare, the responsibility of caring for children and the duty of looking after aging parents. Events of national politics and international violence bring more anxiety into your life. Every day is lived with uncertainty, fear and worry.
Your Job Can Make You Feel Stressed Out
There’s stress in the workplace, too. Work demands more of our time and more of our attention. While the work crew and office staff are downsized, the workload keeps growing. The company lays off employees to run leaner and meaner. Job security is nonexistent. You worry about becoming unemployed. So you spend lunchtime at your desk, you work longer hours and you take work home. However, your work is not valued at the company, and hardly anybody at work knows your name.
You try to do more with fewer resources. You must learn your job by the seat of your pants. There is no opportunity for job training. It’s ironic, but in this Information Age, you must make decisions with less information. You are always under deadlines and you become burned out.
Customers, bosses and employees call you around the clock. You’ve been asked to carry a pager day and night so you can be called to work at a moment’s notice. You feel guilty when you turn your cell phone off for some quiet time, or when you don’t check your email for a while.
Symptoms of Stress, Anxiety and Tension
How do you know you’re feeling stress?. There are many symptoms of stress. You worry more. You complain more. People seem crabby and hard to get along with. You may be dealing with depression, insomnia, and family conflicts. You get sick more often with headaches, colds, flu, and general malaise. You fly off the handle and lose your temper at the smallest provocation. After a while on this treadmill, you feel hopeless, despairing and even suicidal. You rely on substances to calm and relax you, like overeating, smoking, alcohol and drugs. These are your coping mechanisms when you feel stressed out.
Some stress is helpful because it encourages us to perform well. But continuous stress with no relief in sight is dangerous. Stress causes physical changes in the body, like shallow breathing, high blood pressure and increased adrenaline output. We are always in a state of readiness. We sense danger and react with the fight-or-flight response. At some point energy is depleted and exhaustion sets in.
Mental and Emotional Symptoms When You Are Stressed Out
People who feel stressed and anxious have worried, negative thoughts. Your ideas become repetitive and obsessive. You develop extreme fears and phobias. You can become confused, unable to concentrate, and indecisive. You are irritable and easily explode in anger and rage. You can’t sleep at night, and when you do sleep you have nightmares. You feel depressed, and you have thoughts of suicide.
Physical Symptoms When You Are Stressed Out
Do you have these symptoms of stress? You get tension headaches. Your muscles are tense and spasmodic. You grind your teeth. You get indigestion and ulcers. You have constipation or diarrhea. The immune system is undermined and you get colds more often. You develop heart palpitations, asthma, high blood pressure and panic attacks. You become accident prone.
What To Do When You Feel Stressed Out
You take a big step forward when you begin to identify the source of your stress and be aware of your body’s reaction to it. Pay attention to how you tense up at certain times. Notice the sense of anxiety and panic. At these times, allow yourself to breath deeply and relax completely. Turn your mind to calm, encouraging thoughts. Remind yourself that this, too, shall pass.
Exercise is the Best Relief When You Feel Stressed Out
Doctors know that the single best cure for stress is exercise. And exercise can mean any activity with muscle movement and good breathing. Walking, working out, pilates, aerobics, basketball swimming, dancing all relieve the stress, anxiety and tension of daily life. Physically, exercise decreases the stress hormones in our body and energizes the body. Mentally, exercise is a tranquilizer, creating feelings of calm and happiness. There are other physiological benefits to exercise, because it strengthens the heart, improves sleep and reduces the risk of diseases. Exercise is the best thing to do when you feel stressed out.
What’s your excuse for not exercising? Not enough time? Not enough energy? Exercise gives you back more energy than it uses. Exercise gives you more time, in the sense that when you relax, you can make better use of your time. Invest a few minutes in the exercise that’s easiest and fun for you. Do a few crunches. Toss a ball around. Walk around the block. Try a few dance steps.
Think positive thoughts about exercise. Remind yourself how much you enjoy being active. Make a commitment to exercise again, and set a time for exercise. With regular exercise, you will not feel stressed out.
Exercise doesn’t require fancy equipment, a club membership or new clothes. Exercise doesn’t demand that you be one of the beautiful, super-sculpted television stars. Exercise works for the average Joe and Jane. Exercise works best when you make it a habit in your life. You dedicate yourself to exercise, you practice every day, and you make it a part of your life.
Decide on a personal exercise goal for yourself. Your goal could be to exercise every day for at least 15 minutes. Your goal could be to walk instead of drive. It helps to record your exercise workouts on a calendar. You’ll devote more time to exercise and accomplish more of your goals, if you keep a record along the way.
Meditation is the Second Best Relief When You Feel Stressed Out
Meditation also relieves stress and anxiety. The purpose of meditation is to slow and quiet the mind. It teaches you to control your thoughts and feelings, so that your impulses and emotions don’t control your life. The benefit of meditation is new mental clarity and calm. Meditation is the conscious act of clearing the mind. You sit alone quietly with your eyes closed, and concentrate on your breathing. You try to banish all other thoughts from your mind. If a stray thought returns, you simply let it move away and return your attention to your breath. Your meditation practice can last a few minutes, and you can gradually built it up to 30 minutes. You can meditate whenever it feels right to you. Many practitioners meditate in the morning immediately upon rising and before going to be at night. Others prefer mini-meditations during short breaks during the day. Don’t try to meditate when you are tired or after a big meal. As with exercise, you affirm your goal to meditate, you practice meditation every day and you make it a part of your life. Promise yourself to try it when you feel stressed out.
There is a body of scientific evidence that supports the benefits of meditation for mental and physical health. After a few sessions, you will notice a sense of relaxation and calm, and a return of energy during the day. Your heart rate will be lower and your breathing slower. Your ability to concentrate will improve. You will notice less stress and anxiety.
Twenty Things to Do When You Feel All Stressed Out
Here are twenty effective things to do when you feel stressed out. They are practical steps and techniques for de-stressing your life.
- Laughter is a powerful cure for stress and anxiety, while at the same time it relieves pain and strengthens the immune system. When you feel stressed out, watch a funny movie.
- Having a strong personal goal and meaningful values will also contribute to stress relief.
- When you feel stressed out, try to live consciously in the moment. Schedule a time just for worry. Remind yourself not to worry until the schedule says it’s time to worry.
- Manage your time better so that you work efficiently and productively.
- Use of a simple timesheet will help you track wasted moments, and give you more control over your day.
- Plan your work and work your plan, so that your day has structure and goals.
- With a to-do list and a schedule, it is easier to avoid procrastination, and the stress that comes with it.
- Weed out unimportant activities from your schedule.
- Discard the paper clutter that swamps you.
- Avoid the people who make you feel stressed. Instead, seek out people with a positive outlook.
- If the evening television news makes you anxious, don’t watch it.
- Count your blessings whenever you feel stressed out.
- Repeat to yourself positive affirmations about the value of your life and your personal worth.
- Extend kindness and charity to help others less fortunate than you.
- Eat healthy food and avoid foods that stress your body, like caffeine, alcohol, heavy fats, sugar and chemical additives.
- Avoid cigarettes, addictive drugs and pharmaceutical drugs with side effects that add to your stress and anxiety.
- Try massage, acupuncture, meditation and relaxation therapies when you feel stressed out.
- Develop hobbies like cooking, gardening, reading and social clubs to distract your attention from stress.
- Spend time at public events, activities and points of interest to fill your life with pleasure.
- Get a pet. Pets are therapeutic antidotes when you feel stressed out.
- Grow closer to the people around you and celebrate life together.
- Get your life together and start to enjoy living again.