How to Stop Stress from Ruining Your Life

 

You only have to glance through the news stories on this website to see how much strife and turbulence there is in the world today. People are increasingly worried about the troubles both in their own countries and across the globe, and every day seems to bring new threats and sad news stories.

Daily living can also be a highly stressful experience, with the pressures of responsibilities, careers, finances, and families to manage. It’s little wonder then that the problem of chronic stress is rising to epidemic proportions. If you’re trying to cope with a busy life, and everywhere you turn there are headlines about terrorist threats and the likelihood of war, food shortages, and catastrophic weather events, you’re quite likely to get overloaded and find yourself chronically stressed. What can you do to deal with this problem?

Understanding stress

The first stage in dealing with stress is to understand what it is and why it’s important. The reason you get stressed is that your brain is detecting some kind of threat, and wants to prepare your body to fight or run away. When this reaction first evolved, threats would have been things like wild animals who wanted to eat you, whereas now, threats take many forms and are often psychological rather than physical; you get stressed about winning a significant contract rather than being eaten by a tiger, for instance.

Stress in itself isn’t harmful, in fact, it’s an important defense mechanism that protects you from possible dangers and gives you physical and mental advantages when playing sports or undertaking difficult tasks.

The problem is when you feel under threat all the time, and instead of being a temporary state, stress becomes permanent. That means the hormones that your body releases when it’s stressed don’t get a chance to dissipate, and you’re constantly under their influence. When stress becomes chronic, it can harm your body and mind, so finding ways to relieve stress are essential for health and happiness.

What’s causing your chronic stress?

If you want to reduce stress, you have to know where it’s coming from. What events in your life increase your stress levels? It’s often more to do with communication and perception than anything else, for example, if you’re having problems at work, is it because you don’t understand what you’re supposed to be doing? Does reading the news every day wind you up into a stressed state because you’re worrying about events you have no control over?

How can you resolve the causes of stress in your life?

Once you pinpoint the cause of the stress, think about what you can do to alleviate it. Can you talk to your boss or colleagues at work? Clearing the air, asking for help, booking onto a training course; these could all resolve your work issue for you. You might not want to stop reading the news, and in fact, that may not help too much, because you’ll probably worry about what you imagine could be going on even if you don’t know what’s actually going on!

If you’re a worrier, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial in reducing your stress levels. One of the central tenets of CBT is the reality check. Thinking about what it is you’re afraid of, and being realistic about the chances of this event taking place. It might sound simplistic, but it can be highly effective, especially if you see a skilled CBT therapist.

 

  • Meditation and mindfulness

 

Many people find it difficult or almost impossible to switch off and feel their brains are working overtime night and day. Meditation techniques, of which mindfulness is simply a modern version, have been used by humans for thousands of years with great success, yet many people still shy away from trying to meditate. This is a shame, because there are many ways to meditate, and it’s an ability that comes naturally to people even if they’re unaware of it.

Meditation is simply a technique for quietening and clearing the mind, and doesn’t have to have a spiritual element to it at all if you don’t want it to. It’s worth at least having a look and giving it a go, perhaps trying a ten-minute mindfulness exercise or listen to a meditation recording – you’ll find plenty of these for free online.

 

  • Occupying your mind elsewhere

 

Another way to clear your mind is to occupy yourself with something that demands your full attention. This isn’t the same as keeping busy, because you can mow the lawn or dust the house and your brain will still be whirling and worrying. What you need is something completely engrossing that leaves no room in your mind for any other thoughts. If your brain is clear, your body has a chance to stop the constant flow of stress hormones and thus relieve your chronic stress.

 

  • Hobbies and pastimes

 

Hobbies and pastimes are an excellent way of occupying your mind if you have a passionate interest in a topic. Collectors, for example, can become so engrossed in their collections they lose themselves for hours in research, looking for more info about their baseball memorabilia, or browsing auction websites looking for new items they need for their collections. Think about your own interests and all the topics you feel passionate about. Sports are a great place to start because fans are often obsessively enthusiastic about their favorite teams, so if you’re a massive Red Sox fan, see how you could use this enthusiasm to divert your mind away from your everyday stresses.

 

  • Taking a break

 

Don’t forget the importance of resting and taking time out from work and responsibility now and then. No-one can work non-stop and not burn out eventually, and struggling on will only make matters worse. Give yourself a chance to recuperate and treat yourself to a day doing whatever you enjoy every so often. You’ll be healthier and happier as a result.

You can’t solve the world’s problems on your own, and worrying about life doesn’t do you or anyone else any good, so tackle your stress before it ruins your life.

Comments

What Next?

Recent Articles