Handling Stress — Part I of III

9 Apr

Although we have more technical devices to help us in our work and with our tasks at home, this second decade of the 21st century probably brings along with it more stress than ever. In addition to dealing with our snail mail, telephone calls, and bills, there is still e-mail to be read and answered, instant messaging, and technical instructions for just about everything we buy! It is also most important to read the labels on all the food (and other) products we buy to ensure that we are applying the principles of healthy nutrition.

In addition, families are often spread out across the entire country or even abroad. Just keeping in touch, not to mention providing some needed support from time to time, can be major obstacles. THEN THERE ARE RELATIONSHIPS! Both at home and at work, relationships can be fraught with miscommunication, including overt or covert anger, passive-aggression, resentment, hurt, etc. If these feelings are allowed to “simmer,” they too can produce unendurable stress.

In this article, I am going to suggest some helpful ways which YOU may be able to utilize to reduce your stress level. Remember, STRESS IS YOUR SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE. The stressors may be internal thoughts or runaway emotions you are experiencing; the stressors may also be external events to which you are responding in an unhelpful way. So, here goes with the first few thoughts I have on how better to manager your stressors:

1. Choose options that are realistic. Some things are to be understood and changed. Others are to be understood and accepted. This is a paraphrasing of the Serenity Prayer of Reinhold Niebhur: “Lord, grant me the courage to change what I can; the serenity to accept what I cannot; and the wisdom to know the difference.

2. Maintain a sense of humor. “Life is far too important to take serioiusly,” said the wise playwright Oscar Wilde. Or, alternatively put, the reason that angels fly is that they take themselves so lightly! There is a whole series of books based on the first one, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” A hundred years from now, few of us will be personally remembered, yet we can experience daily satisfaction in our lives by maintaining perspective and a sense of humor — especially about ourselves and our own foibles.

3. Reduce the burden of stress by stress inoculation. A major stressor may be reduced by breaking it down into tasks which can be mastered over time. For example, many persons dislike the holidays (or the upcoming spring season of graduations and weddings) because of the complicated details in preparing for such events. If you start now — in April — to plan for a June graduation and keep the plans within budgetary limits, you may be able to pull off a great event. Remember, though, that caterers and event locations are limited!

4. Be assertive. The great rabbi Hillel taught his students, “If I am not for myself, who is for me? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” Stress increases when we look to others to make things happen, or simply sit back and wait. This makes us victims of circumstances. BE PROACTIVE RATHER THAN SIMPLY REACTIVE! Taking control and acting on an issue reduces stress by working off the energy accompanying stress and by enchancing self-esteem.

I sincerely hope that these hints for dealing with stress make sense to you and that you will try to utilize them in the upcoming weeks. I will be continuing this theme in my next post. Meanwhile, if you would like a more personalized approach, please feel free to call us at Beyond the Horizons at 505-466-4990. Enjoy the present moment, and thanks for reading!

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