Many days, our busy and demanding lives can often feel like too much. Work piles up, bills need to be paid, you have a fight with your partner and suddenly life consumes you. Today we discuss stress, a familiar, widespread issue with many contributing factors. It can express itself in many different forms; worry, irritability, moodiness, agitation or lack of control, just to name a few. How do you currently handle these emotions? Is it the most effective method for yourself, and the people around you? Do you wish you could just…. stress less?
On top of our everyday demands and challenges, expectations of our own accomplishments, achievements and milestones, burden us like no previous generation. With the simple click of a button, we judge our lives, to that of the rest of the world. Through the Internet, media and glossy magazines, we look romantically to the lives of others, to the products we don’t possess, the houses we don’t own, or the perfection that seems so easily attainable to everyone except us. And this leaves us feeling unaccomplished, dissatisfied and disappointed. And as our days are consumed trying to do it all, be it all, in order to get it all, it is no wonder that when the mortgage is overdue, or we burn the dinner, that we can feel overwhelmed, hopeless and stressed out. ‘I can’t even get dinner right!’ she/he cries.
Not much can be done to shelter us from the world of money, beauty, advertising or perfection. Aspirational living has simply become a part of our culture. But if we begin to focus less on the outside world and more on our personal strengths, short-term goals and the things we truly value in life, we start becoming the creators of our own aspirations. Our short-term goals are measurable and authentic, and will develop into our long-term goals. And with each week, month, year, we will come to realise our triumphs. Triumphs we dictated.
As we continue self-reflection, and realise our strengths, it is important to evaluate the things that make us happy and acknowledge the things that we value. What makes us smile? What makes us calm? When do we feel most at peace? Exercising regularly, sleeping well or a balanced diet, are just some common examples known to counteract stress. ‘How on earth do I have time for that!?’ explains the overburdened worker. Well, you make time. You make it a priority. A person can experience greater fulfillment, productivity and enjoyment from all aspects of their life by making time for a few simple activities. Find something that balances you, and schedule this into your routine. As we all know and have experienced, in a state of stress, disarray and overwhelming chaos, intended productivity can often be counter-productive. You rush your work, make errors, and struggle to maintain good relationships with the people around you. Not being happy with your final result, and having spent most of the day fixing your mistakes, do you still not have time for that little bit of extra sleep, or the 30 minutes of exercise each day?
Unfortunately, there can be occasions where there isn’t time for stress prevention. It can come out of the blue or be thrown upon you without a word of warning. How do we deal with this? Friends give advice such as ‘calm down’, ‘take it easy’ or ‘don’t worry about it’, and while their comforting words are valued, they fail to give direction in dealing with the stress or issue. So we try and fix it ourselves. But to manage something we haven’t taken the time to understand, can be inefficient and exhausting. So unfortunately we look to short-term solutions – Quick fixes that serve as a distraction for a small period of time. Some people over-eat, some people lash out, gamble, drink or sit there pulling their hair out, at a complete loss. We go into survival mode, do what we can to get through the day, the next, and the next. However, to continue like this would be like banging your fist on a broken television, when what we really need to do is take a look inside and find out what’s really causing the screen to fade in and out.
Friends and loved ones are important companions in our times of need. Speaking with them can help us find clarity and perspective on the issues we face, although ultimately, only we can be the driving force for change. True understanding of oneself, through continued self-reflection and positive action, is fundamental in providing us with the skills to control our stressors. And inevitably, as our skills improve, the stress that used to override our happiness, decisions and health, will no longer factor in our lives. Roosevelt said ‘Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent’. When you let stress determine your decisions and take charge of your life, not only do you consent to feeling inferior, you encourage it. Make today the day you don’t consent.
There is more to life than increasing its speed. ~Mohandas K. Gandh