Stress. We hear a lot about Kenyans in Diaspora being under stress. A dictionary describes stress as “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.”
Truth is no one is exempt. Everyone on planet earth goes through different types of stress. Positive stress is good. It produces the flight or flee hormones, increases productivity, and strengthens our bodies. Zero stress can leave us unproductive, performing beyond our potential and even depressed.
But excess stress over extended periods can lead to serious health problems. High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, depression and mental issues, sexual dysfunction , sleep disorders, obesity substance abuse, excessive fear and anger leading to domestic violence, ulcers and even cancer to name but a few.
Because our bodies give off signals when the scales are tipping from good to bad stress, we have a choice. To pay attention and manage the pressure, or let stress overload destroy our lives, families and even lead us to an early grave.
In my book 7 Steps to success- How to Set and Achieve Your Goals, I emphasize the importance of having fitness and health goals. If we are going to achieve our dreams, and enjoy our families and have balanced success we need a healthy body. Some things don’t came with a price tag…
There are easy ways we can manage tension, enjoy the short story and the 10 easy ways to de-stress.
The Glass of Water
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience.
As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired:
“How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it.
If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”
She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water.
Think about them for a while and nothing happens.
Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt.
And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.” –
It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. In short, just remember to put the glass down from time to time. – Author Unknown
Here are my 10 easy ways to manage stress
1) Be optimistic
I know, it’s the last thing you need to hear when you are overwhelmed. But approaching problems with an optimistic possibility mind-set, gives us hope reducing anxiety. A pessimistic mind-set leaves us tense, expecting the worst, and a self-fulfilling prophecy leads to more stress. Whatever we focus on grows bigger.
2) Count Your Blessings
An attitude of gratitude will determine your altitude. Instead of thinking and complaining about what you don’t have, think about what you have and be grateful. You can keep a gratitude journal, or like me you can get a gratitude jar. I write down things am thankful for on pieces of paper and put them in the jar. To opened and reviewed on New Year’s Eve 2015.
Maybe like me – when stressed you pull back from people to think things over. But extended isolation periods when overstressed isn’t healthy. God created us as social beings and as the saying goes “A sorrow shared is half a sorrow.” Don’t bottle up your pressure to the point where it gets dangerous and explodes! Look for people you can trust and talk to. Your partner, friends, family, pastors, doctors and other professionals. Even sharing on social media can help, just be wise on that one. Getting things off your chest and seeing another person’s perspective can relieve stress. Because misery loves company, remember to cut down contact with people who may compound the stress or casually tell you to “get over it.” Bottom line – get support. Especially if you are in the Diaspora where stress is on another level and social support networks are wanting. Let’s be there for each other. Don’t reach a breaking point alone and in silence.
Slapstick comedy, a funny movie, YouTube videos or jokes. Find something that makes you smile or laugh till your sides ache, you cry or pee in your pants. It relieves stress. Studies reveal laughing has a positive effect on us and is healthy. When we laugh the stress hormone cortisol is reduced and neurotransmitters called endorphins are released. These act as natural pain killers. Which only goes to prove the bible right… “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit drains one’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22)
We are so used to driving everywhere, taking elevators, sitting at work then sitting in front of the TV after work. When was the last time you took a good long walk in the park? Put the glass down before it gets too heavy, even a walk around the block helps clear foggy thoughts and tension.
You don’t need to go to church, light a candle or kneel down. Prayer is simply telling God what’s on your mind and heart without formulas, man-made rules and regulations. He already knows our thoughts, but he wants us to invite Him into our situations through prayer. Ask Him to help you with whatever is overwhelming you. He cares about you and He is willing and able to sort out your life’s challenges. If you will trust Him and let Him… Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Increases oxygen flow in the brain, leading to mental clarity which helps us solve problems. Helps you sleep better, alleviating worry related insomnia. A work out not only helps your waistline, it also reduces harmful levels of adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones and improves your mood – equipping you to handle the stress.
8) Switch off
You phone, Facebook, the computer, radio, news on TV. There is so much noise that daily competes for our attention. Sit or lie in silence, or enjoy instrumental soothing music while you focus on your breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply and exhale just as slowly. Repeated 5 or 6 times this relaxes your muscles, helps bring more oxygen to your brain and clarifies your thoughts.
9) Write or Read
Writing can have the same effects on our brains as meditation. Thinking on paper relieves stress. As words flow from our brain we clear our mind clutter, our breathing slows down, and we can process our feelings and sort through conflicting thoughts. Writing things down helps with problem solving as we analyse the problem and identify possible solutions. Reading a good book also helps manage stress. Something fun, spiritual, the bible or anything positive and encouraging. Inspiring stories of people who overcame tough situations in life can also uplift and give you hope that things can and will get better for you too.
10) Eat Bananas
Stress can cause high blood pressure and robs the body of potassium, a mineral that regulates blood pressure. Low potassium can lead to fatigue, irregular heartbeat and increase the risk of having a stroke. Bananas have high potassium and energy; which we need when we feel drained due to stress overload. A banana a day can regulate your blood pressure, help digestion, prevent stomach ulcers, improve your mood and can even cure hangovers! So eat more bananas…
There you have them. 10 real easy ways to manage stress so you can have a fruitful, productive and balanced 2014. So how will YOU be putting your glass down this year?
Copyright © Nancy Gathecha.
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