As we begin the process of working on how to relieve stress, we should try to identify those trigger points that bring on this draining, potentially dangerous affliction.
Usually chronic stress is brought on from things that happen to us in our lives or it can actually arise from inside ourselves. We'll start with the external side of this challenge. These are things that happen to you. How you deal with them determines the stress level you will face.
In our page about chronic stress, which was the lead in to this series, you read about Stanley and Lisa Walters. I took this story from "The Lamp" which is featured in the left margin in our list of classic books. We'll pick up their difficulties deciding how to relieve stress.
When we left Stanley and Lisa, there were existing more than
living. Stanley was stuck in a job that didn't excite him. Lisa felt
as though her job was not even close to what she would like to do in
life. Their marriage had become more of a mutual house sharing
agreement. Job pressure and boredom led to disagreements or just
They both seemed to have lost the ability to dream of what would really make them happy. Then an opportunity came into to their lives. They were given the chance to have three things they most wanted, but "could not get for themselves". After much discussion and debate, they arrived at their three big choices. Interestingly two of them involved what I would consider personal growth.
Work stress in a major villain. It could be pressure to produce, or it may even be the other side of the coin. Maybe your job is so mind numbingly boring, that you feel as though it takes twenty hours to complete an eight hour workday. It could be a lingering fear of job loss due to current economic conditions.
Major changes in your life, whether they are good or bad can bring on anxiety. An upcoming marriage or a pending divorce. A death in the family or new birth all can bring on concern.
Relationships or in many cases the lack of close friends or one person in which you can confide is a trigger. In his book "Fix It," Dr. Crandall reports on studies showing that people without a strong network of friends or family are often at a greater risk of heart disease. Lonely people tend to have higher levels of cortisol and inflammation. We learned in the page about chronic stress, that excessive cortisol production is a result of higher stress levels.
He points out something interesting. He says that loneliness is a" perceived emotion." Some people have very little social interaction but don't feel lonely at all. Others are around folks constantly and have been married for many years, but feel totally alone. The key is the depth of those relationships. If you can identify this trigger source and develop that one close relationship, much of your stress may go away.
In many people a combination of triggers can cause even the slightest nuisance to send your anxiety level skyward. A baby crying on an airplane or a loud dog. How to relieve stress should be near the top of your to do list if you have reached this point.
I'll add in another stress trigger that affects many people. In fact I dedicated an entire page to the issue of codependency. In our desire to "help" people, we lower ourselves into their personal, internal struggles, to the point where we feel worse about their problems than they do themselves.
Some of the internal triggers might be fears. I've faced these many times. It was a big challenge for me to overcome them. In fact, it is still a work in process in some areas. Public speaking and fear of failure are two very big internal triggers. I can relate to those of you who fear the worst outcome before an event actually happens. But you can beat those. I can tell you from personal experience.
Lack of personal control or uncertainty drives many people over the edge. It kind of relates to the last example as you may expect the worst because you don't know what is ahead.
Personal beliefs may actually set you up for a stressful situation. You may not realize how much pressure long held opinions and expectations put on your performance and growth.
When presented with the opportunity for three wishes-wishes they could not achieve on their own, Stanley and Lisa asked for $1 million, a better relationship and careers that fulfilled them.
I think this book goes a long way in describing in very short chapters just how valuable that one close confidant can be in relieving stress and boosting confidence and productivity. Also how working in tandem can bring about sound judgement. And just maybe it will inspire you to remember why you entered into a particular relationship. And what you've been missing.
So we've presented some triggers. You have some more I'm sure. I think it's wise to write down the big stress buttons in your life. How to relieve stress begins with knowing what causes it. Writing it down allows your subconscious brain to begin the process of controlling the problem. I know you think you can remember them. You probably can. But write them down anyway. Maybe once a week, read the list to reinforce your pattern. It does work. I promise.
You have what it takes. You can control the internal forces. It may take a while as those fears and overly self-critical expectations have been in your life for a long time. But now you know that and are ready to attack it.
Do you have that one trusted confidant? If so, use them. Often. Tell them what causes your stress level. Ask them to keep an eye on you and to nudge you if needed. Don't be surprised if they ask the same of you. Chronic stress isn't an isolated incident. You aren't alone.
Since you know the triggers, plan ahead by redesigning your thought pattern before big events. I know it sounds too easy, but if you see it in your mind as being successful, it usually will be so. Becoming more assertive will boost your positive feeling. You'll begin to stack success upon success.
Better time management solves many problems. Add how to relieve stress to that list. Feeling overwhelmed starts the downward spiral, so you need to eliminate it right away. Remember that the important is seldom urgent and the urgent is seldom important. There are some natural stress relief methods available that work very well for many people.
Here are three things you may not have read in any of the pages at books-empower.com. Again, in my most facetious tone. Better diet, more or at least some exercise and more effective sleep patterns will boost your health. And your internal resolve. There is no getting around it. We can control much of what affects our health with better diet, better activity and better rest.
As Stanley and Lisa contemplated what they would do with these three wishes, they found themselves waking up energized and excited. They actually talked to each other. And listened.
They began to see possibilities for their future-a future that was always available to them. The daily stress they placed on themselves and their relationship clouded the view.
I'll leave the outcome of this tale for you to read in quiet moments as you plan your methods of how to relieve stress. I wonder if Jim Stovall ended "The Lamp" in exactly 100 pages for a reason? Maybe not. Maybe that is just all it took?
There are so many options in implementing relaxation techniques. What is the thing that makes you the most happy? And the most at ease? Is it a sports event? How long has it been since you attended a full game? And left your cell phone in the car?
Have you taken a few days to see our country? Here in Michigan our largest city gets plenty of ink for gross mismanagement of public funds, outright corruption and rampant crony capitalism. But we have our Tigers and our state has some other great places to relax. Have you visited northern Michigan? All the stress will drain out you as you gaze over Lake Superior or watch the water tumble over Tahquamenon Falls?
Maybe you'd like to do some rock climbing in the great southwest? Can you imagine standing right there amid the mountains? Do you think that guy sitting up on top in the picture on the right knows how to relieve stress?
Can you see yourself landing this hard fighting small mouth bass? Can you taste it as you enjoy a self-caught dinner with some close friends? Would you consider that how to relieve stress?
Maybe just take a day to read an inspiring book. "The Lamp" has provided us with some insight. The left margin has several other great choices.
You know what causes stress. Now you know how to relieve stress. First do it for your self and then pass it along. We could be faced with an epidemic of healthy, relaxed people. I'd kind of feel a little sorry for the small mouth bass. Just a little.