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Friday, February 18, 2011

Who ya gonna call....STRESS BUSTERS!

Even the best of us can have stressful days. That project at work, schoolwork, obligations, too many places to take the kids and not enough hours in a day, being pressured by your supervisor, stressing out about finals.....there's a lot of stuff that can tax our patience.

Stress is just our body's way of dealing with changes around us or demands on our body or our time. Some stress is good (Eustress), which is associated with good emotions. For example, getting a new're excited, probably trying hard to keep up with the new information, wondering how you can into the lunch crowd with the employees, trying not to get lost in the new building, etc. Performing in front of an audience for the first time can also be "stressful", but in a good way. Even though we might be nervous at first, it allows us to keep motivated to do a good job in front of the audience and feels great when the job gets done. Eustress is commonly a short term thing when it comes to situations and activities, and the "stress" fades with time and practice in the activity.

However, when the stress is negative (Distress), it can affect our bodies in less than favorable ways. Chronic stress can manifest as anxiety, depression, bursts of anger, decreases our ability to cope, and may lead to physical or mental problems problems (depression, pain, problems with sleep, lack of libido, mental breakdowns, etc). Negative stress may be caused by such things as divorce, death of a loved one, loss of job, money problems, etc. Stress may be exascerbated by oneself by negative talk to oneself, an "all or nothing (perfectionist)" attitude, and decreased self esteem.  If not nipped in the bud, negative stress can turn into a chronic problem and make life difficult. When it gets to the point where making even simple everyday decisions is difficult, then its a sign that the stress has gotten out of hand.

How can we combat the effects of the daily pressures? Just a few suggestions:
  1. Obviously, I'll say... Tai Chi.  :) Tai Chi requires that we become aware of each slow movement. As we focus our attention and energy to the movement and let go of the urge to "get it done already!", we give ourselves the enjoyment of  no deadlines, no perfectionist expectations, no judgment from others, and great exercise.
  2. Meditate: Even 5 minutes of quiet time, where that 5 minutes is all about just "being' instead of "Oh my gosh why am I wasting time when I could be (working, driving, planning, exam cramming, etc)!!" Try not to get into the hype about the "right" method to use to alleviate stress. All methods are beneficial! Try to get some instruction from a qualified teacher on meditation techniques.
  3. Breathe: When we're stressed, we tend to breathe in  a shallow manner. Take about 10 seconds to take deep slow breaths. Come on, that 10 seconds is NOT going to completely ruin your important schedule!
  4. Take breaks: It IS allowed, don't worry. :)  Go outside and walk for a few minutes to clear your head for the next mode of action. Sometimes, just getting out of the immediate area of the area of stress will make a difference.
  5. Take the time to have fun: Do an en activity you some gardening, have a girls-night-out or boys-night-out, go to a comedy club, go dancing, etc. If you're saying "I don't have time to have fun", then you're in a stressful *lifestyle* where you are choosing to keep in the stressful cycle.
  6. Exercise: Any type of exercise. Not only will it benefit your body, it will work off some of that stress.
  7. Know that activities such as these are part of your "YOU" time: It is important to spend some time on YOU, regardless of the deadlines and pressures. I'm not suggesting that you ignore the deadlines, what I'm suggesting is that you block away a little time each day for YOU....not  behind the computer, not worrying about bills or deadlines, not running around like a chicken with your head cut off.  Just 5 to 10 minutes every day (I actually believe in 10 minutes every 3 hours) will make your day so much more bearabel!
There are many more ways to beat stress....I'm interested in hearing your input about what works as a stress-buster. Please post your thoughts here!

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    Rick said...

    I had a very stressful day at work the other day. Not bad, just ... intense.

    A round of the Wu style square, then round forms and all that was left was an echo of a memory of a shadow of what happened during the day.

    Bobbe Edmonds said...

    I don't know how this will fly with your usual crowd, but I have a few not immediately named:

    1: Sex. I won't go further than that, but...always worth the time.

    2: Dancing. This can range from going to a club, or just putting on your favorite music and bouncing around in your garage for an hour or so.

    3: Healthy Expressions of Violence.
    Hit something. Hard. And repeatedly. Use a stick you don't mind throwing away, or a wooden bat (aluminum tends to reverberate a bit too much after a dozen hits or so.) Go into the woods and smash bottles, old toys, soda cans, etc. Hang them from trees and line them up on stumps.

    Side note; DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, USE A LIVE SWORD OR MACHETE OR KNIFE TO BLINDLY HACK AT SOMETHING!!! I used to grab a machete and go into the woods to clear some serious brush, simply relying on my skills to protect me, but there is a drawback to swinging a bladed heft-weapon in anger. Lets just say I needed stitches, and leave it at that. Lesson learned.

    4: Paintball Weekend. As with example #1, this needs no explanation.