Most should be clapping right now. I really thought I was the most relaxed man on earth. Little did I know that I was under a lot of stress. It is amazing to me that one can be stressed and not know it. I think because we assume stress means that you are not happy. When in reality, unhappiness comes with later stages of stress, when the symptoms become very apparent and one is already too stressed.
Another reason people do not know when stressed is that stress sometimes is considered weakness. If you are stressed that means you “cannot handle it.” So we are taught to “suck it up” and take it like a man, or a woman.
Stress is a killer, we all know that, but we just do not realize or admit stress. Unless a doctor points it out to us that our symptoms are stress symptoms. Unfortunately the problem is not solved then. Because most doctors will subscribe medicine like anxiety pills, blood pressure pills, cortisone for eczema etc. Of course if you need them, take them, but that does not solve the root cause of the problem.
The root cause of the problem is not stress. Stress itself is normal. We are all stressed, especially in this day and age. The real problem is poor stress management. Recognizing this in itself helped me a lot personally.
Stress management means you have to learn how to deal with stress. Not deny it. Not try to eliminate it.
For example, some people say “I am not stressed,” until it is so clear that they are and they start showing symptoms of stress mentally and physically. Then they get depressed because they consider it a sign of failure that they are stressed. Then they run to a doctor who subscribes depression medicine.
Managing stress requires an objective look at one’s lifestyle. In a demanding world everybody wants something from us, on top of our own high expectations of what we must achieve and do. All of this is stress.
It is a good idea to observe stress symptoms as they arise during the day. For more on this, please read my previous blog. See “who” and “what” and “when” you get stressed. For example, I noticed, that a slow mood before sunset becomes interpreted by my body as sadness. And I get a bit down before sunset. Since I noticed that, I have been enjoying that time a lot. It is amazing the tricks your mind can play on you.
Another good idea is to take a walk. Half hour walk daily alone, or with your best buddy if possible can help a lot reduce stress.
Here is another great mood lifter: A cold shower. Not hot. Not luke warm. But freezing cold. Jsut for 2 minutes. Of course you need to easy into it gradually, maybe start with hot then gradually turn water to cold. It is amazing how “present” you become after a cold shower.
However, the best techniques that helped me with stress management by far where breathing techniques. It took me a long while to find that out but I am glad I did. There are thousands of ways you can alternate your breathing. But I will share with you one simple technique: counting as you breath in, hold, out, then hold. over time, the count becomes higher per breath, which shows relaxation. excellent exercise.
I have been researching this subject for fifteen years now. I have tried so many techniques. Most did not work. But some worked marvelously and I practice them weekly, and some daily. I cannot write about all of them here, but I will be happy to share with you some of these techniques for free if you drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.