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  • Why Stress Reduction Isn’t Just for New Agers and Hippies

    Hippie man leaning against haystack playing guitarWho pushes stress reduction and stress management the most? The calm people who aren’t completely overburdened every waking second of their day, that’s who! The people who have time to take the baths and long walks they recommend. The ones who have time to write in their journal and make gratitude lists. The ones who have the luxury or ability to say no to unwanted requests. In short, it’s the hippie, surfer, and new-agey types who are the ones who are always telling you  that you need to lower your stress level.

    Do you know why they harp on the subject so much? Because at one time, they were just like you: stressed out and feeling like stress reduction and stress management weren’t practical for their busy lifestyle.

    What’s Your Wake up Call Gonna Be?

    But here’s the thing… Most of the stress-a-holics cum stress-reduction-fanatics had one sort of wake up call or another. A serious wake up call. The kind of wake up call that makes you change your ways.

    Some common wake up calls are:

    • Getting fired for poor performance
    • Getting fired for bad attitude
    • Car wreck due to distracted driving
    • Car wreck due to falling asleep
    • Major, life changing illness
    • Chronic illness
    • Serious sleep disturbance
    • Serious memory impairment
    • Mental breakdown
    • Serious injury
    • Becoming accident prone
    • Inability to concentrate (see also: Getting fired for poor performance, serious injury)
    • Balance impairment (see also: serious injury, becoming accident prone)
    • Debilitating anxiety (see also: Mental breakdown, serious sleep disturbance)

    Believe it or not, stress has a role in most of our aches, pains, and illnesses. So, just because your doctor has a name for your collection of symptoms and a pill that will suppress those symptoms doesn’t mean they’re good for you. It also doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do something to prevent them.

    Let’s face it – Stress makes your aches and pains worse. It makes the symptoms of many illnesses worse. It slows the healing process from both injury and illness. Stress makes it difficult to lose weight. It makes it difficult to concentrate and reduces critical thinking and language skills. Yikes!

    The Path to Less Stress (or Better Stress Management)

    Before I go on, let me say that I’ll never suggest adding MORE stress to your life in your quest to reduce the current stress in your life. That makes no sense. I’m also not going to give you a pat, one-size-fits-all answer, because what worked for me probably won’t work for you and what works for you won’t work for the lady down the street, etc. etc. etc.

    The trick is to make stress reduction, or at least better stress management, a priority in your life. If it’s not a priority, you’ll never put the needed effort into it. And you will need to put effort into it, because positive change doesn’t usually happen without any effort. The good news is there’s a way to make it less difficult.

    The trick is to choose one stressor at time and work on that one. Pick one that you feel you can do something about, and work to either reduce it or get rid of it all together. Once you’ve got a handle on that one, choose another and work on it.

    While you’re working to reduce the active stressors in your life, you should find 1 or 2 stress management techniques that work with your busy lifestyle. You might choose to use essential oils to calm you down or to help you sleep. Or you might choose to learn a couple breathing techniques that will help calm and center you when the stress hits the fan.

    A few helpful tips

    Let me close with a few helpful tips as you embark on your stress management journey:

    • No one can read your mind – If you don’t ask for help they won’t know you need it and won’t offer you any, especially if you’ve tended to eschew help in the past
    • There are many means to the same end, if someone offers to help don’t force them to do it your way. (Sure, don’t let them wash the brand new red shirt with the whites in hot water, or put things in cupboards and closets where they’re not usually kept, but otherwise let them load the dishwasher their way… unless you enjoy being stressed out by trying to do everything
    • Never assume – You simply cannot know someone else’s motivations or reasoning unless you   ask them.
    • Don’t take things personally – What others do has everything to do with them and nothing whatsoever to do with you.
    • Reducing your stress is preferable to simply managing the stress that’s currently overwhelming you
    • What ever doesn’t get done today will still be there waiting for you tomorrow
    • The house will neither implode nor explode if it’s not cleaned from top to bottom daily
    • Sometime good enough really is good enough

    As a former stress-a-holic, I can personally vouch for the power of stress reduction and stress management in helping me get rid of chronic disease, greatly decreasing my hair-trigger anger, increasing contentment, and vastly improving my quality of life.

    I’ve got a whole bunch of stress articles in the archives if you need some help getting started, but please, for your sake, get started.