Stress is Good.

Stress is Good.
Stress is Good.

Most of us are not hard-wired to handle stress but we can learn to use it to our advantage. Imagine you're an Olympic skier about to take that first big leap off the mountaintop.  You're a Shakespearean actor about to handle your first Hamlet. You can feel the adrenaline pumping through your body.  You can't stifle it, so use it, work with it. When you do, it’ll keep you focused, give you an edge and enhance your performance. Stress helped you get through finals at college.  It helped you avoid an accident.  Now it can help you cope with simple things like getting tasks done on time.

 When you use stress in a beneficial way you can reset your goals and give your self esteem a booster shot.  If you’re under the illusion  that stress causes heart attacks or strokes, you need to develop a new approach.  It's not realistic to hide or hibernate to protect yourself from reality.  You might pretend to be John Cleese, sticking your fingers in your ears and repeating, “This isn’t happening, not listening, not listening”, but that's not dealing with reality.

 It's all about balance.  Stress is essential and healthful when you release it through physical activity and emotional reaction.  Channeling it can give you a mental and physical edge.  Mundane tasks such as cleaning out your closets, drawers or the garage lets you release it and accomplish a goal.  When you don't handle stress and allow it to fester, it becomes unhealthy and toxic to your wellbeing.  There are people who will not read the morning paper or watch television news.  They try desperately to shield themselves from bad news.  They pretend nothing bad or negative is happening in the world.  They deceive themselves. We are more interconnected than ever and can’t afford to ignore trends, societal changes or technology unless we want to drop out of society.

Here are some guidelines and suggestions which should help to ease the impact of harnessing stress:

 Don't dwell on the past.  Release old mistakes or problems.  Click them off and close the windows.  

Stay current, connected and aware of your role in your family, neighborhood, country and world. Don't get bogged down in routines.  It's fine to take care of your daily rituals but try not to do the same thing every day at the same time. 

Take new routes to work, exercise programs, school or shopping. Look around -- stop and smell the roses even when there are none. Set realistic goals and a realistic amount of time in which to complete them.  It's rewarding to get a single task accomplished. 

Don't make a "bucket list" and add to it constantly.  Go somewhere easily accessible and pick apples or photograph flowers and trees. 

Try new recipes, restaurants or types of food.  Variety is good.  Diversify your tastes and learn to appreciate other cultures. 

Relaxation helps your body and mind. Take a power nap for 30 minutes every afternoon.  Practice Yoga or treat yourself to a spa day. 

Take a self-enrichment course - learn a language, take a dance class, volunteer for a charity or learn a new hobby. 

Exercise but don't overdo it or become compulsive about it.  Walking is ideal -- you don't need to run -- you're liable to miss the scenery. 

Always be on time.  This is important for your self-discipline and to show others that you are considerate of their time.  If a problem arises, handle it quickly and efficiently.

Live in the moment and be present in all you do.  Avoid excess in any form, especially in food and drink.

Stay away from toxic people, places and things.

Remember, as Jonah Goldberg says, that choices have consequences.  That's why they're called choices.

Praise others for a job well done.

Delegate duties.  You don't have to carry the world on your shoulders and take the blame or credit for everything that happens.

You have my money-back guarantee that working these steps will make you happier and healthier.  Try smiling too -- it always seems to help.


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Ilona Saari January 11, 2014 at 08:46 PM
Now if only I could stop the wine and cheese when stressed. ;o)
Irene DeBlasio January 11, 2014 at 08:47 PM
@williamBauer Dear old friend, The biggest takeaway from this post is: if you can handle emotional challenges so that you are in control and feel a sense of accomplishment, that's awesome. You get extra Brownie points for managing your life well, managing your finances well and being good to yourself. A cruise is a great way to reward yourself. I've taken several and love being at sea whether it's transatlantic, Mediterranean, Aegean, Adriatic, Caribbean, trans-Panama Canal, whatever. My worst luck was a New York to Bermuda when it rained the entire time. There's so much to do on a ship and the social life is fun. On the very first transatlantic crossing I was quite young and took I notice in the daily program it mentioned special meetings each day. They were listed as "Friends of Bill W". I wondered if he bought out the ship because this guy had meetings everywhere -- on deck, the library, lounge, you-name-it. Serving on an alcoholism foundation I'm grateful that Bill W. has so many friends. Congratulations, you're navigating skills are excellent. Stay on course and always continue to be the blessing you are.
Irene DeBlasio January 12, 2014 at 10:56 AM
@IlonaSaari Wine and cheese? It's the perfect stress buster. So are hot chocolate or warm milk with cookies or lying on the beach in Hawaii under swaying palms with the faint music of a slack-key guitar and the sound of the surf. Too many people would rather pop a pill or two and that becomes a real problem. They're not treating the source of their anxiety, they're treating the symptoms. This practice backfires sooner or later and they end up in a 30-day wonder program which practically guarantees return visits to rehab for chemical dependency. So, Brava! I bet a delicious onion soup made by Richard would have a calming effect too. Thanks for visiting your old neighborhood. Keep coming back.
Lucien Lacomb January 14, 2014 at 12:28 PM
Do you use the Hawaii beach imagery for self-hypnosis? It seems perfect for a relaxation technique.
Irene DeBlasio January 14, 2014 at 01:20 PM
@LucienLacomb To paraphrase Mark Twain -- giving up smoking is easy. I've done it dozens of times. Yes, in my quest for a smoke-free life I spent 10 years on and off trying to find the solution. I tried walking, running, dancing, cigars, acupuncture, doing aerobics, Yoga, meditation and self-hypnosis. I became adept at using self-hypnosis to the point of falling asleep each time I imagined myself lying on a lounge on the beach in Hawaii (my head shaded by palm trees, my legs in the sun). I kept this technique for power naps. I discovered that the Nicoderm patch worked well for smoking cessation and slapped that patch on everyday until I was ready to toss the cigarettes. Addendum: If I'm ever diagnosed with a terminal illness I will probably go out and buy a carton of coffin nails and smoke 'em.


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