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.