Have you ever felt you were at the point of unraveling? While change and stress are natural parts of our existence there comes a time in most people’s lives where that has been compounded by unexpected life events. In this month’s blog I want to share with you some of the lessons and wisdom I have gained over the years in recognizing, managing, and deactivating the stressors that cross my path.
For years I have leaned on the definition of stress as follows:
- Stress is your body’s response to change. It has both physical and emotional effects, and is a very individual experience. A situation that one person finds stressful may not bother someone else. For example, one person may become tense when driving while another person may find driving a source of relaxation. Something that causes fear on some people, such as heights, may be exciting for others. Not all stress is bad, either. Life would be rather dull without a little bit of anticipation and uncertainty. But too much all at once or over time can lead to health problems for some. You can’t control all the outside events that impact your life, but you can change how you handle them emotionally and psychologically.
It’s that last sentence that I have come to understand more fully in recent years. There are also ways that you can change the effects of past, present, and future of stress on your whole person – mind, body, and soul.
First, let me remind you of some of the time-tested strategies for managing our everyday stress.
- Change your attitude. Have a source of daily positive affirmation.
- Motivate others to motivate yourself. Catch others doing good and recognize them.
- Take a break. Just 5 minutes of walking can eliminate tension buildup.
- Share the load. Trying to do veryfying yourself is one of the main causes of stress. And be patient with those whom you share the load. Remember, everyone doesn’t work at your pace.
- Relax. Breathe. Inhale to the count of four, hold for the count of four, exhale to the count of four, hold for the count of four. Continue for 5 minutes.
- Apply the “lifeboat” theory. This means learning how to prioritize your activities. Who and what do you save first? Also, who will be there to save you – who/what are your support systems?
- Play. Schedule fun into your calendar. See a friend, movie, or just “go fly a kite.”
- Be kind to your body. Eat healthy and exercise, and get enough rest. (hmm…might have to do a whole blog on sleep!)
- Balance your time. Create or leave “white space” on your calendar.
- Wrap up your day. Reflect on where and how you were able to respond in a better way to life’s constant changes. Set an intention for the next day. And finally, find grace in gratitude. Write down at least 1 thing to be grateful for.
So what’s new, you ask? Well, since I turned 65 and retired this year, I have had more time to reflect on how stress has impacted my health and well-being over the span of my life, primarily my adult life. There are three significant events that put stress at the forefront and forced me to make decisions and choices to continue to seek better health.
The first was a toxic work environment that had me on a constant diet of PeptoBismal and Excedrin. (I didn’t know then the evidence-based science on the connection of brain and gut health.
Once I was able to extract myself from that situation I continued to look for ways to better health through various supplements and exercise but what I didn’t realize was that my body had already internalized all that oxidative stress and was exhibiting it through hypothyroidism.
The next major stress event was when my youngest son went through his cancer journey that ended in his transition to spirit in 2005. The journey as a mother and caregiver is one that is still tender but has given me great purpose. Again, another topic for it’s own blog. And yet again, still did not realize the impact of the added oxidative stress that was still affecting my overall health.
The third experience I want to share was both stressful and awakening. It was my 60th birthday and I was able to take the time to attend a retreat and able to intentionally look back at how I had arrived at the 60 year mark. It was then that I began to understand that my purpose from that point on was to begin to create a place where I could share my journey, discoveries, and resources to help others who were also searching for better health and wellness. Thus Alaka’i Associates was born.
Now, at 65, I am at the place where new awareness and understanding of how we can manage and even prevent stress from taking over our lives gives me an excitement and enthusiasm to share it with as many people who are ready to hear.
Until next time…