There is nothing more detrimental to your health and well being than chronic stress. It’s been linked directly to “depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, immune system disturbances that increase susceptibility to infections, a host of viral linked disorders ranging from the common cold and herpes to AIDS and certain cancers, as well as autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
In addition, stress can have direct effects on the skin (rashes, hives, atopic dermatitis, the gastrointestinal system (GERD, peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis) and can contribute to insomnia and degenerative neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. In fact, it’s hard to think of any disease in which stress cannot play an aggravating role, or any part of the body that is not affected (see stress effects on the body stress diagram). This list will undoubtedly grow as the extensive ramifications of stress are increasingly being appreciated.” And there’s more.
The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar — even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload.
How to tell when you’re stressing in a damaging way:
You’ll feel physical pain in your body. Pay attention. You’ll feel it in your neck or back or gut.
Don’t ignore it. Instead name it. What’s the emotion? It’s either anger or worry or fear. Anger or worry have their basis in fear and can be treated like fear.
What to do:
First, take an immediate “time out” and Take a Deep Breath.
Next, ask yourself:
• What am I afraid of?
• Is this fear realistic?
• What is the worst that can happen?
• What can I do to protect myself from that outcome?
• Is the worst-case scenario really so disastrous?
• Where in my body do I feel fear?
• How do I feel when I take a few deep breaths?
Authentic and realistic answers to these questions are bound to dissipate the fear. You’ll see that the fear (for the most part) is unfounded.
Next, spend some time thinking about the outcome you want. The more you think about your desired outcome, the more likely it is to happen. In fact, writing down your desired outcomes is even more powerful. Here are some tips to help you do that.
Embracing this habit of stress management could be huge for your health and longevity …and after all, isn’t that what we all want the most?
What are your views? I’d love to hear.