Benefits of Unstressed Thinkig

This blog was first published in April during Stress Awareness Month.  I thought it would be a good reminder during the busy Holiday Season to not allow ourselves to be stressed out over anything.

Let stress go! •© GLOW IMAGES omodels are used for illustrative purposes

Let stress go!
• © GLOW IMAGES
o models are used for illustrative purposes

It’s not like any of us really needs someone to make us aware of stress. It inconveniently appears in our lives, making us abundantly aware of its effects on our daily activities, on our accomplishments, and on our health.  No one, it seems, is immune to it.

Science shows that how we react to stress matters.  A bevy of research has come out in the past year alone, illustrating how our dealings with stress … can affect our health” not only our mental health but our physical health as well. (1 – Huff Post)  Many chronic and acute diseases have found their roots in stress.  “Persistent stress can lead to health problems, such as headaches and insomnia. Acute stress can cause mental health problems such as PTSD and physical difficulties such as heart attack.”  (2 – Mayo Clinic)

What we do need to be aware of are the triggers that bring it about, how to recognize it, and the de-stressors that help us overcome it. It’s important that we do not ignore it or push it aside hoping it will just go away; and it isn’t healthy to just pretend we can live with it.

Stress can often be traced back to fear, uncertainty, beliefs, attitudes, opinions or expectations. And a number of things might trigger it: “Money, relationships, work, time constraints” or care-giving, holiday pressure, too much to do, and clutter.  In addition, it isn’t uncommon for people to “hide behind our own excuses and denials, while we blame others for our problems and overlook the true causes,” (3-whole living) says an article called Common Stress Triggers on wholeliving.com

The trigger I can identify with most is trying to be perfect. As a teenager and well into adulthood, I was always stressed out over not being perfect. I lost sleep over it, criticized myself, and often got sick from it. For a long time I did not know how to react or respond to the stress I created for myself.  No matter how hard I tried to be perfect – well, it never happened. I hadn’t learned yet what Amanda L. Chan, author of a Huffington Post article, Stress Research: 10 New Things We Learned this Year – is helping people learn.

Amanda wrote that stress is bad for the body, it affects everyone in different ways.  But there are antidotes we can begin to establish in our daily activities.  She found that smiling, mindfulness/meditation/prayer is a key to conquering stress.  One I loved was taking your dog to work. This last one is a fool proof de-stressor, according to the article.

Since I work out of my home, my dog is always near me, but I do know those who do take their dogs to work and they wouldn’t have it any other way.  Their co-workers find the dog comforting during a busy day.

However, I found prayer my biggest stress relief, and eventually it wiped it out totally. Through prayer I began to realize that perfection is a divine quality, not a human one. I saw I could always strive to do my best but to berate myself and loose sleep over not measuring up to my “perfectionist” expectations was simply not good for me.  In our human experience there is always room for learning and we learn from the mistake and go on.  Reading the Bible and prayer were my harbingers out of stressful situations.

In fact, “research shows that those who have made the journey [discovering God] find greater relief from stress and enjoy better health and happier lives.” Whatever religion or faith one might have, “there are specific ways that you can use your faith to reduce stress.” (4-about.com)

Other stress relievers that help influence our physical and mental health mentioned in the article included: expressing gratitude; optimism; looking for a lesson in the challenge; and, using the “principle that has been studied for centuries – what you focus on is what you attract.”  Put very simply, what you think is what you experience.  If you think stressful thoughts, you will experience stress.  If you pray and remain calm, you’ll experience calmness and usually find a way out of the stressful moment.

Spirituality is personal, and everyone’s spiritual path may be unique.  However, some strategies have been helpful to many, regardless of faith.” (5-About.com)

The good news is that we have the ability to control our thoughts.” (2-Mayo) And that’s where stress begins. So, we can deal with it at the source.

Kate is interested in blogging about health, spirituality, Christian Science, science, the importance of prayer and religion in maintaining a well balanced mind and body.  She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.