There is no doubt that stress kills ... and it is the chronic, day-in and day-out stress that is the problem. It can exacerbate pain and symptoms of depression, obesity, digestive disorders, autoimmune diseases and heart disease. There is evidence that uncontrolled stress takes a major detrimental toll on the physical, mental and emotional aspects of your health.
Stress is the result of receiving some sort of threat to your well-being—your body reacts by secreting cortisol and adrenaline, which increases your heartbeat, blood pressure, strength, stamina and general alertness. That threat can come from many sources, but it is often job-, relationship-, health- and finance-related. Your muscles become tight, your senses are heightened, and you are ready for flight or fight. Stress is likely to make an appearance in most individuals’ lives, but the important thing is knowing how to deal with it effectively. Following are 10 steps to help.
- Accept the fact that few escape stress. Don’t think you are immune to its negative consequences. Know thy enemy, and educate yourself and your team more fully about how stress can manifest itself.
- Know for certain that you can beat stress. This is key—it is this inner knowing that will make you successful in your head-to-head battle with stressful situations. Keep in mind that many before you have surpassed stressful scenarios and made it to the other side—there is much value in the knowledge that others have been in your shoes.
- Get comfortable with your own physical, emotional and mental self-maintenance regimens. Know that a good diet and a strong exercise program, combined with a good self-image and some inaugural low-key spiritual practices can prepare you to deal successfully with stress. Just the knowledge that your mind, body and soul are in sturdy shape is a huge deterrent to stress getting a foothold over you.
- Adopt the attitude that as one door closes, another one always opens. Know that all things happen for a reason, and that there is something better just around the corner. When you start believing these ideas, you will begin to see many examples appear in your life.
- Bring humor into your life. Documentation abounds on the positive impact of humor. Watch funny movies, explore humor on the Internet and learn to laugh things off. When you laugh, your body secretes endorphins—positive mood-enhancers.
- Develop relationships with positive friends. Stop spending time with individuals that are continually negative. These kinds of people can have an immensely negative impact on your life and should be avoided.
- Bring more sunshine into your life ... literally. Vitamin D-3 is good for positive physical, mental and emotional enhancement. Get out of the house enjoy the warmth for short periods—just don’t forget the SPF 30!
- Adopt the thought that “this too shall pass.” Think back to instances in which you felt overcome with stress and negative emotions, and remember how you pushed through. This may only turn out to be a molehill ... not a mountain.
- Eliminate the need to be correct. The feeling of needing to be right can be so important for some that relationships and careers can be destroyed in the process.
- Imagine yourself living a life without stress. Deeply internalize what that life might look like. Feel the emotions that accompany a stress-free life—begin to visualize and then put those emotions into action.
Take some time each day for contemplative thoughts and exercises. Someday, health experts may look back on how people are living their lives in 2014 and realize how deadly stress was for today’s society.
John Koeberer is the president of The California Parks Company and The Redwood Parks Lodge Company. Koeberer has taken an active leadership interest in professional and community organizations for 30 years.