We all deal with stress on a daily basis, whether we’re old or young, large or small, lofty thinkers, or practical doers.
Even the most practiced and prayerful parent who radiates peace and patience will experience this inevitable aspect of the human experience.
Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it. (Jane Wagner)
It’s inescapable, and it brings with it a host of uncomfortable and distracting symptoms. Stress isn’t just a feeling or a mental state; if you don’t address it, it seeps into every aspect of your life.
Symptoms of Stress
According to medical professionals, stress can produce the following symptoms: Low energy; Headaches; digestive issues, aches, pains, and tense muscles; racing heartbeat…
Beyond these physical symptoms, stress can also have a significant impact on your emotions and general mood. Stress.org (yes, stress has its own website) describes a few of the mental or emotional symptoms of mounting stress: Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts; Trouble learning new information: Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion; Difficulty in making decisions; overeating, loss of interest in many areas of life, just a general feeling of being overwhelmed.
Looking at these symptoms, it’s clear that stress can reach its hungry tentacles into every nook and cranny of your daily life.
All of this information seems rather negative, but don’t get too down yet.
“Stressed spelled backward is desserts.” (Loretta LaRoche)
This quote, while humorous and simplistic, is actually onto something. Stress is inevitable in life, this we know. But we should remind ourselves that succumbing to the negative symptoms of stress is not inevitable.
When we find ways to cope with stress, versus cultivating it and watering it with our actions, we can see it as a part of life that we can consume or not, just like dessert at the end of a meal.
So, how do we turn our “stressed” into “desserts?” What can we do to transform times of struggle into opportunities for positive change? Here are four ways you can begin to cope with your stress, and each is entirely under your control.
1) Reach great heights by letting yourself fail sometimes.
I’ve learned to accept my devastating failures. I have to. Otherwise, I’d be destroyed and discouraged from pursuing anything ever again.
Some people cannot accept their mistakes. Everything has to be perfect from the start. They think others will look down on
them if they appear to be flawed.
These people are frequently stressed.
The happiest and most successful people focus on improvement. They love mistakes and flaws because they see them as opportunities to grow. Learn from these people.
Have lofty goals, but have realistic standards. Don’t judge yourself based on the results of your action. See those results as feedback, and seek improvement from there.
2) Be shameless about not doing things.
You don’t have the time and energy to do everything you want to do.
Inevitably, things are left undone, and you beat yourself up. This habit creates stress.
Consider what’s truly important to you. Kill the rest shamelessly.
This way, you gain more time and control over your life while making more progress.
I focus only on my career and my relationships. I’ve postponed other ambitions, like becoming a Yoga Instructor and a calligrapher, because they’re comparatively unimportant.
3) Learn from the Chinese: the spectator’s eyes.
Stressed people are masters at exaggeration. They magnify every little problem.
You can’t see the big picture when you are caught up inside a problem. Then you begin to exaggerate and freak out.
A Chinese saying goes, “The spectator’s eyes are always clear.”
Ask a friend for their honest opinion on your problems. This insight will likely help you recognize when something truly isn’t a big deal. Learn from spectators, and analyze your problems objectively. Then you can see problems as they are, and act wisely.
4) Learn how to use your body wisely.
I always keep my back straight and try to appear confident.
Why? Because posture has a direct relationship with your mood and behavior.
When you position your body naturally and comfortably, you feel less stressed. Hunching over constricts your digestive track and cuts off your airway.
Also, when you appear confident, you feel more powerful and in control. Confidence balances out stress.
Look up some facts online on how to correct posture and body language. These skills not only reduce stress reliably, but they also keep your body healthy.
You Can Transform Stressed into Desserts
Decide to always leave room for it, but determine what is making it so detrimental to you.
Pick one lesson that looks appealing to you and give it a try.
Only one. Don’t be an overachiever. That’s part of the reason you are so stressed.
You’ve let stress dominate you long enough, haven’t you? Now, during this crazy time, is the time to live differently.
You don’t have to lose touch with reality to start living a more stress-free life.
And everyone around you will benefit from your efforts. And that is like having dessert before dinner.
(For more information about measuring your stress rate, see this link for a self-measurement tool. Seek assistance from your Medical Provider if you have any concerns about your symptoms.https://cvm.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/StressSymptomChecklist.pdf)
Joy is originally from the Central Valley of California, where she was raised on a farm and discovered her love for growing things. As the mother of a blended family of 7 adults and the grandmother of 9, she's learned many lessons about supporting the growth of people.