Updated: Jul 13, 2020
Although we live in a supposed first world country, when it comes to stress, we lag many countries in the world including those so called third world countries. We feel like stress is a natural byproduct of success. As a result, we inhale stress like air we breathe believing that it is a part of life. However, that is a myth. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And more than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. With that in mind, it is imperative that we create daily practices to eliminate stress from our lives.
Have you felt stressed lately? Join the party! Stress is a torn in our flesh that try as we might, we cannot seem to heal from this affliction. Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure). We must change our behavior if we expect to ward off stress. Yet many of us neglect selfcare and throw ourselves in the endless cycle of life, choosing to medicate on substances to numb our stress. We create habits that do not serve us and in fact are detrimental to our health. As such, we must insulate ourselves from stress by creating practices that are designed to keep us in balance. It is imperative that we create practices that are in congruence with our purpose and designed to keep us in harmony. Since we know stress comes from internal and external factors, we must fortify our inner and external self if we intend to wage war against stress. The best way to handle stress is not to pile up our day with more stuff but to address the causes head on and deal with it. You can design a life that is immune to stress with careful practices. Here is a plan for waging war on stress:
1. Power Habits. Habits are routine behavior that happens regularly almost without thought. Many of us have habits that do not serve us. When we create power habits these become routine practices that happen without thought that serve our purpose. The benefit of practicing these power habits is that you can automatically do things that are beneficial to your overall well-being without even thinking about it! Starting and finishing your day strong matters. It is imperative that you have powerful habits that serve your mission and purpose. Here are a couple of power habits to fire up your day. Start and end your day with gratitude, start your morning with a cup of hot water with fresh lemon juice, take a brisk walk in the early morning, pray, read something inspirational, laugh and laugh and keep laughing and take 5-10-minutes to meditate daily. These are just some power habits that will fire up your day.
2. Power off. We convince ourselves that we don’t have time to rest or take a break because we will miss something. It’s kind of like a child who refuses to go to bed because they want to remain in the action. As adults we know that the child needs to sleep so that the child can awake refreshed with renewed energy. The problem is that as adults we are constantly on a go-go cycle that is counterproductive to human thriving. We procrastinate on sleep because we are too busy to sleep. However, we were designed to power off. We cannot overload ourselves and expect to ward off stress. If we over pack our plates like everyone else, it will lead to disease. Let’s take time each day to disconnect and power off. You will not lose time by disconnecting and powering off rather you will gain more time by taking a few moments to replenish. When you power off you can reemerge more energized and focused to creatively accomplish your goals. When we work while we are tired and stress, the work we produce is not our best. It takes us more time to finish a project when we are sleep deprived. Take the small time now to replenish so you can live a disease-free life.
3. Focus on the good. "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV). When we focus on the good things it energizes us and create momentum for living. By relentless focus on the good we are able to keep things in perspective and not get stuck harping over small things. Because our society is obsessed with finding problems, we are ingrained to look for problems. If you go into most of the offices and eavesdrop on conversations, you will find that most people spend a vast amount of their time talking and thinking about problems. When we highlight the problems, we are training our brain to look for problems and thus we tend to find endless problems wherever we go. This relentless focus on problems seeps our energy and robs us of creativity. We are left feeling exhausted, frustrated and stressed out. The solution is to relentlessly focus on the whatsoever is good in our lives, this is the key to successful living.
4. Sow good seeds. The golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated. Every day is a gift. We get an opportunity to be a blessing to others. We get an opportunity to treat others good and I mean everyone, even the person you may consider “beneath” (of course you would never think that!) you or that annoying co-worker who is always talking your head off. We tend to be respecter of people only being good to those who are good to us, or those we must be good to like our bosses, or those we deem worthy. The golden rule is not about worthiness. It is a tried and true principle that if follow will produce great results in our lives. We cannot mistreat others and expect to have a stress free and prosperous life. If we practice this then we will reap the good seeds we sow and vice-versa.
5. The Power of imagination. Everything that we see around us is the product of imagination. However, when we cross over into adulthood, we lose our ability to use our imagination. We were never meant to stop imagining. In order to achieve a thing, it is important that you see it in your mind’s eyes before it can manifest in your world. History is replete with examples of men who were mocked and ridiculed because they dared to dream beyond what they could see naturally. Walt Disney once had an execute laugh in his face when he showed him a clip of Mickey Mouse cartoon that he wanted to air of television. What happened if he gave up on his dream? Instead of having nightmares about our problems, why not purposeful spend time imaging how wonderful our lives could be? If you want your situation to change, use your time not to languish in stress and worry but use the power of imagination to dream, to see the life you wish to live. Like Walt Disney others may not think your dream possible but they don’t need to. The only person that need to see it is you. If you keep dreaming and believing it will eventually come to pass.
6. Mind Food. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. Your feet will never take you where your mind has never been. If you spend a lot of time ruminating over problems and living in a state of worry, then your mind will store that information. When you are faced with a new situation, your mind will automatically default to the negative. In the same way, if you want to change, you must start thinking on the positive things over and over until it is programmed in your mind. When a new situation arises, your brain will then be programmed to bring positive results. The problem is that most people don’t do the work needed to feed their mind. The result is that they spend a significant amount of their time living in worry and fear which brings stress. Your thoughts have power. Start by feeding your mind. Try reading something inspiration daily. Practice powerful affirmations and avoid people who are negative. Your mind and life literally depend on it.
7. For Giggles sake. Laughter is a medicine to your soul (Proverbs 17:22). The best way to ward off stress is with laughter. I know it may not seem like a logical response but trust me laughter is the best medicine to counteract stress. Plus, you don’t need a prescription, it is free, and you can take as much as you need without any side effects. According to the Mayo clinic, large doses of giggles and guffaws are just what the doctor orders to fight against stress. Short term benefits of laughter include stress relief and tension soother. Long term benefits of laughter is an improve immune system, pain reliever and mood enhancer. So, if you think life is too serious to laugh then you’re probably going to be consumed with stress. Life is too serious not to laugh.