"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." ~John 14:27
Hey there my bloggy friends! Welcome back! I hope you've been doing good, and that life has been treating you well. Grab a cup of coffee/tea, pull up a seat, and stay a while.
Here's an update on how things are progressing with the construction.....the painters were here last week to paint the ceilings, so I was able to finally get my living room back in order Saturday. (Side note: paint dust is not fun to clean up, especially when you have to take down over 200 books to clean your bookshelf.) The roof is done and the tin looks great! I will have to post some pictures when it's all said and done. They still have to put in the new counter-tops in the kitchen and the siding on the back of the house, plus a few other odds and ends around here, but I think we are in the homestretch now.
It's finally starting to look and feel like home again. We only have a few more boxes to unpack, but most of those will have to wait till the kitchen is finally done. I only have one more wall to finish up in the living room, which is the one I redid back in the fall. It will be nice to see those pictures up again. It feels so good, after almost four months of things being in such disarray, to see things back in order. It has been a very slow and stressful process, so I'm getting excited that it's almost over.
Okay, let me get on with the message. Today, I want to talk about the "S" word. You know the one I'm talking about, don't you? S-T-R-E-S-S! Yep, that's the one. Which "S" word did you think I was talking about?
What exactly is stress? How does it affect you? Do you have more stress in your life than you can handle? (I can say a big YES to that one!) What are some healthy things we can do about stress?
"Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. When you sense danger – whether it’s real or imagined – the body's defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the stress response. The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert.
In emergency situations, stress can save your life – giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you'd rather be watching TV. But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life." -(taken from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm)
Here is some information about the negative effects stress can have on your health from webmd.com-
"Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked and stress-related tension builds. Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress -- a negative stress reaction. Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions."
Wow! As you can see, stress can/has become a major problem for many people, including myself.
Many of the physical and emotional problems I've been dealing with for quite some time have come from ongoing, stressful situations, and my lack of knowing how to deal with them in a healthy way. They have taken a tremendous toll on my health. I am not exaggerating when I say they have been relentless and exhausting. There have been so many times when I felt like I just wanted to completely give up because I felt so crushed beneath the weight of the burdens of those stressful situations. I didn't have time to refocus and recover between situations before something else was hitting me. Unfortunately, it has been a very slow process trying to get myself back to a place of health and serenity. I have a long way to go, but at least I'm learning how to manage stress in a more healthy, productive way now.
"Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere." ~Glenn Turner
Let's face it, there will always be stressful situations in this life. We will never be able to completely get away from those things. I think the biggest key to being able to walk through those stressful situations without it taking a toll on our health is in how we handle those situations. I never learned how to handle stressful situations in a healthy way, so the first step for me was to realize that I had to relearn how to deal with stressful situations and people.
“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.” ~Steve Maraboli
So, what can we do to better deal with the stressful things in our lives? How can we deal with those situations/people that seem to cause so much drama? There are basically two things we can do:
1. We can change the situation. (If you can't change the situation then number 2 is for you.....it's the hardest one for me)
2. We can change our reaction.
I have to constantly remind myself of these things each time a stressful situation presents itself because I tend to want to revert back to old ways of thinking and responding. (i.e.- getting upset and stressed out if I can't do something to make things better or to change the situation, or how the person is acting)
As difficult as this is, there may be times when you have to make the decision to shut certain things and people out of your life because you may not be able to handle anymore drama and stress from those situations. There are some people who will suck the life out of you, if you let them. It seems like the more you give, the more they take. I've had to make that difficult decision on quite a few occasions. We should not give of ourselves to the point of being physically and emotionally sick. It's okay to say no to those stressful situations, as well as to the people who seem to suck the peace right out of you. Boundaries are such an important part of managing stressful situations like this. Please remember, you have to do what's best for you and for your health. If you don't take care of you, then you will not be able to take care of anyone else either.
There may also be times when you have to say no to doing certain things. If you find that your schedule is overloaded with activities and you are stressed out to the point of feeling like you're gonna have a melt down, then you might want to step back and re-examine your life and schedule. It's okay to say no to some of those things, especially if it's going to push you beyond what you can deal with in a healthy way. It's just not worth the added pressure. Prioritize. You can say no without feeling guilty. You are not superwoman/superman. It's still hard for me to say no, and I still have to kick that old people-pleasing monster to the curb a lot, but it does get easier the more you do it.
One thing I've noticed when I feel stressed out is that I tend to hold my breath a lot. I also tense up my jaw and certain muscles in my body, which results in more pain issues for me, so I've tried to start taking deep breaths when I feel myself getting stressed about something. Just focusing on breathing for a few minutes can really help in a pinch.
I also believe it's important to take time each day to just sit and relax in a quiet room for a little while. I know that might seem impossible for you mamas that have little ones, but it is so worth it if you can manage just a few minutes. It might just be sitting there in the quiet, taking some deep breaths, or praying, or listening to some music, or writing in your journal.
We also need quality sleep. Many of us, me included, get in bed way too late and don't get the sleep our body needs. Our body and mind needs time to be restored and renewed. If we don't make the time to do these things, they won't happen on their own. It's a choice we have to make for ourselves. You are worth it.
I have also found that eating healthy really helps me feel better, as well as being able to deal with stress in a better way. As many of you know, I have quite a few dietary challenges with having to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle, as well as other food intolerance issues (dairy, corn, eggs rice), but I have found that adopting a healthy diet is so important in how you feel. It gives your body the ability to handle the added pressure we put on it sometimes. The crazier or lives are, the more help we need.
And last, but certainly not least, is laughter. Do not underestimate the power of laughter. I believe it has healing properties. Here is a quote from A Better Brain at Any Age: The Holistic Way to Improve Your Memory, Reduce Stress, and Sharpen Your Wits (Conari Press, 2009), author Sondra Kornblatt explores how laughter can truly make you feel better.
What can laughter do?:
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
- Give a workout to the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles
- Reduce certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline
- Increase the response of tumor- and disease-killing cells such as Gamma-interferon and T-cells
- Defend against respiratory infections–even reducing the frequency of colds–by immunoglobulon in saliva.
- Increase memory and learning; in a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, humor during instruction led to increased test scores
- Improve alertness, creativity, and memory
We have very little control over the things that happen in our lives. If you are stressing about something you can do nothing about then perhaps it's time to change how you allow yourself to respond and be affected by those things/people. We may not be able to change all the stressful situations in our lives, but there are changes we can make to help us handle those stressful situations better. What changes can you make to alleviate the "S" word in your life? Until next time my friends, be blessed.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30
“The most important reason for your “no” is that you need your downtime so you won’t behave like a jerk because you’re depleted. And you don’t want to battle an appetite spiked by the stress of overcommitment. But that’s your secret; others don’t need that information. So just smile, say no, thank you, and keep moving.” ~Holly Mosier
Here's a great article about things you can do to help relieve stress and stay cool, calm, and collected.
*First picture of lady stressed out is taken from http://www.fitsugar.com/Why-Stress-Causes-Weight-Gain-2995167
*Second picture of lady stressed out is taken another great article on stress and how to reduce it: http://strongwomenblog.com/stress-less-relax-more/
*Keep calm and breath picture is taken from: http://www.amazon.ca/Keep-Calm-Breathe-Breathing-Techniques-ebook/dp/B009MAJRU8