Let's face it. There is no way around stress. It is part of living. When we live in a constantly amped up state, negative emotions occur again and again and become chronic and the effects on our body also become chronic. Mismanaged stress disrupts hormones in our body, and disrupted hormones affect blood sugar, mood, energy, sleep, weight, menstrual cycles, and skin health. In other words, mismanaged stress "disrupts the dynamic ability of our body to self-regulate and therefore heal."
We can try to minimize stressful conditions by: living close to work to avoid traffic-related stresses, getting a good job with a good boss and ideal working conditions, and finding enough time to spend with family and friends. If we do not have those luxuries and even if we do, there is no telling what the future will bring in terms of cataclysmic turn of events. There is no better solution, therefore, than to work on building emotional strength to deal with stress. How effectively we manage stress, determines our health, our success, and ultimately our happiness. Here are some pointers:
- The ideal way to begin managing your emotions is to acknowledge them. Keeping your emotions bottled inside can result in illness resulting from a weakened immune system. Recognizing and acknowledging feelings of intense emotions such as anger can help in coping with those feelings.
- In trying to reduce your feelings of anger, it doesn't help to fight anger, get angry about being angry, or regard it as wrong to be angry. Instead, recognize your anger, acknowledge with kindness that you are feeling it, and turn away from it. As the eminent Dr. David R. Hawkins has noted, to resolve problems, you need to support the solution, not attack the apparent causes. So instead of feeding the anger by giving it attention and dwelling on perceived injustices, acknowledge your own irritation to help you cope with them. And if the process involves expressing your anger at the right time, in the right place, and in an effective way (so that you can come to peace), then do it.
- Physical exertion can take the edge off the intensity of feelings associated with an event or a person whom you have lost or who has wronged you, or perhaps, abandoned you: Exercises, working on your grounds, punching a punching bag if you are so inclined....You get the drift. This is not meant to make the emotions disappear or to solve the problem. It is simply to reduce the impact these emotions have on your body and your thoughts. In a calmer state of mind, you will see things more clearly and reasonably to make the right decisions. Even if the emotions remain afterward, you have at least cleared some of the biological effects of the "fight or flight" response from your system, and thereby improved your health in this respect.
- Devising tricks to resist or rebel against emotions or to get around them won't work; you will in fact be kindling the fire, if you do not accept that this is how you feel right then, whether you like the feeling or not. Sometime a clue arises, or choices on how to respond to the situation. But even otherwise, dealing with the feelings one layer at a time brings us one step closer to managing those emotions. For example, the layers may unfold as follows: "I feel low, I feel irritated, I feel sad, I feel disappointed that my day is ruined, I wish I didn't feel this way, I feel really frustrated that I can't snap out of it." The act of noticing, naming and accepting each layer of emotion is the first step toward coping with them.
- Reach out to a loved one if you would rather not be alone. Talking to someone you trust can be a good way to achieve emotional balance.
- Executing a simple stretch will release tension from your limbs and help to ease your emotional turmoil. Simple yoga exercises such as stretching arms over the head, reaching as far as possible and folding the body over to grasp the ankles may be repeated six to eight times to release tension.
- Put in writing exactly what you are feeling and what you think may be the root causes of your emotions. Brainstorm ideas for addressing the issues in the future.
- Engage in an activity or artistic outlet such as dancing or singing or working out to deal with the emotions. Do it in such a way that it does not hurt you or others.
- Meditation is another effective method that can bring your system to rest and calm. Meditation is not trying to relax or trying to be calm, or trying to be anything. You are simply stopping for a chosen period of time and "being" in whatever state of mind you happen to be in. Don't make the mistake of thinking that somehow you are not doing it right or not getting the proper effect. There is no proper effect. With sufficient practice, you will notice the calming effect on your life and general state of mind. Proponents of meditation say that with some years of meditation, events do not have the same power to disturb the emotions as they once did.
- "Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time." -- J.Y. Lubbock
"Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.?"
-- Etty Hillesum
- Decide for yourself what works for you and what doesn't, which tools are the easiest and the most effective to get you to release tension, and what you want as a result of stress management. Ultimately, you are the best judge of your needs.
When you become more effective in dealing with your emotions, you become more alert to the choices you are free to make. Your head rather than your heart will have more headway in ruling your actions.