My entire adult life, I’ve been under what some may call “chronic stress.” Every time I have found a way to eliminate a stressor, a new one has come around. I won’t lie, it’s really hard to be me sometimes (really, we all can say that). But, I put on my happy face and I push through. Over the past couple of years, though, I’ve learned that life shouldn’t be that way. No one should have to grin and bear it forever. A stressful life is not a healthy one, it is so important to learn to lower stress.
Acknowledging My Stress Was Too High
Interestingly, while researching for this article, I came across many quotes to the tone of “just let it go,” or “whatever is stressing you out now will be funny in a year.”
Well, it was about a year ago that I had to acknowledge that my stress had reached such a high level, it was impossible to just “let it go.” I’d already been in counseling for two years at that point, and as new stressors came into my life, I rapidly lost my ability to control my reactions to them.
Doctor’s Orders: Learn to Lower Stress
After one particularly teary session with my counselor, she recommended I go see my doctor for a blood draw. She had suspicions that my hormones may be imbalanced.
She was right.
And, wouldn’t you know it?! My doctor determined that my estrogen dominance was due to high levels of stress. She gave me some natural supplements to help decrease the level of estrogen in my body, but also recommended immediately doing anything and everything in my power to lower my stress.
Saying No Isn’t That Easy
I took my doctor’s advice, and began to slow down, learn to lower stress and work on saying “no” to more people, more often. Turning down extra errands and even fun events is a great way to reduce stress. With less on your plate, there is more time to focus on your own health.
Problem is, I’m a people-pleaser. I always love to help anyone I can, and saying no just isn’t that easy for me. This is something I continue to struggle with today, but I’m actively working on it.
Tips and advice are welcome!!
Taking Time to Unplug
Another great stress-buster is just getting away from it all. My husband and I enjoy a few weekends a year in some really remote places with people we love and adore.
It’s amazing how much easier it is to relax with no cell coverage or wi-fi.
You’re forced to do things like read, hike, and (gasp!) talk and visit with the people you’re with. Good for the soul.
Have Something to Look Forward To
I read once that the health benefits of the anticipation of a trip or fun event are far and above the benefits of the event itself.
Since reading that, I’ve made a point of scheduling the days and vacations that I look forward to most as far in advance as possible.
One of the best days I’ve begun treating myself to is an annual spa day in December. In mid-September I booked this year’s 5-hour, total-relax experience and I’m giddy with excitement looking forward to it.
Learn to Lower Stress: Maintain Order Wherever Possible
This may not apply to everyone, but it’s a game-changer for me.
When my stress was at it’s highest, I was basically home long enough to sleep each day (and, honestly, I could have used more time to sleep, too).
I just felt totally out of control. My house was a mess, my husband and I hadn’t enjoyed a home-cooked meal in months, getting laundry washed and dried was a nightmare.
Relaxing wasn’t possible, because even though I was exhausted at the end of each day; the second I sat down, I looked around my house and felt guilty for taking the time to sit when so much needed to be done.
So, I made the decision to learn to lower stress and to take control back over my life. I said “no,” and made a point to be home more on weeknights.
Simply allowing myself the time to cook for my family and clean my house did wonders for my ability to relax.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
When life is crazy and too much is going on to handle, some things just have to be let go.
There’s no point in crying over the climbing price of gas when a member of your family is lying in a hospital bed an hour away from you.
Get the Help You Need
I’m nowhere near perfect, and I’m still getting it all figured out. But the good news is, I’ve acknowledged that my stress levels are too high and that I don’t handle stress well at all. I’m doing what I can to gain control over my stress instead of continuing to let it run my life.
If you feel like stress is the only way of life you’ll ever know, don’t bear that alone. Find a trusted friend or counselor to talk to who can give you some constructive advice.
It makes all the difference in the world.
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