Create a Stressless Lifestyle
Estimated Lesson Time: 5 minutes
Some estimates say that about 80% of diseases are stress related. This means that if we learn to manage our stress and avoid unnecessary stress we can greatly improve our chances of avoiding disease and illness. Another result of stress that is often overlooked is its effect on the mind’s performance. Anytime the mind is forced to focus on negative forces (stress), it is difficult to stay positive and pursue your goals. Since stress in life is inevitable, the key is to create a stressless lifestyle.
Stress is defined as “a mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health; usually characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability, and depression.” It is clear that stress, by definition, is negative and destructive. However, it is not the adverse external influences that cause the stress; it is our response that causes the mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition. As we already know, we cannot always control external influences, but we do have control over our responses.
To me, managing stress is a wasteful activity that I would much rather not have to spend time and energy dealing with. In medical terms, managing stress is like treating the symptoms and not treating the disease. To create a stressless lifestyle, we must focus on avoiding stress altogether, and then managing the stress we do have.
Avoiding Stress. If you only remember one thing from this lesson, remember that stress is our response to adverse external influences. In most simplistic terms, we can train our minds to respond positively to these adverse external influences that would otherwise cause stress. This concept is amazing because it works. The ability to respond positively to such influences is one that comes in time, and one that you could no doubt possess by the end of this course. It is all part of your positive mental attitude.
Here are some ways you can condition your body and mind to deal with adverse external influences positively.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Your body will let you know how much is enough.
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Good nutrition can improve your ability to handle stress by keeping your immune system strong.
- Exercise. Cardiovascular (aerobic) activity is the best-known stress prevention activity there is. As little as 20 minutes a day, three days a week can work wonders in more than one way.
In addition to the above, you can also avoid stress by avoiding adverse external influences that trigger the responses that then cause stress. Here are some ways to do just that.
- Don’t procrastinate. If you are like most people who get stressed by doing things “last minute,” then don’t.
- Be organized. A neat desk and a manageable schedule can help you sail through the workday.
- Delegate responsibilities–don’t try to do too much, and learn to say no.
- Be willing to resolve disputes; don’t hold on to anger and never hold grudges.
- Like what you do. The more you spend your day doing things you do not enjoy, the more stress you will have. If you are not willing to change how you spend your day, then at least change your attitude.
Managing stress. So you have done your best to avoid stress yet some stress is still present in your life. Here are some ways to effectively manage these stresses.
- Identify the “stress factors” in your life. Consider each stress factor a problem that needs resolution. Solve the problem or manage it.
- Manage “bad” stress with “good” stress. Exercise is the most common example of putting your body and/or mind under deliberate strain to manage stress. You also may want to try playing sports, riding roller-coasters, watching action movies, or anything else that gets your heart pumping and adrenaline flowing.
- Avoid using caffeine, cigarettes, or alcohol as a way of dealing with stress. Taking artificial stimulants and depressants to manage stress is like pouring gasoline on a fire.
- Relax. Take deep breaths and clear your head.
- Laugh. There is an old saying that laughter is the best medicine. While better medicines do exist for most treatable conditions, I would agree that laughter is a darn good “complementary medicine.” When you laugh, your internal organs are being massaged. Laughter has a very positive healing effect on your body, mind, and spirit.
Don’t “fight” or “battle” stress, manage it. When we work with our bodies, we get things done much more effectively than when we work against them. Respond to adverse external influences in your life positively and with humor when possible. Master this, and managing stress won’t even be necessary.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)