Recently, I was trying to come up with a strategy for dealing with my wound-up life, when I stumbled onto Sandy Fleming’s detailed article, Ten Tips to Lower Your Stress Level. At first, I assumed this would be just another “buy a pet fish and do yoga” type of instructional article. I’ve read several articles recently that implored me to go buy only holistic foods and avoid meat. If someone wants to see me really get stressed out, take the beef and chicken out of my life! But the fact of the matter is, I’ve really been under a lot of stress lately, so I figured Sandy Fleming’s article would help me figure out a few tips on how to take care of the stress in my life. It did.
My wife worries about my stress level. She tells me that I have this vein in my forehead that pops out whenever I’m upset; lately that little vein has been showing up a lot lately. She suggested that I get online and find a few articles or groups to belong to that would help me figure out how to deal with my stress level, which had started to affect our marriage. From Sandy Fleming’s article, I found out that Prevention Magazine actually did a survey on stress and said that a big chunk of individuals in 1996, between two thirds and three quarters of us are stressed regularly.
Sandy Fleming indicates that stress is a physical reaction to danger and the fight or flight reaction. I am forced to wonder if cave men experienced stress as mentioned in her article, since she stated that if we addressed the feeling of danger with either fight or flight, it would provide the necessary response for stress. Stress, as she stated, is a reaction to not being able to fight or run away from a problem. She also points out in her piece ten ways to deal with this issue.
Get a Hobby. I am thinking this suggestion is a very good one, but it depends on the hobby. I like nature. So, I guess that is what is inherent in me to deal with my stress level. I have a buddy who watches wrestling. This, I think, would not be a good hobby for stress release. I’ve been at his house while he watched one of these shows, and he stands up and screams at the television. Perhaps a creative hobby or relaxing hobby would relieve stress, though. I think part of my stress problem is that I don’t take time out for my hobby enough.
Help Someone Else. This suggestion in the article is an interesting one, but it focuses on our willingness to assist others. I can attest that this works, but I never really took the matter to mind. When I help out with family members who need remodeling work done or when I do something nice for someone else, I feel a strong sense of comfort. Recently, I’ve had a lot of untapped frustrations due to my job, so the concept of finding a civic organization to help out is a great idea.
Organize Your World. This concept is one that my wife does a lot. Though Sandy Fleming points out that stress is aggravated by missing items and clutter, unfortunately I am not very good at organization, so this method is sort of lost on me. My space is typically a disarray of sorts, so this concept is not the easiest one for me. As far as misplacing bills, I do have my bills all in a cute basket, so they are where I need them. This actually helps when it’s time for me to pay them. I can’t imagine not knowing where your bills are, but it would definitely cause a lot of stress in life.
Sort Your Worries sounds like the last concept of organization, but actually it has to do with evaluating what’s getting to you and prioritizing conflict. The big problem I have is listed in this tip. The thought of worries being in two categories, those you can do something about and those you can’t, is not something I always accept. I want to change the impossible so it doesn’t frustrate me any more. Letting go is NOT easy, and this is something I really take issue with in the article only because the “letting go” advice seems so flippant. It’s not easy to let go. That needs to be stated.
Try Some Relaxation Techniques. This concept was what I figured the entire article would go over. I was actually pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t all about relaxation tricks. The ones the writer mentioned two relaxation techniques, tensing and palming, that I had never heard about, but I knew a bit about deep breathing and thinking about soothing things. Tea is also a great stress reliever, but it was not mentioned in the article.
Pet the Dog or Cat. This suggestion points out that petting an animal is soothing and lowers blood pressure, which in turn lowers stress level. I am surprised watching fish is not mentioned at this time. (There is no mention of watching fish anywhere in the article.) Of course, there is truth in that petting an animal de-stresses your life if the animal is a gentle one. I have a little dog though, and she is excessively hyper. Petting her is sometimes stressful if she doesn’t calm down for me.
Take a Walk. You’ve got to hand it to my wife. She seems to do most of these things naturally, and maybe that’s why she’s a lot calmer than I am. The advice to take a walk burns out the frustrations and encourages a person to think about things other than the stressful things in your life. My wife walks to work out problems in her head, something the writer points out as productive to taking care of stress.
Put Things Into Perspective. Now, for me this is just restating the tip “Sort Your Worries.” It’s just more evaluation, but this one suggests you write down the troubles in a journal to weigh just how important the stressful things actually are. I think this tip is just to show you how petty some of the stressful events in our life can be. It is a way of looking at the stress later and accepting how silly it was to worry about it in the first place.
Play! Like hobbies, this suggestion points out that we should stay active and get our mind off our stress. Play takes the focus off the stressful situation and allows the brain to rest. For the most part, this suggestion is quite true. Kids are a lot less stressed than adults, and adults who enjoy themselves once in a while have a much more relaxing life.
Hug a Loved One. I like this suggestion. It basically points out that expressions of affection are great stress relievers. I’m not a real huggy type person, but this does work when I hug my wife. I think the reason this article really works is because it gives a reader something to do about the stress in life. So many times, we feel trapped by stress with no outlet except agitation. This article points out that there are things you can do about stress; you don’t have to let it eat at you. It opens a reader up to coming up with even more ideas for dealing with stress, and for that reason, the article is really helpful.
I was personally surprised that the article didn’t mention chocolate, taking a bath, yoga, reading, or talking to people about your stress. Of course, she was trying to stick with only ten methods for taking care of stress in life, and her article did touch on things that aren’t that obvious. I especially appreciated the fact that her article brings awareness about stress into light. Most of us who are under stress accept that stress is a part of our life, but we don’t think about the fact that it might be harmful to our health. It’s good to actually take the time to read about stress and decide what to do about it.