Uncontrolled stress is one of the primary causes of illness in our time. The havoc it wreaks on your body and your mind are being proven more and more in studies by those much more qualified than I, though I will continue to share their information in as many ways as possible because I know it to be true.
Now, you will notice that I placed the word UNCONTROLLED in front of the word stress, because controlled stress at times can actually be good for you! It provides adrenaline when needed in athletics, it can keep you moving and keeps your brain churning during those days when much work is to be done. It can bring creativity, energy and more – when controlled in a healthy manner.
It becomes uncontrolled when it affects your mood negatively, when it drains you physically, when it consumes you in a way that brings about conflict, outbursts, illness.
I speak on ways I have found to control stress and energize my life in my lectures. The primary ways are through proper diet, exercise and meditation. Don’t write off meditation as something strange or uncomfortable. You can take the concept in however you find it comforting for you – make it your own. Prayer, deep breathing exercises, visualization exercises, journaling, yoga, spirituality – these are just a few examples of meditative practices. It could even be simply setting aside 5 minutes a day of what I consider “quiet time”. Finding a place of refuge in your home, outdoors, or in a favorite location and sitting quietly, eyes closed, no outside sounds to distract you and just being still for a few minutes to get centered and calm.
We are so inundated with noise and distraction these days. Technology, the demand for instant gratification, working on the go, mobile phones keeping us plugged in 24/7, these all create chaos in your mind that makes it difficult to shut out and turn off and calm down. If you have problems sleeping or going to sleep, I would venture to say you may be overstimulated!
Find a quiet place, every day, and have a quiet moment of meditation. If you add this simple discipline to other healthy disciplines, such as 30 minutes of movement several days a week, cutting back on sodas once or twice a week, eating healthier lunches, etc., imagine what your stress level will look like this time next year?
One of my favorite quotes I have seen recently is this: “A year from now, you will wish you had started today.” So, start now taking one small step toward reducing the negative stressors and see the difference it will make in your daily life.