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Stress, Stress, Stress

Stress……where can I start??!!! Stress ain’t nothing but the devil. Yes, that can seem cliché. Just like all of you, stress wears me out. Stress doesn’t discriminate against age, race, financial status, or spiritual connectivity. No matter what walk of life, no matter how hard you work, no matter how much you try to do right…baby you cannot elude stress. Stress can kill you. Stress can cause health issues or if you have current health issues, stress can cause it to act up. Trust me I know. I am sure like many of us we don’t start off knowing how to adequately deal with stress. People turn to a variety of things and alternatives to deal with stress. Of course, stress affects people differently. Depending on the kind of person you are, determines how you deal with stress. One thing can happen to me and stress me out to the point where I feel like I’m losing my mind. Then the exact same thing can happen to someone else and it barely affects them at all. I do feel that people who are well off financially have stress to deal with, but I feel they have less stress than someone who is working paycheck to paycheck.

How I deal with stress at 38 is not how I dealt with stress at 30, 25, 21, and definitely not at 17. For me it depended on how bad I felt stress. I wouldn’t eat. I’d be angry and snippy. My temper had a short fuse. In between I’d be very moody. At times, I turned to sex or alcohol to temporarily take my mind from whatever it was that was stressing me. Yea I was born and raised in the church so I’d pray and all that kind of stuff. However, because my faith wasn’t what it is now, I didn’t feel that prayer helped me that much. Faith and prayer are one in the same, and both used to be very faulty with me. No matter what it was, I acted as if it was the end of the world. Small things stressed me out at the same level that major things did. For years, I felt as if before I could get over one thing, something else happened. As stressful things piled up; I would feel more emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually broken and sometimes numb. In many situations, I took it out on other people.

Faith…God…Prayer...That’s how I got better. I wasn’t strong enough to improve on my own. Thus, prayer and God had to intervene. Certain people were put in my life who loved on me and fed encouragement into me. It allowed me to see myself in a different light. As I began to trust myself, I could open myself up and trust God more. This allowed me to have stronger faith in God and that alone gave me a peace and happiness that I’d never experienced before. So, when stressful things occur, rather big or small, I’m already equipped to handle it. I don’t start my day without reading the bible. Now this was something my granny instilled in me since I was a child. The difference now is that my spiritual relationships has grown so much. So now when I read the bible I’m actually understanding and internalizing what I’m reading.

Next I pray. I don’t just pray and say God I need this, God I want that…I have a conversation with him like I would a close friend or close relative. This helps me stay on the right track. This helps me stay focused. I’m not perfect and don’t strive to be. I strive for progression and that’s what I’ve abundantly achieved. I also ensure that the people I spend most of my time with are conducive to the kind of person I want to be. So, no matter how much I like someone or no matter how close I am to them; I’ve learned to distance myself from them or cut them off if they aren’t feeding the best of me. I want people around me who feeds the Ra’Mone that I am today and the Ra’Mone I am evolving into, not the Ra’Mone I use to be. There’s a saying I saw on Facebook one time that said, “Surround yourself with the people who bring out the best in you not the stress in you.” Or this other saying I love that says, “Stay around people who look more like your future than your past.”

Faith, God, prayer, and working out has aided me in maintaining my positive maintenance of stressors. These are the things that helped me. For others, they may need therapy or medication, in conjunction to some of the things that helped me. Some folks may only need exercise. You may have some folks that can solely depend on prayer. The key is recognizing when stress is present and finding out what works best for you to ensure your control and reaction of it is beneficial to your growth and sanity.

The simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management. Stress management is all about taking charge of your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and the way you deal with problems. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life. Effective stress management, on the other hand, helps you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. While it’s easy to identify major stressors such as changing jobs, moving, or a going through a divorce, pinpointing the sources of chronic stress can be more complicated.

Many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem. Some of the bad ways to deal with stress are:

· Smoking

· Using pills or drugs to relax

· Drinking too much

· Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities

· Bingeing on junk or comfort food

· Procrastinating

· Zoning out for hours looking at your phone

· Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems

· Sleeping too much

· Taking out your stress on others

A variety of situations are what brings predictable levels of stress, such as: meetings, family gatherings, work project, court, etc. when the predictable or unpredictable stressors arise, I came across something known as the 4 A’s that can help you better control the levels of stress that may occur.

· Avoid – avoid people who stress you out, learn to say no, take control of your environment, and pare down your to do list

· Alter – create a balanced schedule, express your feelings instead of bottling them up, and be willing to compromise

· Adapt – adjust your attitude, practice gratitude, and reframe problems

· Accept – look for the upside, share your feelings, learn to forgive, and don’t try to control the uncontrollable

A new study out of Ohio State University and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that dealing with persistent, long-term stress (like that from a toxic boss or from caring for an elderly parent) can actually change your genes, leading to an increase in inflammation that can bring on a variety of health issues. Research indicates that the vitamin D boost from sunlight may elevate your levels of feel-good serotonin. And, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells around you redirects your focus from your worries, says Kathleen Hall, a health educator and the founder and CEO of the Stress Institute. Research from the University of California, Los Angeles shows your body produces less of the stress hormone cortisol when engaging in guided imagery. There are plenty of books and articles written on the subject if you need help getting started, but the most important thing is to find a comforting and calming image that works for you. While studying brain activity, National Institutes of Health researchers found subjects who showed more gratitude had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that has a huge influence on our stress levels. Plus, gratefulness also activated the regions associated with dopamine, one of those feel-good neurotransmitters. To reap these stress-reducing benefits, write down your feelings of gratitude daily in a journal, or by sending little notes to friends or family letting them know how much you appreciate them.

Through research and my own alternatives that have benefitted me, I found 5 ways that I feel could really benefit you with maintaining or alleviating levels of stress:

· Lie face down on the floor and begin breathing deeply and slowly, with your hands resting under your face. Do this for five minutes.

· Avoid using caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, junk food, binge eating and other drugs as your primary means for coping with stress. While they can be helpful once in a while, using them as your only or usual method will result in longer-term problems, such as weight problems or alcoholism.

· Make time for music, art or other hobbies that help relax and distract you.

· Learn to just say, “No” occasionally. It won’t hurt other people’s feelings as much as you think and is simply a method to be more assertive in your own life, to better help you meet your own needs.

· Learn to just say, “No” occasionally. It won’t hurt other people’s feelings as much as you think and is simply a method to be more assertive in your own life, to better help you meet your own needs.

Letting go helps us to live in a more peaceful state of mind and helps restore our balance. It allows others to be responsible for themselves and for us to take our hands off situations that do not belong to us. This frees us from unnecessary stress.” ~Melody Beattie


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