(PART-2) ... That’s when things get really ugly.
Stress running rampant can cause anything from the common but painful stress headache to high blood pressure, heart problems and chest pain, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, anxiety and depression.
Left unchecked, these ailments bring on disease or worsen symptoms in those living with disease. So we see that stress is a type of disease, an evil invader that we can either fight or surrender one of our most precious of possessions, our quality of life.
Unfortunately, the quick fixes we often reach for only worsen the condition. Many in a state of distress may abuse alcohol, drugs or engage in other destructive behaviors in an attempt to relieve the weight of it all.
These actions are not the road to take; they will only leave one feeling guilty, heaping more stress on an already blazing inferno.
Drug and alcohol abuse are a plague on our nation, resulting in victims attempting to treat the symptoms of stress and not the cause.
I know this firsthand: my 47-year-old brother recently died of alcohol abuse.
It’s a real problem and it’s out of control in this country! The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has declared stress “a hazard of the work place.”
We have let stress run us ragged and steal our joy; we can’t continue like this. I’m not willing to give up my joy—how about you? Nevertheless, we continue to let the plague of stress overwhelm us, creating statistics that should alarm the most in denial individuals.
It’s reported that nearly 75 to 90 percent of all doctor’s visits are stress related, costing Americans nearly $300 billion annually. We are killing ourselves. Why? If we heed the warning signs, we can do much to win this war.
But America, eternally chasing the almighty dollar, won’t stop for a second to seriously assess our situation and take the necessary steps to fix the problem.
So, here are some suggestions to help us slow the hamster wheel we’re running on and calm the frenzy of stress. Don’t buy into the faulty thinking of my frantic friend.
The world doesn’t depend on you, and saying “no” can save you. It’s time to make some changes. If stress, fear, and intuition responses are the Holy Grail of self-preservation, then a healthy diet, daily exercise and adequate sleep are our A-Team of first response rescue!
Yes, a low-fat, high-fiber, nutrient-dense diet can actually help your mental state—who knew?! However, the buck doesn’t stop there. It’s not just the food itself; it’s also the way in which we eat.
Do you find yourself running around the city in your minivan or SUV, with the kids barking takeout orders and changing for soccer, karate, softball, etc. in the car? I’m stressed just thinking about it.
Slow down, cook together and have a healthy meal at the table while engaging in a meaningful discussion of the day’s activities. I guarantee you, your blood pressure will drop and the kids will profoundly feel the peaceful fallout.
You can give me excuses all day long about how you are so busy and stressed you have no time to exercise, I’ll come back at you with “how much time do you have to get your affairs in order if you don’t?”
Trust me, if I have time to fit it in, so do you. It can mean 15 minutes in the morning, 15 at lunch with a power walk and 15 after you come home from work. Consider taking the kids and the family dog; our pets are hitting the overweight mark along with us. Don’t forget about getting enough rest.
Start with shutting down your electronic devices at a certain time every day. For example, don’t answer your emails before going to bed. They will wait until tomorrow in most cases. I learned that the hard way, but here’s how I beat this one.
As a business owner with a home office, I often have to answer an email or two on a Sunday, or after 8 p.m. on a weekday. So I, with the help of my husband (my built-in A-Team), devised a plan: I’ll ask him to go to my computer, while I stand off in the distance so I can’t see the email.
He logs on and looks for any email I need to respond to. He finds it, reads it to me and I dictate a three- or four-sentence response that he is kind enough to type and send. Off we go to taking our afternoon nap or, if it’s night, off to bed! If he’s not home, I deal with them in the morning: Hey, as Clint Eastwood says in Dirty Harry, “A man has got to know his limitations.”
This is my system. Be creative, you’ll find a system that works for you. We can all take a hint from our European counterparts who often just close up shop for an hour or two in the middle of the day to engage in a long, relaxing lunch, laden with great conversation and a nap.
I’d like to close with a real-life experience that I pray might make a difference in someone’s life or possibly even save a life. It’s the story of a dear friend and client. Let’s call him “Joe.”
I sat with down with Joe not too long ago to have yet another conversation about getting a hold of his problems with stress. He refused to heed my advice no matter what I tried.
I literally begged him to listen, telling him that if he stayed on the path he was on, his family would be out one great dad and devoted husband. He told me that I was hitting below the belt, to which I responded, “I’ll hit you wherever I have to, to wake you up.”
He appreciated it, but a little too late. Less than a month later, he had a stroke. He’s alive, but even the stroke didn’t shake him enough to start on a path of healing. So, I’ll say one last time with the most sincere of intentions: Let’s draw a line in the sand today and make the necessary changes to beat stress before it’s too late. Until next time, my friends, live well and POWER ON. Candace