What do you focus on when you wake up?
Do your thoughts go something like this:
“I have to hurry, I will be late, there is so much to do, where will I begin, I wish I could have slept longer, I wish I hadn’t stayed up so late, did I make the kid’s lunch………
From the moment we wake up to the time we finally lay our thoughts down for the night, we are focusing on some part of life. Our thoughts often revolve around all the “have to’s” – the things we have to accomplish in order to survive.
After awhile our thoughts become so adrenalin filled we become highly charged and stressed before we leave home for work.
Before we know it, stress is ruling our lives – we aren’t. We are creating a pattern – a habit – a way of thinking that creates tension that works against us.
Stress. Everyone lives with it. But can you make it work for you?
We were made to deal with stress
Stress is the energy that helps us accomplish things. When we harness that energy and use it appropriately we will be energized and able to accomplish the things we want to accomplish.
We could liken our bodies to that of a well maintained car engine. As long as it is taken care of, it will run effectively and smoothly for a long, long time. But when neglected or not taken care of, that engine begins to break down.
So it is with us. It is estimated that around 75% of doctor’s visits are attributed to high and prolonged levels of stress – the kind that we would call dis-stress. Consider the following:
- Stress contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other illnesses
- Stress contributes to the development of alcoholism, obesity, suicide, drug addiction, cigarette addiction and other harmful behaviors
- Prolonged stress exhausts the adrenal glands, depletes the nervous system and can cause symptoms such as ulcers, chest pains, headaches, depression and finally exhaustion. It also lowers the immune system which protects us from many serious diseases
- Recurring health problems of any type can be a signal that we are under high levels of stress that require our attention. When the body is highly stressed for too long, it gets out of balance and that imbalance is expressed with disease.
We were designed to deal with life. Our internal “engines” were made to function in many different situations. However, when overloaded and fatigued for longer and longer periods of time, we begin to show signs of distress.
Normal stress gradually becomes “dis-stress” when we are constantly geared up for action without an opportunity to recuperate.
Yet, not everyone who experiences similar stressful events becomes dis-stressed. It seems a lot of what creates distress is how we respond to the “stressors” in our life.
We are extremely resilient and flexible. Even when high levels of stress extend for longer periods of time, we are still able to cope.
Dis-stress occurs when we don’t find a way to resolve the problems we face over a long period of time and our energy is put into worry and anxiety and fear. We begin to focus on what we can’t do – not what we can do.
Focus on what you can do – not what you can’t
We maintain stressful habits because they are just that – habits – and we are no longer aware of them.
How we think and look at life becomes a habit, looking for everything that could go wrong instead of all the things that do go right is a habit.
Our patterns of doing things become a habit – even when they are working against us. It is easier, even though it may be destructive, to do things we have always done them rather than bringing about constructive changes.
To change the dis-stress in our lives, we need to change the habits that continue to keep it in place.
Tracking our daily activities, as boring as it may sound, is the best way to discover the habits that keep us from accomplishing the things we need to do or want to do.
So for a week, track your activities every day: when you get up – what you do – when you leave for work. If you work from home, do you have a regular work schedule set up. Continue tracking throughout the day. Include the times you eat, when and how you relax, bedtimes, etc. What activities create more stress? When do you feel energized? When do you feel more stressed?What might different routines reduce unwanted stress?
Then for a week, track your thoughts. Negative thinking creates a lot of unnecessary stress. We want to release the energy we have instead of using that energy to worry. Each day, record your thoughts throughout the day. What are your thoughts telling you – about you and your capabilities? Do you hear yourself saying “I can’t” more than “I can”? When does your stress levels rise?
We choose our responses to life
We choose to believe we can’t – instead of looking for ways we can.
We choose to focus on resolving problems – instead of allowing problems to grow bigger than life.
We choose to keep habits in place that waste our time instead of using time efficiently for our benefit.
We choose to maintain an unhealthy attitude towards ourselves and others. Changing our mindset to look for things of gratitude and blessings and the good in others is a choice of humility and gratefulness that nurtures peace, happiness and accomplishmen.
You will find more information on understanding and using stress positively, in my book, “Use Stress to Meet Your Goals, 12 steps to understanding stress and turning it into a positive force” available on my website. It defines how we experience stress and steps we can take to reduce its negativity and harness it instead to reach our goals. It includes an Mp 3 recording as well.
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