We were meant to handle stress.
However, when our level of stress continues to rise without relief, we soon become flooded. Like rising water in a river, when it overflows its banks, everything around it is flooded and damaged. High levels of stress can begin to damage our health as well.
We often think of stress as major events. But it is often the accumulation of many small stresses that eventually overwhelm us eroding our ability to think and respond. Life becomes an endless “to do” list. Worry and anxiety are constantly at the fringes of our minds and fears become bigger than life. We fall into a downward spiral of frustration, anger and feeling out of control. We resign ourselves to working to survive and a joyless existence.
With the demand to do more, better and in less time, we may feel as though we are on a roller coaster ride careening round breathless corners and up and down steep slopes. Like the rider at carnival rides, we feel no control over our lives. Yet, we can have control.
Here are three suggestions to help take back your life.
1. Take a quick inventory of your life right now. I know – I know – you are too busy to sit down with a pad and pencil. Yet, unless we slow down long enough to take stock of what we are doing or not doing we won’t be able to make the changes we want. What do you have control over? What don’t you have control over? Highlight the ones that you have control of. Which ones can you eliminate or replace?
2. Lifestyle. A lifestyle becomes a habit. It may have been okay at some point in life to be carefree, but is no longer productive today. Without some predictable and reliable routines, life becomes hectic and disorganized. You may think that routines are boring and stifling – but they really give you the freedom to choose how you spend your time.
3. Say no. No to all the things you believe you have to have – no to all the things you believe you have to do. When work is 24-7 with few breaks, we become exhausted and relaxation is snatched on the run. Some people thrive on the adrenalin rush of life in the fast lane. But for most of us, we need predetermined and planned breaks that actually allow time to rest and recharge.
Next week we will look at the inventory and make some plans of action.
©2011, Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC