Altar Call -- Opelika-Auburn News
February 5, 2006
Seven secrets for managing daily stress
The word "stress" can have
different meanings. Recently I had a "stress test" ordered by my
physician. †Bridges are built to
withstand the stress of a prescribed amount of weight. Teachers may stress the
importance of a midterm exam.
More commonly the word is used to describe the strain or tension of the home or
the work place. Feeling drained and overworked, we may lament that "the
stress of this job is killing me." In the heat of an argument at home, we
may walk away with the complaint, "Iím tired of dealing with the stress of
If we are to live well, we must learn to manage the stress that is common to
daily living. Allow me to offer seven successful secrets for handling daily
- Think positively about stress. It is not all bad. We
need a certain amount of it. Few of us would ever get anything done
without some stress. The presence of some stress in our lives makes us
productive. We must endure the stress of work in order to avoid the stress
of going hungry. Think of stress as you do salt and pepper, without a
little of which food would be insipid. So life without stress would be
bland and boring. The only people who are completely free of stress are
stacked neatly in the cemetery. You are alive, and life is stressful. To
embrace life we must learn to embrace stress as well.
- Take charge of your attitude. Learn to control the way
you react to stressful situations. Tell yourself that you are the boss of
your own mind; you alone can determine how you will react to whatever
tension you are facing. Make up your mind that even if others around you
fall to pieces, you will remain calm. So what if people do not behave as
you think they should. You cannot control the behavior or attitudes of
others. But you can control your own. And that is a big assignment! In
fact, it is a lifelong challenge.
- Find something to laugh about no matter how tough
things get. Remind yourself it could always be worse. Remember a time when
it was and you got through it anyway. Laugh at yourself. If someone
blunders and does something stupid, smile instead of getting angry. Recall
how many stupid things you have done yourself. Think about how silly we
all are to get bent out of shape over the silliest things. A hundred years
from now, who will care? A little humor can often ease the tension and
restore your sanity.
- Refuse to surrender to stress. Think of it as a
monster, trying to reduce you to a bundle of nerves. Tell the Stress
Monster to back off. It has been on your back before and you survived. You
did it once; you can do it again, because you are a survivor, not a
victim. So what if you are about to go over the edge. Walk away from it.
Leave the struggle for a spell. You can have another go at it tomorrow.
Every battle does not have to be won today. If you allow yourself to go to
pieces, stress wins.
- Get some rest. It is amazing what a little rest will do
for the human body and the mind. Eight hours of sleep will do wonders for
your capacity to think clearly. Quit trying to "get everything
done" today. Most of it can wait until tomorrow. Stop bragging about
how little sleep you need at night. A good nightís rest may just be the
best medicine you can take to cure the fever of stress.
- Step back from the scene of your stress and try to
think objectively about your situation. Ask what you can do to help
yourself. Try to pinpoint the major problem. Are you trying to do too
much? Is your plate too full? Would the universe collapse if you
eliminated a few nonessentials and simplified your life? Would your life
be freer of tension if you were content with doing fewer things, and doing
them well? Instead of expecting other people to make your life easier,
start doing what you can to help yourself. And stop blaming other people
for the tension in your life. Give them a break. They may be doing the
best they can, given the fact that they must put up with you.
- Stop giving other people permission to make you angry
or upset. Many of us allow ourselves to get stressed out by what other
people say, or donít say, to us. No one can annoy or irritate you unless
you give them permission to do so. Refuse to do it. Refuse to give other
people such power over you. Stop allowing them to rattle your cage. Let
them do or say what they will but keep your cool. Remain unruffled and
thus in charge of your own disposition. Then, when you put your head on
your pillow at night, you can sleep like a baby. You can fall asleep proud
of yourself for remaining calm under the pressure that someone else tried
to dump on you.
Stress can mangle our lives unless we
learn how embrace it, and manage it, on a daily basis. By managing it we can
make it work for us, thus allowing it to become more of a friend than a foe.
The inward calmness we may gain from stress management is worth our best
effort. + + + +