I have thought a lot about stress. I have experienced a lot of stress.
Lastly, I have seen a lot of stressed out people.
But, what I have found, is that stress comes down to just one thing….
Are you ready for it?
All stress boils down to a feeling of disempowerment. We feel stress when there are circumstances that are out of our control, that impact us, that we feel we cannot change. Therefore, to cope with stress, we need to face our stress head on, deal with the issues at hand, and empower ourselves to take charge of our life and our destiny.
Stress can fall into a few different categories, however it all goes back to a feeling of being unempowered. Here are some examples:
1. Stress About Money
We all get stressed about money. We could just be starting out on our careers and feel that we aren’t making enough to cover our costs. We could be in debt. We could be in a place where we don’t have enough savings and a one-off emergency can derail us. But really the root of the matter is that we aren’t in a place where we are controlling our destiny. So if money is your issue, it’s important to face the issue and analyze why it is an issue and then put in a plan to move forward. Just the act of accepting the situation and facing it, then taking action to mobilize a plan will change your stress in that you are doing your part in resolving the problem. Usually, once you do your part, the persistence pays off and the universe throws you a bone.
The tricky part, it’s sometimes easier to enact a plan when you are a party of one. But if you have a spouse or partner, part of dealing with the stress is to share the burden, analyze the position together, develop joint goals, and a path forward. It also requires constantly reassessing your situation on a regular basis to determine if adjustments are needed.
One you put your plan in place or share your stress with someone who can help, you will likely feel immediately better and can move forward to the next step.
2. Stress About Health
It is inevitable at some time or other, we or a loved one will run into health issues. Health issues are one of the worst categories to deal with as we may run into situations or issues where we don’t understand why we are feeling the way we do, we may go to the doctor that prescribes us medication that has side effects, and it may impact our ability to work, which leads to stress about money and then a feeling of impotence. But again, at the heart of it all is a lack of control over our own situation. Health issues are happening to us, and derailing our lives leading us to potentially spiral downward.
This is an interesting and likely controversial topic, but I am a firm believer that you control your destiny including your health. That is to say, your health is your responsibility and taking control over it, will lead you to the improvement that you need. It may lead you to the right doctor, or it may lead you to the right information to help you make the changes that you need to make. Since the birth of my 3rd son, I have had health issues including headaches, inability to lose weight, irritability, bloating, and other symptoms. Then, when my father passed away, my issues became significantly worse, as the prior health issues combined with the physical symptoms of grief were almost too much to bear. The tipping point for me was when I read a study that found that of a survey of cancer patients, nearly every patient had experienced a traumatic life event nearly two years prior, and it got me to thinking that I had to tackle my health issues before they tackled me. I had always been a healthy individual prior to these life events and my present health was extremely distressing.
After a series of trial and error, I have found my way through fasting and other supporting cleanses including salt water flushes, enemas, and a slow transition to a healthier diet. Just the ability to take my health into my own hands has given me a feeling of empowerment and also gives energy to the other areas of life that I couldn’t give attention to when my health was failing me.
3. Stress About Relationships
Just like the others, relationships can be stressful when we can’t understand the other person we are in a relationship with or be able to relate to them. This gives us a feeling of being out of control and a sense of unpredictability that is scary. We all know tension when we feel it, and unspoken tension is among the worst stressors. You often will get a nagging feeling that something isn’t right and needs to be dealth with, yet its scary to have difficult conversations with the people that you care about, so we often decide to avoid them, which actually only makes the matter worse in the long run.
I have met or encountered many people who are never at fault. They have issues with other people, yet the other person is always to blame. The issue is that with this mentality, you are never in a position to take control of your life. You are always the victim of your circumstances instead of part of the solution. Back to our original issue, the stress is caused by feeling out of control with the relationship with no ability to solve it.
So how can we fix these issues:
1. Listen to yourself
You know yourself best. If something doesn’t feel right, pinpoint it and just listen to it. What is the real problem? Is it something unresolved that you haven’t dealt with? Are you spending more than you are making? Are you not taking accountability in your relationships? Is your diet terrible, yet you don’t take steps to improve it?
2. Affirm that you can deal with it
Next accept that the situation is what it is. You might not like the situation that you have gotten yourself into, but you need to get out of it. Affirm to yourself that you can. I often use affirmations to set myself on a positive trajectory. My favorite, and I kid you not is “I’m beautiful, I’m smart, I’m confident, and goddamnit people like me!” The last line is from an old SNL, but I seriously used to use this before every big meeting I had, until I didn’t need the affirmation anymore.
3. Come up with a plan
A plan doesn’t mean you need to have everything figured out, it just means that you have to have a forward moving direction. Your plan could be a list of 2 people you need to talk to (i.e. a doctor, a financial advisor, your spouse, your children, someone at work, etc.) or it could be a list of things to research or a series of experiments you need to try.
4. Take action
There is nothing that feels as good as taking action. When I started this blog, it was completely overwhelming. I had a foggy vision, some vague idea of what to do, but started to get paralysis to get started. But then I just friggin started. And now I can’t believe that I actually have some blog posts and some comments. Just the act of taking action has led me past some major doubts and fears about blogging and empowered me to keep going.
It may also be something that can be more quickly fixed such as dealing with a person that you are having trouble with. You may have a person you work with or someone in your family that you are not relating to well. It may be as simple as having that difficult conversation so that you can clear the air and move forward. Whatever that nagging feeling is, listen to it then take action to fix it.
5. Reassess your situation
One you get started tackling your issue, it’s easy to lose steam and momentum when you aren’t meeting your goals as fast as you want to. This leads to stress and frustration and can derail the progress you made. It’s okay to get stuck, but when you are, reassess where you are, cry your frustration out or pat yourself on the back for progress made. Appreciate that these difficult moments are what will make you into the person that you will become. Then move forward again, because you are in control of your destiny.
And don’t forget, you are empowered and in control of your destiny. Any positive action you take, is planting the seeds for the longer term. Plant positive seeds and watch them sprout. There may be rainy days where you feel that the seeds aren’t growing, but these days are actually the most needed days for them to sprout.