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Armijo: Get a handle on your stress

Face it, life can be stressful for many of us. We are constantly bombarded with things we “need” to do on a daily basis. We have obligations with our children, our friends, family, and work … with very little time for ourselves. This leads us to feel overwhelmed, burned out and stressed due to unbalance in our lives.

Some people turn to self-medicating to manage their stress. They drink a little more alcohol, use a little more cannabis, or eat more sweets to ease the stress. These are short-term and potentially dangerous routes to take and often require more of each indulgence to numb the pain over time.

How are we supposed to handle any more stress when we already feel like our Jenga tower is ready to topple? The answer is to see our stress as something beneficial. An athlete can transmute their stress and anxiety before an event into extra energy or strength to access it when they need it most. A well-seasoned chef will use the stress of a busy night in the restaurant to produce more consistent and delicious dishes with fewer errors. There are many creative minds such as authors, filmmakers, speakers, etc. who have survived incredible odds (stressful situations) only to create award-winning pieces. Stress can be beneficial if utilized correctly.

We must first understand that most of our stress is a product of our own creation. Much of our stress is typically based on past events. Stress may be based on a past event in which you had a negative interaction with somebody. Maybe, in the past, you showed up late to an important event and received backlash for it. Then you relate this feeling on your way to the next important event which causes stress and anxiety. These are past experiences that caused us stress, yet we hold them as fresh in our minds as the day they happened. We continue to apply them to current and future scenarios even though they are no longer relevant.

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We need to understand that the past is just that … the past. It is over and done and cannot cause us to undergo any more pain, worry, or fear unless we allow it to. Negative stress is a physiological byproduct of our past worries and thoughts that we identify with even though it is not realistic to do so.

Have you ever experienced an encounter that caused you so much pain, worry, and fear that every time you encountered a similar situation you would freeze up? This is due to identifying with a past event that had absolutely no bearing on your current situation. Unfortunately, we do this all the time.

As humans, we tend to find a scapegoat for our issues. “My mother-in-law hates me,” or, “my boss thinks I’m incompetent,” or “jobs in my area do not pay enough.” These are all beliefs based on past events that we have solidified as our own reality. It is much more difficult to let go of past beliefs and understand that, although they may have taken place, they no longer have an impact on our lives.

Begin managing your stress by setting aside time for yourself (no excuses). You can begin by starting a morning routine to put your day in perspective before anyone even wakes up in your household. A book like ​”The Miracle Morning”​ by Hal Elrod has helped many people learn to create better morning habits which also carries over to their days. I, for example, take at least 30 minutes per day to read a book in the bath after I tuck in the kids. If I have time, I will spend 20 minutes with a meditation (it’s simple and easy to find something on YouTube to use) to clear out the jumble of thoughts going through my mind.

Exercise has a tremendous impact on combatting stress through physical release as well as dopamine release. However, meditation works just as well if you are not a fan of physical fitness. The ultimate goal when dealing with stress is to calm the mind and to release ourselves from compounding stress on top of stress.

Our negative stress patterns are usually due to a lack of focus and influence by outside circumstances. When we begin to relax our mind we can rid ourselves of stress and begin to change our negative stress into a laser-like focus just like the athletes and professionals mentioned previously. It is also important to realize that other people’s opinions have no bearing on you. In fact, use the phrase “What you think of me is none of ​my​ business” when faced with someone who may normally cause you stress. This simple phrase will help to diminish the power some people seem to have over you.

Remember stress is not all bad. Good stress allows our brain to operate at a higher efficiency through chemical release. It can allow us to be more effective in our work, inspire creativity, and improve our athleticism. Competent stress management allows one to feel free and able to handle any situation that may come their way. There are times when we will experience more stress due to unforeseen circumstances, but successful stress management is readily available to us all.

Judge your negative stress by how realistic it truly is. Most of the time we are stressing about past events that are no longer relevant to our current lives. Be sure to find your solace when you need it most. Try to see life as easy instead of difficult.

If you don’t want to cook dinner one night, then order in. If you do not want to attend that after-work event, then stay home read a good book and take a hot bath. Find time for your own decompression, balance, and alignment. Make sure to leave your work stress at work and past stress in the past. Let go of all the things you cannot control and do not allow yourself to feel guilt for those things.


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