How to Live Stress Free and Happy
What Is Stress? What Causes It? And What Are Its Symptoms?
Before we discuss exactly how to live stress free and happy, let's look at what stress is...
Some 90% of doctor visits are for stress-related issues. And stress is indeed a big contributor to illness and disease in the Western world...
The triggers for stress are all around us, every minute of every day...things like being stuck in traffic, being late for an appointment, shopping in a busy supermarket, getting ready for an exam or a job interview, an unexpected bill, losing your keys, etc.
And then we have the really big issues that affect us all at one time or another, such as; getting married, divorce, moving home, changing jobs, losing one's job, serious illness or death in the family.
So you could be forgiven for believing that all stress comes from the outside. But you would be wrong. Stress comes from within. It's the feeling of not having control over these external issues and your inability to deal with them that causes stress...
Fight or Flight
You see, your body has an in-built safety mechanism, often referred to as its 'fight or flight' or 'stress' response, which has been with us since our very beginnings.
Through the ages, it has helped to protect us from imminent danger -- for example wild animals, other warlike tribes, etc. -- by instantly setting the body up to give us the best chance to fight the danger or run away from it.
It does this by releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones into our bloodstream when the brain senses our fear or anxiety and, taking no chances, takes this to mean that we are in danger.
Noradrenaline helps to redirect blood from low priority areas, such as your abdomen and skin, to high priority areas, such as your muscles, to give them a boost. Adrenaline helps to speed up your breathing so that you take in extra oxygen to help feed that muscle boost.
Today, you're not likely to be confronted by such threats, but your brain can still mistake worry or anxiety as some sort of 'threat' and trigger its stress response...
Now, in the old days, once the danger had gone, your body's chemistry would have returned it to its normal relaxed state. But with today's ever faster, stressful lifestyle, your body's fight or flight response may not switch off.
So,in the absence of any clear threat that you need to deal with, and with the chemical changes in your body, you then exhibit typical stress symptoms, things like:-
- racing heartbeat
- tight chest
- clenched jaw
- teeth grinding
- feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope
- and many more.
However, stress is not all bad for you. For example, you need stress to keep you focused, sharp, alert, and so on. It's only when the stress gets so great that it starts to affect your physical and mental health that it becomes a major problem that needs to be dealt with.
So, let's now look at how to live stress free and happy...
How to Live Stress Free and Happy
First off, you should recognise that you generally don't have control over other people and events. What you can control, however, is how you react and respond to those external issues.
Living stress free is all about gaining control. When you're in control of your emotions, it changes how you perceive things and then how you react to them.
Here are a few tips on how to live stress free:-
1. Don't Keep Things to Yourself
Don't internalize everything. Don't keep things to yourself, hoping they will just go away: they won't and your health will suffer. Open up to your family, a trusted friend or your doctor about any issues you have. Don't think that this is a sign of weakness; it isn't, it's the exact opposite.
2. Take Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is a great way to take your mind off issues that are troubling you. When you are exercising regularly your body releases chemicals called endorphins which help to make you feel more positive, more energized and also help to improve self-esteem.
There are many things that you can do, things like; running, swimming, cycling, brisk walking, even join a gym if you can. Try to fit 20 min to 30 min of some sort of exercise into your day. You'll notice real benefits.
3. Learn to Relax
This may sound difficult, given everything going on around you, but just as your body triggers chemical changes when you stress, it also causes other chemical changes when you relax.
The outcome is that you end up with a feeling of contentment and an improved frame of mind. So that, when faced with external stressors, you are able to see those for what they really are...
For example, when you are relaxed and content, you don't take things personally, small issues or problems are just that: small, larger problems become smaller and more easily resolved, and so on. In other words you see the world for what it is, not what you 'feel' that it is.
(1) Relaxing can be as simple as taking time out every day to listen to some soft music, reading a diverting book, engaging in an hobby like painting or sketching.
(2) Just lie back in bed or a comfy armchair and relax. Close your eyes. Breath in slowly through your nose for a count of 5, then slowly out through your mouth for a count of 5, and repeat. As you do this, think of calming scenes such as the beach, the countryside, or recall those occasions in your past when you felt oh-so-good.
(3) But there are techniques to help you relax too: things such as yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis and so on. Look up a class near you. Apart from the techniques you'll learn there, the very act of attending a regular class and meeting other like-minded folks will also help to relieve your stress.
Try these and see if they work for you. But the key is to stick with them.
So there you go...a few simple tips on how to live your life stress free. I hope you've found this article useful. If you have, please leave a comment; I'd really appreciate it.
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How to Cope With Stress: Professor Cary Cooper
The content of this Hub is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for proper medical diagnosis, treatment or advice, and you should not assume that it is. Always consult your health-care provider / physician / doctor before taking any medications, natural remedies, supplements, or making any major changes to your diet.
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