It’s no secret we live in a hurried society. It seems most people are always on the go. It can be hard to find peace and calm when time seems to slip away before our very eyes. While we can’t always drastically change our lifestyle overnight, we can change the way we frame stress and respond to stressors, say two local experts.
First, it’s a matter of realizing the source of stress. Oftentimes, it’s ourselves. “Stressed people tend to ‘over-do,’” said Roger Hargus, executive director of Behavioral Health at Lutheran Health Network. “That is, (they) overeat, overdrink, take drugs and overwork. These things should be avoided and not become habitual ways of dealing with stress. In the long run, they add to the problems.” Speaking of problems, Hargus cites such stress-induced health concerns as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, anxiety and depression.
But these problems can be avoided with a little foresight. “One of the most important action steps we can take is to feel like we have some sense of control over our schedule and daily lives,” Hargus said. “When we live life out of control, we are asking for problems.”
To that end, he advises taking “concrete steps” to plan and prioritize one’s schedule. That sometimes calls for saying ‘no’ to extra demands that only add stress (and later, guilt, when they are left undone), he said.
Along with simplifying, there’s a power in mindfulness, according to Mckenna Gottfried, well-being nurse navigator at the Parkview Center for Healthy Living. She cautions readers about the dangers of multi-tasking.
“Although we might consider the ability to multi-task a great benefit, especially with regard to that pesky to-do list, multitasking often initiates our tendency to autopilot,” she said. “Cruising on autopilot might help you get through your hectic day, but it will do nothing to nourish your well-being.” For example, habits like eating on the go, over-scheduling, consuming ourselves with negative thinking and neglecting to make time for one’s self can lead to feeling drained.
Find Your Joy
In order to counteract such behaviors, it becomes imperative to have coping mechanisms that bring joy. “For some, it might be connecting with the outdoors, indulging in the creative arts, taking a nap if your body asks for it or having a good laugh with a friend or family member,” said Gottfried. The bottom line is: Only you can prevent stress from taking over your life.