Millions complain of stress, pressure, worry, things of this nature. Some will advise you to take pharmaceuticals to “manage” stress – pills that alter brain chemistry, pills that require long lists of warnings and side effects, including agitation, hostility, suicidal and violent thoughts or actions. These are the psychoactive variety of drugs: antidepressants, amphetamine-like compounds, etc. Do we really want to go that route? Are there ways to alleviate stress that make us healthier and stronger – instead of numb, disassociated or cut off from reality? Fortunately, there are.
There are several ways people deal with stress. The first is an attempt to numb or medicate it through alcohol or other chemicals as mentioned above. The next method is to reduce one’s sphere of influence, to cut oneself off from reaching further into life or society: the would-be entrepreneur who settles for a dull desk job because it is more “secure”; the potential artist who gives into the “constructive criticism” of others and “keeps his day job,” never to pursue his art again. These first two don’t offer much forward momentum in the game we call life. Is there a third alternative? Again, fortunately for us, the answer is yes:
- Set your goals. Don’t hesitate to aim high. What do you want out of life for you, your family, your group, mankind in general? Work that out.
- Do you have a plan? Draw up your plan to get from point A to point B. Is it detailed? Does it really contain the steps to take you where you want to go? This could take some work, but it is a vital action.
- Remove distractions. You can be your own worst enemy by procrastinating, not following through on what you know is right, dishonesty with yourself and others. All these things can get in your road. Take steps to clear the path. No one is perfect, but you can get yourself going in the right direction.
- Who’s on your team? Assuming you have a constructive goal, you’ll want to keep your eyes out for people that thrive only when you fail. These are the people that advise you “don’t quit your day job.” If they are not on your side, often the best idea is to simply avoid them. Conversely, others will be supportive and want to see you achieve your dreams. Help these people and they’ll help you.
- Organize. Nothing can disperse your attention like disorganization. From your house to your office, is it set up for industrious activity? Do things have a place and when you’re done with something, do you put it back where you got it? Set up your area so it calms your nerves instead of rattles them.
- Nutrition. Nothing depresses one quite like insufficient nutrition. Too many of us pick up our meals on the fly with little to no thought as to actual nutritional value. The result is a body that is agitated and essentially starving. Putting a little more work into it – eating whole or organic foods that contain real nutrients – adds up to more energy and confidence.
- Exercise. Millions of us sit at a desk all day looking at a computer screen that is about two feet from our eyes. You’ve got get out every day – or at least every other day – and get your body moving. Failure to do so results in depressed mood and lack of verve for tackling life’s problems, not to mention countless health issues.
- Expand your interests. There’s nothing wrong with being good at one thing and specializing in that, but once you’ve got the above steps reasonably under control, why not try branching out? You could take that night class you’ve been putting off the last few years; learn to play the guitar (or banjo, or harmonica, or…); take up a martial art. All manner of avenues are open to you to elevate your confidence and competence. If your schedule is all booked up but you’re having a good time, this is the kind of “stress” you want. Don’t forget to have fun!
Those are a few suggestions for those seeking to reduce stress. It may be a slightly different view, but it’s one that doesn’t underestimate the power of the individual.