Three Ways to Manage Stress

Back when I was actively practicing Krav Maga (a self-defense system) I did a three-part series about the detrimental effects of what stress does to the body.

I interviewed a specialist in chiropractic neuroscience, Dr. James Todd Boyd, who specializes in Neurological Stress Reduction Therapy (NSRT) through the use of laser induction therapy or laser acupuncture which helps bring the neurological/ immune/ endocrine systems back into balance.

I remember the key thing that I learned from that interview was that when a person is in a state of stress, the body goes into a fight or flight mode. Certain hormones from the adrenal glands such as Cortisol, DHEA, and Adrenaline are released, which taxes the adrenal glands if we are in a constant state of stress (click here for a more detailed explanation). When we are under chronic stress, our adrenals cannot produce the proper amounts of Cortisol and it just flat-lines all day long. The adrenals literally wear themselves out so that you can't get that extra jump-start when you need it most. This in turn will throw the other neurotransmitters out of balance and then nothing functions properly. When that happens, you may experience symptoms such as:

Chronic fatigue
Joint stiffness
Aches and pains
Weight gain
Destabilized hormones
Compromised immune function which can lead to illness

The best way to illustrate what Cortisol, the hormone needed to deal with stress, does, is to compare that to gas in a car. Our body is the car that needs the gas to keep running. What happens if we run our car at an accelerated rate all the time without ever taking the time to fill it with more gas? After we're done running on fumes, our vehicle will eventually shut down. Like the car, we can't keep running our body at an accelerated rate without ever giving it time to replace it with more of the hormones, or gas, that we need to bring it back down to a state of balance. The results to our vehicle, our body, can prove disastrous.

When it comes to living life, stress is unavoidable. We may not have many options when it comes to the stress that comes our way, but we do have a choice as to how we manage it, however. I've read countless articles and tips about how stress should be managed, many of which advise that proper nutrition, restful sleep, exercise, meditation and a positive attitude is important to bringing the body back to a state of balance. All those things are very important, and I've utilized them to help me cope with stress better, but I'd like to address a few others that I feel had a huge impact in my recovery. 

Find Your Purpose and Pursue It

There's nothing worse than living an unfullfilled life. Not feeling like where you need to be leads to a very negative state of mind, and so many of us find ourselves in jobs that simply do not satisfiy us. That leads to more anxiety and that exacerbates stress. If a large part of our lives are going to be spent working, why not work towards a career that calls you? What do you love to do? Do you have a particular talent that brings you joy? If so, explore ways in which you can earn a living doing that. 

I've always known that I loved to write. Unfortunately, I didn't pursue a career in writing, initially, and that brought alot of dissatisfaction to my personal life. There were many reasons why I didn't pursue it, but the main one was the fear that I wouldn't make a decent living as a writer. I chose a career that would get me out of generational poverty and guarantee me a steady paycheck, so I went into teaching. It's a noble profession, and my heart goes out to all the teachers out there who have to do this very difficult job, but it wasn't what I dreamed of doing when I was a little girl. So, thirteen years ago, I made a solid decision to find ways to write for a living. I've had to straddle working jobs I didn't enjoy to pursue this, and I have to admit that there were times when it would've been comfortable to go back to that steady paycheck, but it wasn't a job that I could see myself waking up to every morning and getting excited about doing it. I don't write mainstream fiction, so the process has been slow, and it hasn't been easy. Being ill for the last seven years made things more challenging, but as I felt better, I finally took a leap of faith to re-launch my career full-time, this summer, writing for clients, which will help provide for my family and fund my projects as an independent author. It's a healthier balance for me, because I get to work my hours around my family, my husband appreciates the extra cash as much as I appreciate the extra help at home, and I feel fulfilled adding to the layers that define who I am as a human being that bring joy to my life.

I know that the fear of the unknown is uncertain and scary, but one thing I can take from this whole experience, and speak with absolute certainty, that if I can spend up to twelve hours writing for myself or clients, and it doesn't feel like work at all, then this is what I was meant to do. I can't see myself doing anything else. 

It's easier said that done, you might be thinking, and trust me, you're absolutely right about that, especially if you have a family to feed; I've been there. We shouldn't shy away from our obligations, especially if there are little ones involved. But ask yourself this: Is this something you can start off as a hobby, and then perhaps see if that hobby can turn into some way to bring in some sort of extra income? We're living in a great time when people are making a killing doing make-up demonstrations on Youtube, so if there's a will for them, there's gotta be a way for you. Brainstorm with your loved ones, find out what that is, dig deep, and dive into it. 

Turn off the Technology and Explore Nature

We're a middle class family on a budget, so we don't get to take fancy trips to Europe, have shopping sprees, or eat at expensive restaurants, but we do have plenty of nearby places we can visit for free or for a fraction of the cost that it takes going out to the movies. My husband and I set a goal this year to live a more active lifestyle, so we started visiting nearby parks. I was surprised as to how relaxed I felt being out there enjoying the beauty of nature. I will admit that it didn't come without protest, so don't be surprised if the kiddos aren't all in on this idea, especially if they aren't the outdoors-y type, but with a little patience, God always finds a way to win hearts when you give him the chance to show off his artistry. 

Just this month, my husband and I visited San Antonio's Japanese Gardens and we took the family to Krause Springs in Spicewoods,Texas. Of course, the kid protested, but once we started strolling through their beautiful butterfly gardens and took a dip in their cold springs, her whole demeanor changed. We even had a moment where we sat by the edge of the pool and just talked. It was refreshing to say the least, and I loved that moment, since we don't often get to do that when we're home distracted by television, Facetime friends, and gadgets. Yup, she's going through the teenage years, and I understand that mom and dad are more of an afterthought, but this helped us connect on a level we don't often get to do when we're at home distracted by technology. I felt recharged, refreshed, closer to my family, and I definitely plan to do more of that. 

Find Ways to Reignite the Romance

If you're in a relationship, it's so easy to become so involved with daily living that couples can forget quickly the reason why they fell in love in the first place. Nothing contributes to stress more than strained relationships with your life partner, so it's important to also make time to have a one-on-one reconnection. I know it's not always easy when you're busy raising a family. My husband is in law enforcement, and he works long and odd hours. With the relaunching of my copywriting business and running the homefront, we both have our hands full. Which is why we are very conscious to make time for each other on his days off. We have a motto that what we may lack in quantity time, we will make up for it in quality, so we really try to make our time together special. Don't get me wrong, I know finding the time and energy is hard. I totally get it. I'm a homebody by nature, and there have been times that we are both so exhausted, having Amazon Prime marathon runs while wearing my minion slippers, pjs, and a hair bun, are sometimes the default activity for the night, but we are both conscious to also try and balance that with something different to do as well that will help rekindle our love for each other, even if it's once a month. 

I'm a simple woman, so things don't have to get elaborately expensive. A simple workout date, where we get to practice some mitt work makes me giddy. His ideal version of a date is shooting, so when we can afford it, we'll go to the range. But there are times, we'll get all dressed up and have dinner and a movie; and other times, he'll make me a romantic dinner while playing Pavarotti in the background, because nothing else will do, ha! If our pocketbooks are a little dry, we'll spend some time playing dominoes and he'll let me beat him at Scrabble *wink* wink*. But whatever the circumstance, we make time for each other, both emotionally and intimately. And that intimate part is very important. I'm sure I don't have to get into the science part as to what that does for your stress levels, ahem, so let's just say that it is a healthy way to manage stress. Creating these types of habits nurtures closeness and peace with your partner where it matters most: your home, which should always be your refuge, and this is gonna sound a bit corny, but I have found that although the whole world can be falling apart, if you have a strong relationship with your loved one, there really is nothing you can't overcome together. I've been in toxic relationships before. I was raised in one and I've been married before. Having peace at home is a huge contributor to reducing stress. There is nothing worse than going home to a place where you need to recharge, both spiritually and emotionally, and you're facing a living hell with the people you are suppose to love. It's so important to make time to nurture your relationships in such a way that it will help create an environment where you are building each other up and not tearing each other apart. I can't stress that enough.

We live in a world full of stressors. It's unavoidable. But, if we can find ways to manage them in a positive and healthy way, then perhaps we can handle whatever life's journey throws our way. I hope these ideas have helped you in some way. Do you have other ways you manage stress? If so, feel free to comment and share what you do. I'd love to hear from you. 


Popular Posts