Stress is a killer.
We don’t always think of stress as being deadly, but studies have shown that stress not only keeps us up at night, but we’re more likely to get sick when we’re stressed out. Over time, stress affects your heart and blood pressure, and can eventually kill you. People who are stressed live shorter lives than people who do not.
Before you start fearing for your life, know that you CAN make a difference. By learning to let go of the small stuff in your life, you’ll be better able to handle the bigger things. And while you might still experience stress, you’ll be able to better cope with it and thereby save your sanity – and your health – from the long-term effects of out of control stress.
How do you do that?
- Accept that there’s going to be stress. Let’s face it; there’s always going to be something that will put the pressure on – whether it’s a deadline for a project or an unpleasant encounter with your boss or a loved one. By acknowledging that not everything is going to go right makes you better able to handle it when things do go wrong.
- Take a moment and breathe – or better, take two and try practicing mindfulness. Once you’ve acknowledged the stress for what it is, take a deep breath, and then another. Don’t let your emotions overwhelm you. By being mindful, or meditating you gain back control. Breathe in and out deeply, taking the time to focus on that single act until you’re calm again.
- Allow yourself to examine what’s stressing you. But only take a moment. By putting a time limit on stressful thinking, you keep from wallowing in fear or anger. Why think about it at all? Because chances are there’s going to be some problem solving necessary to deal with whatever is causing the stress. Give yourself enough time to examine the problem, and then set it aside so that you can work on the solution.
- Realize that it’s not that bad. If you need to make a comparison, is this indeed your worst day EVER? Even if it is, is it worse than everyone else’s day? By comparing, you’re sometimes better able to put things into perspective. But be careful – sometimes comparisons go the other way, and you feel like everyone else has it better than you. If that happens, stop that thinking at the root and back out.
Stress doesn’t have to destroy you, especially when it’s made up of a whole lot of small stuff that’s more irritating than life-changing. By managing the small stuff, you protect not just your mind but your body as well. So don’t sweat the small stuff. And realize really that in the end – it’s all small stuff.