It seems that I am constantly confronted by the “fact” that I must reduce my stress load or I am at risk for developing or exacerbating health problems of all kinds. Furthermore, without self-intervention to reduce my stress, I am also at risk for career burnout, relationship problems, and psychological misery. Based on the glut of information I’ve read and heard about the horrors of stress-related-problems, I’m pretty worried (i.e., stressed).
Over the last few years I’ve seen hundreds of articles devoted to the topic of stress (in magazines, newspapers, and scientifically based medical and psychological journals) and watched tons of news programs that feature “Stress Reduction Experts” who describe and explain (ad nauseam) the dangers of living with stress. People (me?) must be awfully interested in stress as a topic; maybe it’s hip to be stressed out.
Frankly, hip or not, I’m sick of being so damn aware of my stress load and how vital it is that I reduce it. I’ve grown weary on the subject of Stress. I GET IT: STRESS IS BAD!!! According to the research I’ve seen, if I don’t reduce my stress (and fast) I’ll probably get cancer and die before my time.
I “Googled” Stress Related Illnesses and here are the top 10 per WebMD.com:
Other frequently identified stress-related-disorders included Panic Attacks, Eating Disorders, Skin Disorders, Systemic Infections and Cancer.
Lists like these make me believe that pretty much everything that is wrong with me, was wrong with me, or will be wrong with me is, was or will be related to my stress.
By the way, if one more doctor or “healthcare professional” tells me that exercise is the cure for stress, I’m going to kick-box him or her right in the mouth.
Stress is caused by internal conflict, not love handles. If I’m stressed it’s because I don’t want to be doing whatever it is I’m doing or I don’t want to feel whatever it is I’m feeling. The trick to managing stress is in being able to first discern between what is in my power to change and what is beyond my control. Secondly, if I am disturbed by a problem that I can actually fix, I must have the courage to fix it. Thirdly, if I am experiencing a problem over which I have no control, I must accept it.
The famous Serenity Prayer teaches the solution to stress in the simplest terms: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. This simple prayer is probably the greatest stress-management tool of all time. Memorize it and then trash all those articles and books about stress because the 25 words of the Serenity Prayer will teach you all you need to know about stress management.
I hear breathing helps too.