Stress & Emotional Health Post 8
With this series, I’ve tried to create a relatively simplified overview of stress responses and how to deal with them.
I’ve made the case that we aren’t designed to experience chronic, unrelenting stress that we feel we have no control of. I’ve also explained how stress is a major contributor to chronic disease and just causes us to feel bad overall. I strongly believe stress takes our well-being from us and dehumanizes us.
I’ve also discussed how chronic stress affects our minds, our emotions, and our bodies, and how our power structures are not set up to help us feel less stressed, but more stressed. I talked about pharmaceuticals and how they can be useful tools, but are not a fix for the underlying problem. The true fix requires strong desire and daily effort.
I also made it clear that you’re the only one that can do this for yourself. You must become the master of your own mind and your stress responses, or others will become the master of your mind. You’ll think you’re doing what you want to do, but you’ll really be doing what you’ve been previously programmed and conditioned to do.
Taking control of chronic stress responses allows you to create a state of well-being, which is a very powerful state of being that not only makes a difference for you, but also might help other individuals you're connected to.
I explained that not all stress is negative. In fact, stress is just stress. It’s how you interpret it and what you do about it that makes it positive or negative. If we experience no stress, we would never grow.
Finally, I discussed how we can use our cognitive abilities to detect and interpret stress responses, and then observe and diffuse them. We can use the power of our own breath and how we hold our body to further reduce stress responses and improve emotional well-being. However, the story doesn’t end there.
There’s another aspect of stress that we must consider. With my own journey of dealing with stress, I found myself dominated by a sense of uncertainty and fear and it was affecting my sense of well-being. I used the process that we’ve discussed thus far to take control of my mind and create a sense of well-being. However, I still had a business to run and a family to care for. My life still required an intensive effort on my part if I wanted to be successful with my goals. Previously, I was doing this with a sense of fear. Now, I was doing it with a sense of empowerment.
But I still did not provide my mind and body with appropriate periods of rest and recovery. I was a good sleeper. I ate nutritious foods and was physically active. I practiced forms of meditation and mindfulness and guarded my emotional state. I cultivated a strong sense of purpose and joy in my work. Nonetheless, I still worked too much.
At some point, we have to put boundaries around ourselves that prevent circumstances from overwhelming us. It doesn’t matter how good we get at the first steps. If we’re not creating appropriate boundaries and providing appropriate periods of rest and recovery, we’ll still get sick from stress.
I hope you will now take a deep look at why you’re experiencing chronic stress. You can be the master of your own mind and deal with your stress responses better—it just takes effort, time, and a willingness to try.