One of the toughest challenges of this journey we call life is dealing with those issues that are not within our control. This year has certainly been one of those years. Not only has the economic situation hit close to home, but recently hearing news of friends and family members fighting for their lives has certainly caused me to step back and re-examine where I am at this point in my life.
While we can’t control many of the events in our lives, we do hold the power in how we deal and react to these stressors. We have the choice to let the stress control us or we can learn ways of helping us control the stress.
The sense of helplessness is certainly at the top of many of our lists of stressors. But there are ways that can help us through these obstacles. Below are a few measures I have incorporated into my life to help make the transition a little less stressful. I hope they will help you as well.
Have a plan: Planning is crucial for me in order to get through these tough times. Making a list of things to do and accomplish each day gives me a sense of control. Checking these items off my list at the end of the day allows me to experience a sense of achievement.
Take time to breathe: Deep breathing has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and helps our bodies to relax. Just taking a few deep breaths can help calm our emotions and bring us back to center.
Allow yourself time to go through the emotions, but don’t allow these emotions to define you: Suppressing emotions will not and does not change the situation. Sooner or later we must come to terms with where we are. Being angry or sad doesn’t change our situation but allowing ourselves time to go through the emotions is what will eventually allow us to release them.
Use these events as an opportunity to learn: I believe every obstacle that is thrown in our path is the greatest opportunity to learn about who we are truly meant to be. When we are never faced with obstacles then how do we change the path which we are on? This is how we grow into the people we are meant to be.
Lean on others: So many of us, me included, shun help because we don't want others to view us as weak. But the older I get the more willing I am to allow my friends and family to hold my hand and walk this journey with me. Life is too short to have to walk it alone.
Enjoy the moment: For the past few months I have been setting aside a few minutes every morning to make a promise to myself that I will find one good thing to be thankful for each and every day. It doesn’t have to be grandiose—even the simple things in life such a friendly smile or a beautiful song can bring us great comfort.
These are just a few ways I am learning to deal with the stress in my life. One of my all-time favorite inspirational quotes reads:
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This quote embodies the true essence of not allowing stress in our lives to define us, but instead allows us to define who we are by surviving the challenges in our lives.
How do you deal with stress in your life? What measures do you find are most helpful?