Stress is a killer. We all live with it at varying levels, sometimes more, sometimes less. It’s a factor in our lives that we can’t escape. We can’t change the things that stress us, whether it’s bills that are due, health problems, family issues, car trouble, or difficult classes in school.
Stress isn’t something we cause, it’s an external element that hits us. We can’t control the stresses in our lives. We can only control our reaction to them. If we allow it, stress can lead to anxiety attacks, depression, heart conditions, and stroke. Stress is an attack from outside that disturbs our peace, breaks up the rhythm of normal activities, keeps us awake at night when we need to rest and rebuild. We each respond to stress differently. Psychologists describe this as “fight or flight.” Some of us want to fight whatever is attacking us and others want to flee from it (flight).
Some medicate themselves when stressed. They use alcohol or some chemical type of means to make them feel better or more relieved. Unfortunately, this is the least effective way to battle stress, because when the medication wears off, the stress is still there. All it does is delay the inevitable.
There are some natural means that help alleviate stress reactions, like deep breathing, increasing your intake of water, and exercise, that are much more productive at making you feel better and clearing your mind to decide how to resolve the stresses that are attacking you. Some find it helpful to talk to someone about the stress and mentally work through how to handle it. Others are more reserved and talking about it only makes the feelings more intense, so that approach doesn’t help them. You have to find what works for you.
Some stresses, like financial issues, can be worked out or worked through: spend less, pay more on bills, get a second job, credit counseling, even bankruptcy. Other stresses like health problems have to be worked through more slowly. Eventually we must face the stress and respond to it and resolve it to make it go away.
The most important thing is to find a way to keep it all in perspective, and not let it totally take over your life and rob you of all joy and peace. You may be tempted to feel like this stress is going to last forever, but the one thing you can count on is change. Everything changes in time. But that doesn’t mean the stress is going to get better. An ailment ignored can lead to hospitalization and death. A debt ignored can land you in a courtroom, and sometimes in jail. So ignoring a stress isn’t usually the best option. You have to find a way to get ready to face the stress and take action.
But know that you are not alone. You are not the only person to have this kind of stress. No matter what hits you, someone else has faced the same thing. Knowing that someone else has dealt with this set of circumstances and has moved on to find life happy and whole and good in time is its own encouragement. There’s no shame in having stress, but there can be great pain if you choose to ignore it and not deal with whatever is stressing you.
I’m not talking rhetorically here, I’m talking from experience. Financial stress?? Oh yeah, I’ve been there. Emotional pain? I lost my only brother to suicide. I haven’t been addicted to drugs or alcohol, but have plenty of loved ones who have. I know life is hard! But no matter how hard it gets, know this: your circumstances WILL change. You are not alone, there are people who will care and listen and help. Don’t be afraid to reach out. We’re all in this crazy planet together, and helping each other should be what we do best.