The bestseller book about stress, stress-related diseases and coping, Why Zebras don’t get ulcers by Robert M. Spolsky, is as valid today as it was when published some years ago. The point is, in a very simplified interpretation by me, that Zebras cope with stressful situations, take action and then wind down and don’t think more about it. At least from what we know at this point about Zebras.
Our physiological stress reactions are the same as Zebras, with the difference that we can process and think about threats, and make keep the stressful situations for days, months and years just by thinking of them and not dealing with them. Just let it continue to stress us without taking proper action to get rid of the stressful triggers.
But we also have a choice to deal with them, and to find tools that are useful for us in stressful situations to handle and eliminate the threatful situation. Some tools we have and use are good and productive but some, such as using alcohol, is less good in the long run.
I’m sure you already know ways to wind down and to handle stressful situations. One important tool that we too seldom use is time to be and reflect. To take a step back and let it be. To sleep on it, as I was taught to do. And many times it works out really well.
One of the other tools I use is to go to the gym, leave the phone at home and just focus on working out and breathing. Long walks are another favorite, or even doing dishes or to vacuum does it sometimes. Many times it helps me out to do something physical, and that probably because my day-to-day work and life are quite sedentary and by moving, doing something physical I have to let go of thinking and to refocus on something else. You also get the blood pumping through your body and get oxygenized, which helps to clear out your mind and body, and relaxes you. If you have trouble sleeping, one way to handle it is to focus on your breathing taking as deep breaths as you can, and after a short time you’ll find yourself relaxing since it’s impossible to breathe deep and have a tense body.
So, what are your tools to relax and get back into balance and get rid of the stress?
Do you need to extend your toolbox with stress-handling alternatives? Books and suggestions are many, but only you know what suits you the best. Try, re-try, and find your own, healthy way to handle stress. And during life, you’ll have to develop and find new ways depending on the situation. Just be sure to focus and find tools that help and are constructive for you, and that doesn’t harm you in any way. The worst harm though is to do nothing about what stresses you and let it go on for years. But I know you’ll find good ways for you to handle stress if you chose to! Just go for it!
Enjoy less stressful days to come,