A man named Caldwell did a study on stress and concluded that about 92 percent of the things that we are anxious about never even come to pass! This goes to show that we spend an awful lot of time worrying needlessly. Why, then, do we do this to ourselves and where does it end?
In the Bible, Jesus challenged his disciples by asking them, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27). As a matter of fact, it can take days away from your life in many different ways. Unmanaged stress manifests itself in emotional and physical problems that can very realistically become fatal.
It is estimated that about 85 percent of all health problems are stress-induced. This may sound ridiculous, but it makes perfect sense. Elevated stress levels can cause high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
People who tend to overeat under stress often become obese, making themselves vulnerable to a plethora of health problems, including the two mentioned above, diabetes, back troubles, joint problems, depression and many others. Gorging on unhealthy junk food also causes malnourishment, which carries a host of its own ailments.
I could go on and on. The point is that stress can creep into your body and become just about any illness you can imagine. If you have a problem managing your stress, you owe it to yourself to nip it right now.
Remember the following acronym and you have a powerful tool to help you defeat stress whenever it begins to rear its ugly head. Although you probably won't use all seven of these suggestions, the acronym itself can help you put things into perspective.
Hobbies are comforting. Everyone should have one. What is yours? Spend a few hours a week tending to your rose garden, caring for a pet or creating watercolor masterpieces. When you find something that you really enjoy doing, it serves as a catharsis and you can always look forward to that little escape from the real world.
Exercise regularly. It helps your body to release endorphins, hormones that act as natural sedatives, and greatly improves your ability to handle stressful situations. It also makes you more energetic throughout the day, giving you the stamina to get through the tough times when you normally would cave in from fatigue.
Appreciate your life. It would be shameful of you not to. No matter what you're anxious about, there are children dying of cancer, homeless people starving to death and senseless suffering all over the world. Quickly scold yourself for being so petty, thank God for making you who you are and get on with it.
Laugh and smile. It's hard to give this advice to someone who's ready to scream, but a good, toothy grin takes the edge off anything that may be irritating you. Laughter is even better. Even if you can't find a single thing to chuckle about, pretend it's hilarious and let yourself laugh. This relieves stress almost instantly. Who cares if people think you're a nut?!
Take a deep breath. People who are under a lot of pressure tend to revert to shallow breathing, and this causes their bodies to tense up even further. Pay attention to your breathing, and when you need a fix, inhale deeply. Instantly, your entire body slows down, and it becomes easier to focus on the task at hand.
Hear yourself put the current problem into words. Are you negative? Do you say things like, "I don't know what to do" or "Where do I begin?" These are negative phrases that don't solve any problems. When you verbally express the problem and some positive solutions, you can actually give yourself the emotional support you need. If you've already made a fool of yourself by laughing out loud, go into a room by yourself and listen to yourself talk the stress away.
Yoga relaxes you. Meditation and relaxation improve your concentration and your confidence. As you become more flexible, your increased mobility makes you feel livelier and more graceful.
We need a certain amount of stress to be happy. People who have absolutely nothing to worry about end up creating problems for themselves. I'm sure someone you know just came to mind. The princess friend of yours who married a doctor, doesn't have to work, clean, cook or deal with anything you have to deal with. She has just as much anxiety as you do, although her worries seem ridiculous to you.
It's human nature, and a little bit of stress keeps your priorities in line, as long as you know how to handle it. Learning to get the better of any overabundance of stress is a skill that can literally save your life. It's one of the most important things you can do for yourself, and it's really not difficult to train yourself at. At the first twinge of anxiety, just remember that the odds are with you - nine tenths of the time, you're worrying over nothing!