While most of us think about stress as being bad, it depends. A lack of stress can result in zero motivation, leading to "rust-out"! The other extreme is stress that leads to "burn-out."
Long term stress releases an inflammatory biomarker called interleukin (IL)-6. Studies indicate that constant stress shortens our life, takes away the joy of living, leads to anxiety and depression, heart disease, reduced immune function and digestive issues, plus it reduces our options and ability to be creative, destroys marriages, families, ability to work well and more. Lowering excessive stress such as through mindfulness can reverse these effects and increase one's ability to take charge of one's life and to think more clearly. (See this study for the effects of mindfulness.)
Stress is like a signal to us, letting us know that changes are necessary. Those changes may be external (setting boundaries with a disrespectful spouse or boss, for example). The needed changes may be internal (getting more sleep, being more gentle with oneself, forgiving oneself, etc.)
Others can often see our stress better than can we. Talking with someone who is good at drawing us out so that we can create options is often the most helpful, long-term, way to lower unwanted stress.
Below is some wisdom circulating through e-mail channels. It's author is unknown. Enjoy!
A great lesson on Stress
A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'...
She fooled them all .... "How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquired with a smile.
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. To 20 oz.
She replied , "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it.
If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.
If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.
If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.
In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."
"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced.
So , as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.
Don't carry them through the evening and into the night... Pick them up tomorrow.
Too much stress injures our hearts and others cells, shortening our lives, destroying relationships, jobs, creativity and joy, and ruins enjoyment of one's life.
Three important things to reduce stress:
1. Get enough exercise and sleep!
2. Use the stress to motivate you to make needed changes (don't wait to determine the "perfect" change, a good-enough one will lower your stress; just do it!)
3. Forgive yourself and others.
4. Seriously consider taking up mindfulness and/or an active prayer routine
Since health = wealth, it is wise to invest in ways of reducing stress. Diet can help our hearts recover and be strong, and even improve our moods over-all! If you wish to reduce your stress at home, work, school and inside of yourself, do contact us.
Getting help is a lot less expensive than letting stress ruin your life.
For high quality relationships and a life truly worth living.
Don't put it off any longer.
Link to Ian's profile on the B.C. Association of Clinical Counsellors website