Navigating in a Stress-Filled World

Rick Kraft

When is the last time you felt stress? I’ll bet there is something on your mind right now that is causing you to be anxious or to worry. How do you handle stress? More important, how are you going to handle it going forward?

Are you thriving in your daily life?  It’s hard to be on your best game when your stress meter is hitting in its upper range. You’re easily irritable, your attitude suffers and it takes less to make you snap. Stress causes anxiousness and often depression. It causes you to lose sleep.

Some stress can be healthy. It is called “eustress.” There are things you need to be accomplishing that will cause you to experience stress in your world. Good stress can cause a person to excel.

Nevertheless, when someone says, “I am stressed out,” it usually is a cry for help … or at least sympathy.  Unhealthy stress is called “distress.”

A high level of stress is the cause of a majority of ailments that cause people to end up in hospitals.

A 2017 Healthline article states that when your stress response keeps firing day after day, it could put you at serious risk.

It can result in headaches, heartburn, rapid breathing, risk of heart attack or stroke, pounding heart, increased depression, insomnia, weakened immune system, high blood sugar, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stomach aches, diarrhea, constipation, fertility problems, erectile dysfunction, low sex drive, missed periods and tense muscles. And that is only a partial list … I think you get the idea.

In addition, stress can result in overeating, alcohol or drug abuse and social withdrawal. I am not saying stress is the sole cause of any of these conditions, but it could be a contributing factor.

What causes stress, or, worse yet, chronic stress? In some instances there is no option but to encounter it. A family member is getting married or gets sick. A close friend is killed in a car accident or gets a DUI.  In many instances, you don’t raise your hand and ask to enter a stress zone … others do it for you.

Yet, in some instances, our stress is self-imposed.  We overeat or we fail to exercise.  We stay up late doing something less important than sleeping and then can’t perform the next day at work the way we need to.  We lie and then have to encounter the consequences.  We work at a job that makes us miserable.

There is a direct correlation between stress and quality of life. It is hard to enjoy life if you are always stressed out.

How is your quality of life? If your quality of life is the highest it can be, congratulations.  Don’t change a thing. If your stress significantly hinders your quality of life, you need to change something.  If you continue to take the same actions, you will get the same results and you will continue to be frustrated.

Maybe your stress is created because you are not pursuing your calling. Maybe you are trying to travel in the wrong lane. Maybe you are not operating within your gift set.

For you to be the best you can be, you need to be able to maintain a healthy level of stress. You will be better at what you do.

Many choose to become a victim by saying to others, “Look at me.” Others rise above by making their lives about others. Those who refuse to become victims live their lives adding value to the lives of others.  This election all starts in your head. Your choices drive everything.

Ways to overcome unhealthy stress include physical exercise, a spiritual relationship, optimism, healthy relationships, gratefulness, getting to sleep early and satisfaction at work. It is a matter of making good decisions repeatedly and keeping busy doing things. Does it make the stress go away? No, but it sure diverts your time and effort into something more constructive.

We need to grow from stress, to build resilience and to find ways to bounce back quickly after we get kicked in the rear.

You were not born with your stressed mindset. You learned it. If you learned it, you can unlearn it.

My challenge to you is to find a way to manage your stress. Be aware of your stress and address it intentionally. Doing so can add years onto your life. It can cause your quality of life to skyrocket.

Surround yourself with upbeat people. Find a mentor who can help change your focus and then listen.

Be proactive in conquering this problem. Don’t stand still and expect the world around you to change.

Develop a support group and a belonging to the life you are living.

Write a daily journal of good things in your life. Be accountable by emailing a friend three times a week with positives in your life. This looking for positive will drive your world.  Meditate.  Become more spiritual.  Understand that you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff … and virtually everything is just small stuff!

Just some stress-lowering thoughts …

Rick Kraft, a South Pasadena High School graduate, is a syndicated columnist, motivational speaker,  published author and attorney. To submit comments, contributions or ideas, e-mail: rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org.

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