In a fast paced modern world, our lives are often full of stress. Children, school, work, activities, family, friends…each one of these singly has the opportunity to add to our daily stress levels. Taken in multiple doses of one or more, these stresses can lead to frustration, physical discomfort or sickness, and emotional strain. Even when sustaining a rigorous meditation or prayer routine, stress can build unless it is directly addressed.
Before continuing, it should be pointed out that the above things, while they can be stressful, are often sources of great joy and happiness. This is one of the dichotomies of life…that which we love has the power to affect us. This power, while usually neutral, can be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When it is, we experience stress.
Fortunately, along with meditation and relaxation techniques, there are also several other things that you can do to reduce the strain. Most if not all of this should be well thought out before a stress episode happens. With increases in frustration and irritability, trying to formulate a concrete stress reduction plan on the fly can lead to higher and higher levels of stress. It can be a cycle of stimulus and response.
Meditation and finding a quick stress relief is one of the first steps that should be tried. Being able to “first aid” the problem can significantly reduce later challenges. Breathing exercises, visualization exercises, and Progressive Muscle Relaxation are only a few tools that can be used.
Changing your way of life and outlook/attitude can both be long term solutions to stressful challenges. Exercise, better diet, and even just activity can create an outlet for excess energy, stressors, and provide a better feeling. This feeling can further be enhanced through having a more optimistic attitude and looking at both the world and the source of stress differently.
Finally, having a long term stress relief routine is helpful, even to those who rarely feel the strain. This is where walking, meditation, prayer, and other such activities play an important role. Having social support from friends and family is also a foundational part of this routine. Humans are communal animals and sitting alone through life can often lead to more stress challenges.
Understanding the stress challenges in life is important. Finding a way to address them is just as important. The roadmap to a reduced stress life will be unique for each person. Frameworks and maps can be offered but in the end, we are each unique beings on our own paths.