As I was taking a walk down memory lane the other day and remembering my teen years, I realized that many of us are acting like teenagers. Remember how we thought we were invincible back then? We did stupid things like drive too fast, drink too much and play with fire. We’re lucky to be alive with our cavalier attitude about mortality.
At some point, usually our late 20s to early 30s, we woke up and realized we weren’t invincible. People we knew died. We stopped doing the blatantly stupid stuff and start doing the “adult” stuff.
But the “adult” stuff turns out is just as dangerous as driving too fast. We work 60+ hours a week as if there are no consequences. We run around creating the perfect household. We try to be the perfect wife, perfect mom and perfect female role model. We get stretched thin with obligations, deadlines, soccer practice and trying to prove our worth.
With these efforts we are still blindly acting as if we’re invincible. The truth of the matter is stress is responsible for 70-95% of all doctor’s office visits. Stress contributes to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and autoimmune disease. We are not invincible. We burnout. We get sick.
Passion Burns Bright
As you can tell, I’m pretty passionate about this subject. That’s because I’ve been there, done that and gotten the t-shirt. I’ve worked too hard, stressed too much, burned out and got one of those nasty health conditions.
I’ve also recovered, re-energized, and learned how to fuel my life with passion and meaning, not deadlines, stress and obligations. And no, I didn’t quit my job to buy a winery or live in the Costa Rican rainforest. Instead I discovered a secret formula to de-stress, re-energize and live with meaning. I call it the Burnt Out To Balanced SystemTM. In honor of Stress Awareness Month, I want to share this formula with you.
Fuel Your Body
We have been taught that diet, exercise and sleep help us lose weight. But what we eat, whether we move or are sedentary and how much sleep we get is the foundation for living a stress “free”, energized life. Food, especially processed food, can leave us feeling anxious or even contribute to ADD. Regular exercise releases feel good, stress-relieving endorphins. Get 8-hours sleep and you can solve problems with a clearer mind, as well as boost your intelligence.
Fuel Your Body Stress-Relieving Tip: Nature has given a magic stress neutralizer that calms us, relieves muscle tension and allows us to sleep better. It’s called magnesium. Now before you run out to the drug store, check your crisper drawer. Green leafy and cruciferous vegetables – kale, broccoli, collard greens, spinach and swiss chard – are high in magnesium. Include these in your diet a few times a day and watch your stress levels drop.
Fuel Your Mind
When I ask audiences “what is stress”, I find the answers include deadlines, traffic, over commitment, not enough time, and even having to deal with “stupid” people. We believe stress is something that happens to us. In fact, stress is our response to all those things.
The stress response is a function of our autonomic nervous system’s flight-or-fight response. Specifically, it is triggered by a thought or belief that we are in danger and our body then goes into overdrive producing cortisol and adrenaline to get us out of danger. The danger of stress is the fact that in modern life we spend far more time engaging this stress response than we do in our relaxation response. This accelerates the aging process, suppresses our immune system and leaves us fatigued.
The key take away here is that stress begins in our mind with a thought or a belief. The key to neutralizing stress is to fuel our mind with more positive, happy, gratitude-filled thoughts and you will trigger your stress response less often.
Fuel Your Mind Stress-Relieving Tip: Meditation has been used for centuries to reduce stress. It works by triggering our relaxation response simply by getting us to stop and breath. But it also allows us to train our mind to let thoughts pass instead of obsessing over them and creating stress internally. Start a daily meditation practice. Sit quietly, focusing on your breath for 20 minutes a day. Please don’t get hung up on being perfect about this. You can start by meditating 5 times a day for 4 minutes.
Fuel Your Purpose
Just as important as fueling our body and mind, is fueling our purpose – our creativity, relationships, spirituality, and soulfulness. Fueling our purpose is the keystone for less stress and more happiness.
What is purpose and what does it have to do with stress? Purpose is your calling in the world, but it’s really broader than that. It’s everything from meaningful work to your relationships to your hobbies that brings you joy and meaning. Purpose is the expression of your spirit.
When we starve our purpose either by not engaging with our work, suppressing our creativity, or ignoring our relationships (including the one with ourselves), we trigger our stress response. When we are all work and obligations, we begin to get bitter, resentful, depressed and even angry. Fueling all facets of our life is the antidote and gives us even more for which we can be grateful.
Fuel Your Purpose Stress-relieving Tip: Remember how much fun you had as a kid doing crafts. You might have stopped because your last creation wasn’t perfect. Or you didn’t have the time. Carve out some time to be creative and tap into your inner kid. Creativity can be cooking dinner, handwriting a card to a friend or creating a vision board. Get out the scissor and glue stick and just play.
Already a subscriber? Log In
We are not invincible. We cannot eliminate or escape stress. Yet we can neutralize stress by fueling our lives with better actions, thoughts and beliefs. We all deserve to live a happy, contented life. How will you neutralize stress this week?
Laurie Erdman, JD, MS, CHHC is a sought after Get More Energy Expert, coach, speaker and writer who inspires, trains and mentors companies and individuals to extinguish burnout and unleash their energized potential and profitability. Creator of the Burnt Out To Balanced SystemTM, Laurie’s mission is helping high performing individuals recover from or avoid burnout so they can accelerate their careers and create their best life. Laurie brings her experience in the legal, business, coaching and health fields, as well as her personal experience with burn out, to help companies create sustainable growth through engaged employees. Visit www.LaurieErdman.com to download her new book: Burnout. Identify It. Extinguish It. Ignite Your Life.
Complimentary Webinar: You’re invited to an upcoming, InPower webinar for women – Communicating With Confidence to Build Credibility. It’s free! Register here.