So I’m taking a course in communicative sciences and disorders at MSU right now called ‘Mind-Body Communication’. Lately we’ve been focusing on stress management strategies. Here are some points of discussion and my personal insight.
What are some of your stress management strategies?
1. What causes you stress and why?
I am often stressed-out about the future. I am constantly confused about whether I should be making decisions for the short term or focusing on the long term. I want to live my life in an interesting and enjoyable manner but many times I find it hard to have a good time because I am worried about what might be in store. Sometimes I realize I have taken on too much responsibility between school and work and internships. I want to make sure I am not leading a dull life because when I am older I might not have the same opportunities as I have now.
2. What are your current ways in which you handle stress and how effective are they?
Currently I handle this stress by keeping good records and filing systems to make sure I am staying on track in all my endeavors and budgets. This seems like it would add stress but it makes me feel better to know that I’m not missing anything. I also try to handle stress by talking it out with people and spending time with friends.
3. If you continue to have unresolved stress in your life over the next 20 – 40 years, what influence do you think that will have on your body?
If I do not deal with stress I believe there will be many physical side effects. I currently view myself as a strong person with positive intentions. On certain days though, I feel like a complete failure and I just want to quit everything. Sometimes I will start to feel sick because my body is yearning for a break from physical activity as well as spiraling thoughts. If I don’t take more time to relax I will probably feel very tired all the time when I’m older and have a lot of wrinkles. I can tell that many people in my family have suffered due to stress throughout their lives. There have been many incidents in my family due to health issues such as heart attacks, arthritis, and alcoholism. I think I will be able to avoid these physical consequences of stress by making sure I have the time and energy to do everything I am attempting to accomplish.
4. Over a 2 weeks period try to laugh and/or engage in more physical contact with people (without getting thrown in jail). Record your perceptions on any differences of how you feel or think during such activities.
I could tell that people feel a bit uneasy, at first, when it comes to physical contact. I understand because that is how I feel when people touch me. In doing this more often though, I could tell that people like to feel the touch and/or embrace of another person. It is as though the two souls/energies of each person are also connecting with one another. Just the warmth from someone’s body heat makes me feel good. Hugs are the best because the two people are completely embracing each other in a somewhat spiritual communion. At the end of my meeting with my house mates this week we all participated in a group hug and when it was done everyone was looking at each other and genuinely smiling or at least looking satisfied.
I tried to laugh more but I usually just felt like I was trying too much to laugh. However, at times when I was laughing really hard without having to try, I observed how good (and somewhat tingly) it felt to smile and engage in laughter with other people.
5. Over the next several weeks incorporate 1 or more stress management strategies into your life. Try to make it a regular practice.
One of my favorite stress management strategies to use is taking a deep breath every now and then. I like to refer to this as “taking a step back”. When I am feeling tense I know it is important to get oxygen flowing throughout my body in order to not detriment the functionality of the systems within me. When I can “take a step back” I am able to relax all the thoughts racing in my head and to evaluate what my next steps should be.
I also practiced meditating. I have a tapestry of the Hindu goddess signifying love, light, grace, and good fortune, Lakshmi over my closet. I see this every day and it reminds me to concentrate on achieving success in ways that will benefit my own well being as well as the well being of others. It feels good to sit down and to not think about anything except just “being” a person and reevaluating what that means to me. In doing this I have realized that my personal goals can often change over small increments of time. It is important to verbalize personal aspirations to one’s self and then to others in order to achieve them.
6. Make a gratitude journal. What are you thankful for? Keep adding to it as you think of more items to include. Each day read over your list. Have you noticed any difference in your thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors as a result of doing this.
I am thankful for everything in my life – even the things that bring me pain and grief. In keeping a gratitude journal, I have thought over some of the aspects of my life that are seemingly loathsome and reevaluated them in a way that I can appreciate them as challenges to build my character. I believe it is very important for people to realize how lucky they are. For a long time I have realized that I am a very lucky person. My parents are still together, I am in excellent health, I have many close friends whom I can trust, and I am generally a happy person overall. I am glad I can realize these blessings and use them as motivation to bring more gratitude/happiness into other peoples’ lives.