Learn to live better and to optimize your energies, without surrendering to nervousness or agitation
Stress? We begin to know it as babies, though resisting it is not impossible. Certainly, the difficulties of everyday life are many and you cannot eliminate them, but we can learn to confront them without giving way to a spiral of frenzy, and, indeed, stress.
The word stress, strictly speaking, simply means the way in which we adapt to external stimuli. Naturally, to adapt to a situation, it is necessary to put some strategies into action and these can be more or less successful. For example, if you are very cold, you can cover yourself or turn up the heating. When a negative stimulus persists, despite all our attempts to resist it, it ends up feeling overwhelming: at this point that state of discomfort that we all know well arises and, if protracted over time, becomes that which scientists call distress, or pathological stress.
To live well it is not necessary to eliminate every source of stress, as, among other things, this is almost impossible, but it is sufficient to put into action a series of strategies able to protect us and to confront difficult situations with the right tools. Here are some counter-measures to put into practice in everyday life.
Give up trying to do everything – Multitasking is a myth and by now this is recognized by science: make a list of your priorities, focusing on the most important, really indispensable things and leave the rest aside. Learn to live without continually running: get into the habit of making a list of things that you should do (in your opinion), then dismiss at least two and include in the list something enjoyable or a moment just for you. Learn to delegate: and if things are not as perfect as if you had done them yourself, notice that the world keeps on turning.
Choose your friends with care – Give priority to meeting with positive people who know how to confront life with a smile on their faces, and escape those who always see the darker side and seek to dismantle your enthusiasm.
Learn to breathe – It seems like nonsense, but your well-being can really depend on this simple action. Learn to breathe using the diaphragm, that is the low part of the thorax. If you cannot manage it, lie down on your bed and relax as if you are going to sleep: you will note that, as every breath starts, your belly rises and your shoulders stay still. This is correct breathing: learn to sustain it throughout the day. In moments of stress, for example in a traffic jam or in a busy city street, puff to expel all the air, then inhale deeply, as if about to yawn. Feel your belly swell and observe your surroundings as if you were outside your body: this is the first stage of meditation.
Indulge in a little sport or a dynamic hobby – Go to the gym or pool, or at least take an evening walk. Stretch your body and move as much as you can. Dedicate yourself to gardening or to another anti-stress hobby, or book a massage or a spa day. All this will help you to create a physical and mental space in which to forget everything and recover energy.
Choose anti-stress food and drinks – Discover the calming power of herbal/fruit tea and herbal medicines. If you prefer, you can also take them in supplement form. As well as chamomile and valerian, try hawthorn, passionflower and griffonia that, as well as regulating sleep, help to combat attacks of emotional eating, typical of stressful moments. Eat healthily, prioritizing fruit and vegetables, and limiting alcohol and smoking as much as possible.
Prevent stress – Ask yourself which situations you consider most stressful and seek to eliminate at least some of them. Faced with an uncomfortable situation, you are not forced to suffer, but can find a solution. If you find yourself trapped in traffic that makes you crazy, leave the car at home and take the bus, at least for some of the way, or join up with a colleague you like, sharing a means of transport: the journey will seem shorter.
Learn to express what you feel – Give yourself the space to free your emotions: it is unhelpful and counter-productive to repress everything, like a pressure-cooker. Although a certain dose of self-control and diplomacy when communicating our thoughts is indispensable, expressing our opinions is vital for our health. It is enough to do so with a little tact and without hurting others.
Learn to say NO – It is unhelpful always to tolerate everything at any cost. Do not blame yourself if you cannot satisfy everyone. (And read back over the first point of this article).