In the 21st Century, it is predicted that stress and stress related illnesses such as depression and anxiety will become the biggest killers. Despite significant advances in housing, standards of living, quality of food, and medical science, the pressures all of us have to face in today’s world are as demanding as any pressures experienced by our predecessors.
Why are these illnesses on the rise? And why do some people become so ill through these illnesses, they can find it hard to function?
Well they sure don’t happen overnight! You don’t suddenly wake up one morning and feel stressed or depressed. It’s not like flicking on a light switch! And by the same rule, if you’re suffering, you can’t just wake up one morning, flick off the switch and say “Great, I’m better now.”
Many people who don’t suffer from these illnesses often say to sufferers:
“Come on, snap out of it.”
If only it was so easy! Should anyone say this to you, please forgive them as it’s just a lack of understanding. It’s very hard for people to understand how you’re feeling if they haven’t been there.
The fact that these illnesses don’t suddenly happen means we can draw some parallels with illnesses such as heart diseases, some cancers and strokes.
Because these illnesses don’t just suddenly happen either.
If we look at heart disease, it’s often the result of damaging behaviors practiced over many years. Behaviors such as smoking, lack of exercise and a diet high in saturated fat. Strokes are a result of similar behaviors and cancers too, particularly heavy smoking and drinking as you know.
So how do stressful illnesses such as stress, depression and anxiety compare?
Stress is also the product of harmful mental habits and behaviors. These habits and behaviors are developed and practiced over years – since childhood in most cases. These are the mental processes that enable us to make sense of our lives and the circumstances we’re faced with. When we reach adulthood, we perform them automatically because we’ve learned these behaviors by repetition.
Think of it like learning to drive a car. Initially, the skills required to control the vehicle needed conscious thought. It seemed really difficult didn’t it? But once we’ve performed them for sufficient periods, we drive on auto-pilot. We’ve mastered the required skills by repetition.
Here’s the key: if we eat healthy food, take regular exercise, cut out harmful behaviors such as smoking and drinking, we improve our health and drastically reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and strokes. We are repeating good habits, habits that will give our physical well being a huge boost.
It’s exactly the same for stress. What’s important to understand is that not everyone becomes stressed or depressed – even when tragic and traumatic circumstances happen to them. Just like people who lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid harmful habits and behaviors, people don’t become stressed or depressed because they have learned effective habits and behaviors that prevent stress from arising.
This is very good news if you suffer from these illnesses. Because just as we can learn habits and behaviors which cause us to become highly-stressed, depressed or anxious, we can learn the habits and behaviors which stop these terrible illnesses in their tracks. And the more often we make use of them, we’ll soon begin to perform them automatically and our mental health will benefit enormously.
Here are my 10 ways to manage stress:
- Relax your muscles
- Deep breathing.
- Eat well
- Slow down
- Take a break
- Make time for your hobbies and things that interest you
- Talk about your problems openly with someone you trust
- Go easy on yourself
- Identify your triggers and face them
No more feeling stressed out. No more feeling unable to cope. No more anxiety and no more depression.
You can do it!