Got Stress??

“Stress:  The confusion created when one’s mind overrides the body’s basic desire to choke the living daylights out of some jerk who desperately deserves it.”

“Stress is when you wake up screaming and you realize you haven’t fallen asleep yet.”

“Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.”

Um, I might be under just a teensie bit of the dreaded ‘S’ words these days.  Just a smidge.  Spring break can’t get here fast enough.  They’re going to need to meet me at the plane with that umbrella drink in hand on Saturday, and then maybe…just maybe…no one will get hurt :). You wanna know how I can tell I’m stressed?  When I tried on my vacation clothes (including–shudder–swimsuits) I didn’t bother to retch at my reflection.  That’s not only stress.  That’s intestinal fortitude.

I need a vacation.

Usually a killer deadline is responsible for this kind of stress but my book has been done for three weeks.  This year, I will not still be typing on the plane and editing my first two days of vacation.  Maybe that’s the problem.  Usually I’m too busy writing to think about the approaching trip.  That just makes the time pass more slowly.

A little bit of stress is supposed to be good for us.  It keeps the mind sharp.  But according to MedicineNet.Inc too much can do all sorts of damage.  It can affect the brain and nerves, muscles and joints, heart, stomach, pancreas, intestines and reproductive system.  That’s pretty much all there is! Too much stress puts us at higher risk for alcohol, nicotine and drug use.  It causes us to make poor exercise and nutritional choices.  Those without proper nutrition,inadequate sleep, in poor health or without strong social networks are at highest risk for having more stress in their lives.

Teens, working parents and seniors are especially vulnerable to stressors because of life transitions. Knowing the dangers of stress, it would seem a good idea to have a ready supply of ways to de-stress.  Basically back in cave man days they had to rely on fight or flight when confronted with stress.  Luckily we have more tools in our arsenal these days because neither of these two responses would be much help when confronted with an intellectually impaired boss who is in charge of our future :).

A few ways to manage stress are:

1)  Laughter.  Laughter releases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain.

2)  Exercise.  Apparently it also releases an ‘ahhh’ type chemical, or in my case a particular type of virtuousness that can be duplicated only by attending Sunday mass.

3)  Meditation  (someone needs to teach me to do this so my mind doesn’t wander!)

4) Create predictability in your work and home life as much as possible.  It’s nice to be reminded of the things we can control because the things that stress us out are usually those things OUT of our control.  I’m a list maker myself.  And when I get really stressed I prioritize the lists and label them for what’s to be done which day.  Using different colors for each item isn’t necessary but I happen to find it calming :).

5)  Bubble baths.  Never under estimate the therapeutic effect of a hot bath.  And if it happens to be a whirlpool tub with a drink holder nearby…heaven!

6)  Vacations.  My personal favorite.  Just leaving it all behind for a few days can be incredibly healing.  There’s nothing like beach and surf to forget about what’s bothering you.

What causes you the most stress in your life?  Do you prefer stay-cations or vacations to relax?  Any tips for relieving stress?

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9 Responses to Got Stress??

  1. Betina says:

    Kylie, I love that stressed is sort of “dessert” spelled backward! I’m holding on to that one! And my favorite things when stressed are walking– hard– letting the exerise drain away some of the tension, then taking a nap. If my mind is racing too much to sleep, then it’s time for some tea or warm milk or a bit of comfort food. Hey, that’s why they call it COMFORT food, right?

    • kylie brant says:

      Ooh, Betina, naps are my favorite thing! But I find if I’m too stressed I can’t sleep either. I’m with you on the exercise. And I also find that if I plan things to look forward to…vacations, a night out with friends, spending time with family…my stress is much easier to control.

  2. michele says:

    Hmm, I’m pretty laid back. I figure if you don’t use the word stress, don’t put it out there, then you can’t claim it. So it’s not a word I use.
    But if I’m harried or feeling rushed I’ve discovered the greatest chocolate chai tea (with hints of strawberry and chile). Num. And veg out on the couch a bit and watch a great episode of Weeds or Dr. Oz.
    It’s all good.
    Think happy thoughts!

  3. kylie brant says:

    When I am trying to relax enough to sleep my go-to relaxation technique is dreaming of beach and the sound of the surf. I even have some CDs of water sounds…waves crashing against rocks. It’s my idea of heaven!

  4. Helen Brenna says:

    It’s been a long winter, Kylie, so I hear you. I get the most stressed when my kids are stressed. It’s a mom thing. What seems to help me the most is working out. I have to have adequate amounts of sleep, too, or I turn into a basket case.

    Have fun on vacation! No spring break for me this year. I’ll be doing our taxes! Ick.

  5. Thanks for 1-5, Kylie. I can use those. I wish I could have myself a little getaway, but it’s not in the cards. Killer deadline, Loft class starting up next week, taxes, family on edge over heavy duty winter and jobs and school and relationships and barometric pressure, but no sandy beach break in sight. So I can really use 1-5. Plus more walking. And where did Michele find that tea?

    • kylie brant says:

      Kathleen the vacations are nice by they aren’t exactly something that can be used whenever stress hits us! I like to walk too but not on the treadmill 😦 That isn’t near as relaxing as using the bike path. But from the size of my hind end this winter, I need to stop being so picky 🙂

  6. kylie brant says:

    Helen, I get hyped up when our kids our under stress too. For example, my second son will be dispatched to move from MO to IA to help start up a new branch of his law firm. He was told two weeks ago (they wanted this move) so they immediately got their house listed. It was listed last Wed. and sold Saturday!!!! The owner wanted to move in on the 27th of April. My d-i-l is due May 3 and my son has to be in IA by May 1. They don’t have a place to move into yet…looking at homes this weekend. Now that’s stress!!

  7. Moshe Sharon says:

    The word “Stress” actually relates to wear and tear as when the rubber meets the road on a tire or the brake pads pressing up against the rotor in the wheel. The term as it applies to living organisms was first introduced by Hans Seyle in the 1930’s who defined it as the consequence of the failure of an organism (human or animal) to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats, whether actual or imagined. Thus stress symptoms are the manifestation of a chronic state of responses to stress triggers that are actually benign. Even a thought can set off the same response mechanism that would be in play while standing in front of a hungry lion. Hence, Seyle’s definition still reaches to the heart of stress management; the idea of the response being inappropriate and engaging in a process of altering ones misperception of pending disaster or imminent danger.

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