Self Induced Stress

12.15.00 Bang Eka 0 Comments

Self Induced Stress- Some people are just so driven that they actually create their own stress.  Not only do they create stress for themselves, but for others around them.  You can often observe this in parents of young children who are so busy projecting their dreams onto their children that they create a tidal wave of stress throughout the house.  These people are so obsessed about being “the best” at everything that they lose sight of what life is about.  They rarely enjoy their lives and make sure that their children also do not enjoy the lives they have, either.  They can be found heading up PTA drives and in a dozen other activities.  People often look at them with envy because they seem to have it all and are so ambitious.  In reality, they have very little.  Ambition is good - driving everyone around you nuts to validate your life because of personal insecurity, is not.

Take the example of Shirley.  A corporate attorney for a large company, she expected no less than the best from all of her employees.  She couldn’t understand why anyone would settle for anything less than perfection and became known as “Shirley the Slave driver” throughout the office.  Shirley knew that this was the nickname that had been given her and didn’t care.  She was proud of being a “perfectionist.”  A perfectionist, by the way, is not a good thing to be.  Because it has the word “perfect” in it, many people proudly call themselves “perfectionists.”  It stems from gross insecurity.  A perfectionist will never be satisfied with anything and will rarely be happy.  Worse yet is the perfectionist who becomes a parent or a boss.

Shirley caused many of her employees to quit or ask for a transfer because of her incessant demands.  Many of her employees considered themselves to be “under stress.”   The more she demanded, the more stressed they became and it seemed to them that she was downright impossible to please.

In addition to being herself a major stress factor for her employees, Shirley was also a stress factor for her children and husband, of whom, of course, she expected “the best.”  Her children felt compelled to excel in everything they did in order to please their mother.  Her husband felt that Shirley was beyond being pleased and sought refuge in other women on occasion.

When the children were young, they were “exposed” to many different sports, each of which they were expected to excel.  Shirley was never really athletic, so she projected her wish to be athletic onto her children.  After work, she spent most of her time driving her children back and forth to various games and sporting events.  Her friends marveled at how much energy she seemed to have.

In private, Shirley worried about everything.  She had come from an impoverished household and wanted to make sure that her children wanted for nothing.  She wanted to be sure that they had every advantage to succeed in life that she never had.  She remembered growing up and feeling inferior because of her poor clothing and the fact that she had to take charity lunches at school.  Kids made fun of her old shoes.  Even though she was now a successful corporate attorney, inside was a little girl with holes in her shoes eating a government subsidized lunch.

Despite the fact that she seemed to “have it all,” Shirley was far from a happy person.  She felt like she was on a roller coaster all of the time, yet she didn’t know how to stop it.  Unfortunately, a heart attack was the result of her continued, self induced stress.

Fortunately, Shirley survived her heart attack, after which she began to look at life much differently.  It no longer seemed to be important if her children were in every sport known to man or if they got a “B” instead of an “A on a quiz.  When she finally returned to work, she began to realize that the place had been running well without her, despite the fact that she felt she was the only one who knew what she was doing.

The heart attack forced Shirley to relax and get grounded.  She began to realize what was important in life.  It also got her to understand that she was driving herself and everyone around her, into a state of stressful frenzy.  She was really fortunate to have discovered a whole new life.  Her husband also appreciated her new attitude and became more attentive.  Her children relaxed.  Her employees stopped calling her names behind her back and began to see her for the truly talented individual she was.

Many of us have only ourselves to blame for our stress.  It is self induced because we feel compelled to have to “do everything.”  Self induced stress is a product of modern times.  People today tend to judge success on how many material possessions they have and how well their children compete with others.  Many parents today involve their kids in some sort of organized sport in which the parent, instead of the child, is competing.  While organized sports are great for kids who express an interest in athletics, it is not right to force your child to participate in sports that he or she is not interested in joining.

The fact that most women work outside the home has also led to more stress in our daily lives.  Thirty years ago, many families had only one car.  A woman usually stayed home while the man worked.  A man got home from work, the family ate dinner and the kids went out and played until it was dark.  The kids came in, went to bed and the husband and wife had time alone.

Today, a man comes home from work and, if it is his turn to cook, heats up something or whips up a meal or picks something up from the nearest fast food restaurant.  A woman comes home from work to do the same.  The family wolfs down a few bites of their meal and it is off to one of the following:

    Soccer practice
    Cheerleading practice
    Baseball practice
    Dance lessons
    Karate lessons
    All of the above and more

It is no wonder that people are stressed out.  We never give ourselves, or our children, a chance to just relax!  When was the last time you went with your family on a picnic?  Do people even do this anymore or has it become “a waste of time?”

There is little that we can do about the fact that both spouses work or that women work outside of the home.  This is not a bad thing as it has given women an opportunity to be able to financially support their children.  Years ago, if a husband died or decided to take off, many women had little choice but to just find another husband.  And in some cases, the husband was not nice to his stepchildren.  Today, neither men nor women are forced to stay married to someone who is abusive because they are unable to support themselves and their children.

However, this new way of life is not without a price.  And the price is that most people end up eating poorly and feel “stressed out” because of their lifestyle.  When we add kids into the mix and our expectations for them, which are really based upon our expectations for ourselves, we end up with one heck of a stressed out life.

We can either live with self induced stress and continue on a merry go round of anxiety like Shirley, or we can slow down and eliminate some of the stressors from our lives.

Are you experiencing self induced stress?  How do you feel when you come home from work - are you happy to come home or do you feel that you are just coming home to a life of chaos?  Many people say that they are more relaxed at work than they are at home.  If you cannot relax at home, when can you relax?  Do you even know how to relax?  Some people actually feel guilty when the are “doing nothing.”

People today tend to expect way too much from themselves and very few people know how to relax.  As a result, they are raising children who also do not know how to relax.  What have we got to look forward to except a bunch of future stressed out adults?  The only ones who will benefit from this are the pharmaceutical companies who are busy cranking out better and better medications for stress.

Allowing self induced stress to control your life or even enter your life is like volunteering to be shot out of a cannon.  Other people will watch you appear to soar, but in reality, you will be in a lot of pain that could end up to prove fatal, even if it is just metaphorically.

Some signs of self induced stress are the following:

·         You do not have time to talk to friends on the phone because you are always “running around;”

Your children are involved in no less than two activities a week to which you provide transportation;

You look forward to the day when Taco Bell offers charge accounts;

Your kids do not know what mashed potatoes are unless they come in a KFC package;

You feel you can relax at work better than you can at home;

You feel guilty if you have nothing to do;

You eagerly count the days until (pick one) Soccer, Basketball, Baseball or Ballet season ends.

If you identified with one or more of the above situations, chances are that you are experiencing some signs of self induced stress.   Superman and Wonder Woman were fictional characters - stop trying to be a superhero to yourself and learn how to relax.

The Right Ways To Deal With Stress

There are many ways that you can deal with stress that do not involve using drugs or alcohol.  As a matter of fact, you are better off if you can avoid any type of prescription drug for your stress.  Stress can be managed by many different natural methods.

The first thing that you need to do is to find out the cause of your stress.  Once you have found the cause of your stress, you need to address this fact.  The cause may be something that you can eliminate, or it can be something with which you have to live.

In many cases, stress is the result of something happening with your job.  In such a case, you have to ask yourself if the job is worth your health and the health of your entire family.  Remember, when you suffer from stress, it often causes others to suffer from the same stress.  If you are employed at a place where you are actually stressed out all the time, is it really worth it to continue in this employ?  What sort of quality of life do you have if you hate what you have to do every single day?

Quality of life has significant value, or at least it should.  There comes a point in everyone’s life when they have to decide what is truly important.  Remember that no one ever, on their death bed, lamented that they didn’t work hard enough.   Many of us end up not seeing the truly important aspects of life until it is too late.

If you can eliminate the stressor, be it a personal relationship, a job, or even a certain situation, you will be all the happier for it in the long run.  If a job or a person is really giving you that much stress, to the point that you have to seek professional health - is it or they really worth it.

Are you involved in a toxic relationship that is causing you stress?  Get out of it now.  Hate your job to the point where you dread going into work on Monday morning?  Find another job that you won’t hate.  Even if you have to take a pay cut, it is well worth it to enjoy quality of life.

If the cause of your stress is something over which you have no control, you need to evaluate the problem, face it and seek help.  There are many different counseling methods that incorporate behavior techniques to address stress.  Medication can be useful in some situations, but tranquilizes should never be a long term “cure” for stress.
Natural cures for stress include behavior management techniques, proper diet and exercise, herbal remedies and yoga techniques.  These will actually work towards alleviating your stress.

Behavior Therapy
In some cognitive behavior therapy, a patient is monitored for signals of stress in their body by being hooked up to a machine.  This will determine stressors by the heart rate, which usually rises whenever stress is present.

The method used to train someone to behave in an appropriate manner is similar to how you might train a dog, except they don’t get whacked with a rolled up newspaper.  Instead, whenever the patient responds appropriately to a stressor, the machine lights up, indicating that this is the appropriate response.  The patient continues with this therapy until he or she realizes how to behave whenever they encounter stress.

Have you ever hear anyone say to “count from ten backwards?”  This is a popular method used to “calm people down” before they say or do something that they will regret.  Counting is also used to control stress.  Many of us, when we are trying to fall asleep, say we are counting sheep.  This is a method used to keep our mind off of our stress and concentrated on something else.  It is very difficult to worry about work while you are counting.  In fact, it is difficult to think about anything else when you are counting, which is why counting is such a popular therapy for relieving stress.

If you find yourself in a stressful situation, start counting to 100.  Every time you are reminded of the stress, start counting to 100.  Is your teenager driving you nuts?  Start counting to 100 whenever you start thinking about him or her.  This will help relieve some of the stress.

Massage Therapy
The demand for massage therapy has doubled in the past 10 years.  This is largely due to the fact that massage therapy is so effective at relieving stress.  Many people still think of massage therapists as prostitutes working out of sleazy massage parlors.  This is no longer the case.  Massage therapy is now big business as well as a licensed practice.

Massage is very useful helping with stress and particularly the symptoms of stress, which are tightened muscles, aches and pains.  Massage therapy can work wonders on the stressed out body and also work to relieve your mind.

There are several different types of massage therapy that are available to people who are undergoing stress.  They range from a traditional Thai massage to a soft tissue massage.  In addition to relieving stress, massage therapy is also used to treat aches and pains resulting from exercise or sports injuries as well as a number of other ailments.  A licensed massage therapist will be able to recommend the type of massage therapy for your particular situation.  It is not that costly and even if you go once a week to the massage therapist, it is far less expensive than seeing a doctor and getting a prescription filled.

Proper Diet and Exercise
Have you ever wondered why so many people are on medication for stress?  What is it that is so different about now than 30 years ago?

One of the major differences in our lives is the food in which we eat.  Most Americans do not eat a healthy diet and more than a fair share are overweight.  Many doctors believe that stress and the onslaught of people suffering from depression is due to a vitamin deficiency.  The stress that many of us suffer from today may be the result of simply not eating a healthy diet.

We all know that proper nutrition is essential for a healthy body, but what about a healthy mind?  We are hearing more about good nutrition for mental health as well as physical health.

Certain foods are natural mood enhancers.  These include:

·         Dairy products.  Dairy is usually high in protein and can improve a physical response to stress.  You can take dairy in milk or cheese and expect less physical problems due to stress as well as enjoying a lighter mood.

·         Fish.  Fish that is rich in fatty acids, such as salmon, is good for the body as well as the mind.  We all know that fish is considered “brain food,” but fish that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids is a natural way to treat depression.  There are studies that indicate that people who suffer from depression related to stress have low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in their body;

·         Strawberries.  These can keep your blood sugar levels stable, which can be another cause of stress.  Strawberries are a natural way to stabilize your mood and are a lot tastier than any SSRI medications;

·         Spinach.  Folic acid is essential to good health and spinach is high in this B vitamin.  Studies have also indicated that people who have low levels of folic acid are more prone to depression.  Folic acid increases serotonin naturally, which is exactly the way that medications to treat depression work on the brain;

·         Turkey.  Another food that boosts the serotonin.  Turkey contains Tryptophan, an amino acid that can actually make you calm.  Remember how sleepy you felt after eating Thanksgiving dinner last year?  That was from the Tryptophan, a natural tranquilizer.

·         Brazil Nuts.  These contain selenium, which is another mood enhancer, however, too much of this can prove toxic for your system so eat these nuts sparingly, but include them in your diet;

·         Complex carbohydrates.  These also contain tryptophan and, although we have been warned to “stay away from carbs” these past few years, we need complex carbs, not simple carbs.  If you are watching your diet, stay away from simple carbohydrates, such as cakes, cookies and sweets, but eat complex carbs, such as sweet potatoes, that are rich in tryptophan;

·         Clams, Oysters, Cottage Cheese - all are high in Vitamin B12.  Raw clams and oysters have been considered an aphrodisiac for a long time, but cottage cheese is also rich in this vitamin that has been known to enhance your mood and stave off stress.

If you are not getting enough of these foods in your daily diet, consider taking a multi vitamin or a supplement.  If you are suffering from stress, chances are that you may be deficient in vitamin B as well as Omega-3 acids. Eating a proper diet certainly will not hurt you and may actually end up relieving much of your stress.

Exercise is also crucial to relieving stress.  As a matter of fact, when you feel stress coming on, the best thing that you can do to stave it off is to exercise.  Doing something physical can sometimes really work out the problem that you are having.

Cardio exercises are the best way to work out stress.  These get your heart pumping and naturally raise the serotonin in your brain, putting you in a better mood.  Stress can be very draining on your physical being and exercise can right the wrong and get your body back into shape.  Exercise also boosts the body’s immune system, which also suffers under stress.

Get yourself into an exercise routine.  Work out in the morning or after work doing cardio vascular exercises that will give both your mind and body a boost, as well as help control stress.  In the evening, you can practice yoga or stretching exercises that can help tone your body as well as relax you.

Don’t want to exercise?  Do something physical.  Cleaning the kitchen floor will not only relieve your stress, but will also get the floor really clean.  Doing something physical such as cleaning, is one of the best stress relievers available.  It works better than any pill, costs nothing and, when you are finished, you will have a really clean house.

Herbal Remedies
There are natural, homeopathic remedies that are also used to treat stress, although the jury is still out on just how effective they really are.
One way to treat stress homoeopathically is through the use of St. John’s Wort.  This herb has been used to treat stress and anxiety for years.  There is an indication that it is very effective in treating mild anxiety and depression as well as stress.  It naturally releases serotonin and has both mood stabilizing and calming effects.  St. John’s Wort is available in most drug stores and health food stores.

Most doctors will never recommend that you even try St. John’s Wort.  Nor will they tell you to eat properly.  Today’s doctors seem to be consumed by the need to prescribe medicine.  The pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars making sure that everyone is prescribed an SSRI or a tranquilizer every time they have a problem with stress.

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are not the only ones to blame.  We are as well.  Have you ever wondered why Americans suffer from more stress than any other nation?   We probably don’t, but more of us are hooked on medication for this condition.  One of the reasons we agree to take the pills for stress is because we want ‘instant cure.”  yes, we are always in search of the quick remedy for any problem.

Nobody wants to take the time to exercise or actually come to terms with different stressors.  Nobody wants to hear that they have to eat right.  Yoga?  Meditation?  We don’t even give them a chance.  We want a cure for what ails us and don’t want to be inconvenienced with it any more than necessary.
This is not to say that anyone who is suffering from stress and depression should not seek medical attention or take medication when necessary.  In some cases, it is necessary to take prescription pills.  However, a prescription should be used as a last resort, not the first thing that we try whenever we feel stressed.
Throughout our lives, we are bound to encounter stress.  We have to learn how to deal with it effectively or we will be doomed to taking medication just to get through every day life.

If you are suffering from stress, try St. John’s Wort, a natural herbal remedy, before you embark on a series of SSRI medications or tranquilizers.

Aromatherapy is yet another natural treatment for stress and involves the use of essential oils.  Essential oils are derived from natural by-products such as tree bark, flowers, fruits or grasses.  They are very concentrated and can be used either with an infuser, in which case the healing powers are inhaled into the lungs, or on the body as a massage oil, in which case the healing powers of the oil is absorbed into the bloodstream by way of the skin.

Essential oils are very concentrated and should never be used directly on the skin.  Lavender is the one exception and is  pretty much a cure-all for just about whatever ails you.  Lavender oils are available at a variety of different places including online.  In order for the aromatherapy to actually work, you have to use pure essential oils and not anything that is chemically produced.

Essential oils are not meant to be taken orally, but have been used as a treatment for a variety of minor ailments for thousands of years.  Aromatherapy is particularly effective when combined with massage therapy.  Most massage therapists incorporate aromatherapy into their practice, although this is something that you can easily do on your own.  Simply get some lavender oil and an infuser and burn the oil so that you can inhale the scent.  Not only will it relax and calm you, but it will also make the whole house smell fragrant.

Yoga and Meditation
These are Eastern arts just like aromatherapy and, like aromatherapy, have been around for thousands of years.  People in the West tend to want to hurry everything along, which can be one reason why we are so much more stressed than people in the East.  Yoga involves a series of stretching exercises that are designed to allow you to concentrate on something other than yourself.  Meditation is the process of clearing your mind of negative thoughts and concentrating on nothing.  Both are equally effective at calming you down if you understand how to use these techniques towards alleviating stress.

Yoga and meditation work pretty much the same way as exercising, cleaning and counting do to relieve stress - they draw your attention away from the stressful situation and to something else.  This is the secret to controlling your stress  - to focus your attention on something that is either positive or neutral.  Once you have learned how to use these different techniques to alleviate stress, you can then work on controlling how you react to stress.

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