Life: The Ultimate Stress Test

Life comes with stress, some necessary and some not. Life is the ultimate stress test. So what can you do about it?

We want to help you develop a game plan for dealing with life’s tensions. In other words, ways to pass the ultimate stress test – your life.

Ordinarily, a stress test means finding out your heart’s health by going on a treadmill or other monitoring programs. For banks, a stress test determines how well they can withstand an economic crisis.

How to Handle Stress

An indicator of our trying times is the growing number of people taking anti-depressants. The New York Times reported, “Some 15.5 million Americans have been taking the medications for at least five years. The rate has almost doubled since 2010, and more than tripled since 2000.”

Anti-depressants have helped some, but  their use has been called into question as being no more effective than a placebo (sugar pill). Also most drugs come with undesirable side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

Before we suggest other ways to deal with stress, let’s get more specific on exactly what we are talking about. To clarify, we can divide life’s challenge into small, daily pressures and big, occasional shocks to our system.

Little Stressors

Small disruptions are a part of life. Dealing with life’s stressors is important, or chronic stress develops. Ongoing stress can undermine our bodymind, which hurts the quality of our life and possibly even our life span.

Here are two helpful strategies:

1. Develop healthy routines.

Lifestyle medicine includes enough sleep, good diet, regular movement, social activities and play time. Once your body is conditioned and you have some social support, you can withstand life’s unpredictability. You can even welcome the challenge at times feeling that you can come out on top.. 

2. Focus on what you want.

If you are continually putting out fires, you may feel like you are never getting back to even. It feels that you are barely getting started, much less accomplishing something.

To help focus, be sure to get your dreams and goals prominent in your mind. Then you know how to stay on track to where you want to go, even if you get lost or set back at times. You also know multitasking weakens you. Doing one thing well energizes you.

Big stressors

Sometimes overwhelming events happen to us: a loss of a job or income, a death of a loved one, an injury or disease, being victim of a crime or natural disaster.

In spite of such seismic stressors, many people come out stronger. It’s called post-traumatic growth. It is defined as “a positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event” by Richard G. Tedeschi and Larence G. Calhoun, the researchers who coined the term.

In addition to the two strategies described above, we want to add three more ways to deal with stress.

3. Reframe your situation.

First, acknowledge the problem; then find ways to look at it differently. There may be unexpected opportunities there. It’s certainly a time to muster courage and inner strength.

At age 67, Thomas Edison’s entire lab, containing much of his life’s work, was destroyed by fire. His response was, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”

4. Go one step at a time.

You can literally only take one physical step at a time. But the mind gets lost in threat mode and fight-flight or freeze. Instead, breathe, relax and just consider your next step.

5. Good can come out of this.

Be open to being surprised and delighted. You must be willing to let things happen. Be alert to possibilities. Accept what is, And and know good is coming and is possible.

Affirmations to Manage Stress

Here are some stress-coping, transformational affirmations. You might be surprised how helpful they can be if you use them regularly:

I rise to this challenge.
I find ways to recover and grow.
I learn from my mistakes and failures.
New possibilities are becoming available.

Final Thoughts

Whatever is getting us down ─big or small ─ with resilience, we can monitor our stress and make the most of it. If it’s an unavoidable stressor like a natural disaster or loss of a loved one, we can find ways to cope: accepting the changes, getting the right attitude and learning. If it’s a more manageable stressor, like overscheduling or associating with negative people, we can change our behavior and make different choices. Those who deal positively with stress are shown to be stronger and even live longer.

If you view your life as the ultimate stress test, you can figure out a game plan − and pass with flying colors. You can manage stress. You can create positive mindsets and healthy routines. 

This means that you can face challenges and come out wiser, if not stronger.

What limits you, can also free you. The past is a piece of your life. Use it; don’t be used up by it.

What limits you, can also free you.
The past is a piece of your life.
Use it; don’t be used up by it.  

Let everything that happens to you be a resource for growth and transcendence. 

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Phillip and Jane Mountrose

Holistic coaches and energy-healing pioneers, Phillip and Jane Mountrose help people live life to the fullest, connecting more deeply with their heart and soul.