Listed as “Step 5” on web pages that offer “10 Ways to Improve this in your Life” is usually the advice to manage your stress.
It is said so matter-of-factly, as if it’s something to cross off your list of self-care strategies every night before bed time.
In fact, managing your stress is a herculean task that can’t just be handled by focusing on the moment and taking some deep breaths. It is a 5+ year project that requires you to be patient and be aware.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that once you tackle that, the other areas of your life improve dramatically too.
But back to these advice columns. Most of the issues that people are looking to solve have as their root cause, anxiety and stress.
Let’s look at trouble sleeping as an example. The column might list out 10 tips to a better night’s sleep which would include:
– No screen time an hour before bed.
– No caffeine or drinks with alcohol, sugar etc.
– Keep the lights dim around bedtime.
– Keep the room cool
– Manage your stress
– Wear ear plugs
– Put on some soft music
… you get the idea. All of those suggestions are helpful, but not equal. In other words if you do everything BUT manage your stress your sleep quality will improve slightly. If you managed your stress and did nothing else on that list you’d sleep like a baby. In fact, you could probably do the opposite of everything else on that list and still sleep well.
That is how much bigger and how much more important anxiety is to your general health than almost anything else.
So how do you go about managing your stress (which is really anxiety)?
Make a solid commitment giving yourself time for some daily work that includes:
– Regular journalling
– Regular, weekly group therapy
– Educating yourself on psychology through books, podcasts, articles etc.
– Therapy sessions
– Talking regularly and honestly with your parents, family, friends etc.
It does seem like a lot but doing a bit each day is the best way to approach it. And like I said earlier, focus on this and everything else in your life; health, money, fitness, friends, job etc. all fall into place.
It’s not just worth it to put in the effort, it’s the ONLY thing to do right now.
“Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.”
― Jane Wagner
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