Stress: The Not-So-Silent Killer

Last week I encouraged you to take time for yourself when you need to.  That may even mean taking a day off work when things just become too much.  If you’re one of the fortunate ones who have a certain number of sick days allotted to you, I encourage you to use some of them when you’re not feeling 100% mentally.  If not, then I encourage you to do what it takes to find at least a few hours of respite for yourself wherever you can.

Simply put, it benefits both you and your employer to do so.  I don’t know about you, but I become ineffective when I take on too much mentally.  Sometimes I just need a day off, or time away.  Luckily for me I haven’t had to take any time off of my day job to recharge, but I have had to set aside certain activities outside of work when things have become too much.  Doing that requires solid boundary-setting skills, and the ability to not be attached to what other people think of my decision to not participate in certain activities they’d like to see me involved in.

Take, for example, a family function I was supposed to attend with my wife a few weeks ago.  I just knew deep down that to do so would be too much, and would put me over the edge.  I had to tell her, and her family, that I just couldn’t do it.  I’ve learned that “No” is a sentence, and I don’t have to explain myself if I’m not comfortable doing so, or if I think doing that would be an invasion of my privacy or boundaries.  Sometimes people don’t like it, but I care enough about myself today to not worry too much about what they expect of me any longer.

Stress can kill you.  At the very least, it raises your cortisol levels, which erodes muscle mass and causes you to store fat.  At its worst, it can cause severe neuroses through perpetual anxiety and strain, or even heart attacks and strokes.  It also causes us to turn to “comfort foods,” which contributes to the risk of physical ailments such as metabolic syndrome (increased risk of heart attack, stroke and/or type II diabetes).

Life is too short to always be about the business of pleasing others.  Please, for your sake, take time for yourself when you need it.  Take a mental health break.  It might require just a few minutes, perhaps a day, maybe even a week.  Whatever you do, take it when you need it.

I’d also encourage you to look in to something such as Tai Chi, Chi Gong or Hot Yoga. Disciplines such as these help us to get in to our bodies and out of our minds, and can be a wonderful rest from the strain of constantly thinking about what I need to do next. Give it a try! You’ve got nothing to lose except for the stress!