Stress worsens life's problems

"Many people today are suffering from stress overload rather than living with a clear understanding of their own choice and potential," said Anne L. Horton at a session for women at the governor's conference on families.

However, to successfully deal with stress means to change a lifestyle in such a way that "you will be grateful for the opportunities rather than overwhelmed by the problems that you encounter," she said.One of the first ways to reduce stress is to realize that "filmstrip families" where everything is perfect do not exist. Rather, "Most of us have lives and families that are Scotch-taped together.

"These times are not just hard on you individually, but are hard on women generally," she emphasized.

Homemakers and children now lead the ranks of the overstressed. Women of all ages face incredible social and economic pressures. High blood pressure and heart disease are the No. 1 killer of women, she reported.

"Stress causes, contributes to, and also exacerbates all social, physical and personal problems."

Sister Horton presented a typical stressful schedule "modeled after the road-runner cartoon:

"You jump out of bed - beep beep - throw in a load of laundry so it can wash while you exercise and shower - beep beep - nine minutes for make-up and hair - beep beep - seven minutes for Slimfast, getting dressed and popping in the toast, making a list of things to get done today - beep beep - comb Mandy's hair, correct Cory's homework. . . .

"By the time we finish our morning routine, many woman, particularly working mothers, are exhausted, and we have just begun. Beep beep.

"Who wants to be a road runner? In pursuit of excellence, we close out everything else, including closeness, rest and leisure. We have given our all and what do we have to show for it?"

She offered the following comments on stress and things related to stress:

Many people who suffer from stress are over-achievers. "At times we resent or may feel burdened by demands, but do we really mean it? Many women like living on the edge. Many will burn out, but most buy the lifestyle. Those who do need to accept at this point that it is a lifestyle. It is a choice and we constantly feed it."

" Workaholism' is the addiction of choice of those who feel unworthy. It is inter-generational.Workaholics' have learned to give work precedence over themselves, their families and their values. If every day is overloaded, you have created a lifestyle. You have not worked for peace and serenity in your home and in your life."

Avoid manipulation. "Manipulation is done from a powerless position. It is not an honest position. Learn to communicate instead of manipulate. Communicate honestly and directly. Know what you want and ask for it. State your feelings directly, and expect to be heard and respected."

If you don't believe in yourself, neither will anyone else.

Learn to accept criticism. "The minute we cry, we stop communication, we stop listening. Crying means we don't have to change. It is better to learn our own boundaries by empowering ourselves to do things we haven't done before."

Depression is self-contained anger against our selves.

Despite the stresses of life, she said, "I have a real feeling of abundance in my life, and a real opportunity to do many things."

She concluded: "When I lie on my death bed, I am sure I will not wish I had spent more time working on another article or washing walls. I will wish I had more serenity and faith in my life."


Collection of stress-controlling ideas

Strive to be congruent. Your mind, body and spirit need to be in tune with one another to allow you to integrate yourself peacefully.

Select an environment in line with your own personal needs and desires. To preserve ourselves, we need time and space and privacy.

Create order out of chaos. Organize your home and work area so that you will always know where things are. You'll avoid the stress of losing them.

Do something to improve your appearance. Looking better can help you feel better. And certainly on poor days, never look as bad as you feel!

Aim for self management, not for quick change. Pursue both short-term and long-term remedies to reduce stress. Serious changing takes time and you need to pace yourself.

Accept the fact that you are, indeed, in control and you can and must do something, or you will be a slave to the stress that enters your life, just as surely as you can be addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Eliminate self-destructive talk. Examples of this are "I'm too old" or I'm too fat. . . ."

Don't forget to take a lunch break. We need good nutrition.

Schedule a realistic day. Avoid the tendency to schedule back-to-back appointments or tasks. We select to overextend ourselves, especially if this happens again and again. For those who are seriously involved in lives that are "maxed" out all the time, I suggest there may be some [emotional] need that busyness fills or covers up. Chronically doing too much is a form of addiction and needs to be taken care of.

Separate your past from your present. Don't re-create old scenarios over and over again. Address and take control of the present.

Accept yourself as a package deal. Perfectionism is often one of the characteristics of addiction. But in reality, being perfect always implies internal balance. Balance and stress are totally incompatible.

Break the habit of living a life laced with guilt. The words "I must" or "I should," can be motivators of choice as lethal and harmful when excessive as any other self-destructive behavior.

Learn to say no. Say no without feeling guilt, without justifying or defending yourself. Say no graciously, not tentatively. Learn to give explanations, not excuses.

Give yourself freedom to change your mind. Don't persecute yourself every time you change your mind about something or someone.

Become your own permission giver. You don't need permission from others to take care of yourself and reduce your own stress level. Rest by taking a nap or bath or whatever - you're entitled to it. Relax by reading a book, watching television, writing a poem, listening to music, etc. Don't contaminate this relaxation with chores. Set realistic limits and under-whelm, under-schedule, under-demand yourself.

Become your own best friend. Protect yourself as you would a loved one from things that trigger your stress symptoms. - Anne L. Horton, associate professor at BYU School of Social Work

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