Life is truly a blessing in itself. Think about it for a minute: through circumstances that you had no control over, you are reading this right now. You were blessed with a life in this world. Now, life can be very hard, also. Poverty, relationship problems (or lack of a meaningful relationship), ill health, and other things can weigh someone down. Stress is almost like a rolling snowball: it starts small, but the longer it rolls, the bigger it gets. And the worst thing is, stress can be a major cause of mental and physical problems. Here are 4 steps to help you empower yourself while minimizing (notice how I didn’t say eliminate) stress:
1. Focus, focus, focus
When unfocused, the mind tends to wander into many different directions. If you are subconsciously worried about something, it doesn’t take much to be entirely focused on it. Think of the mind as a room, and think of bad thoughts as cockroaches: As long as the light (positive thinking) is on, the cockroaches are hidden away in the darkness. When the light dims or goes out, the cockroaches are swarming around. By staying focused on positive things, it will make things easier for you. If you are looking for a better job or career, for example, use mental visualization techniques such as picturing yourself in a better job, then apply that confidence into your job search. The saying “idle hands are the devil’s playground” can be applied to the mind, as well. When left unfocused, negativity can set in far too easily.
2. Expect as much of yourself as you expect from other people
Now think of yourself as a newly-built house. You may have done some exercise, or gotten some plastic surgery, or maybe you were just lucky and were born handsome or beautiful. But if that beautiful house isn’t built on a strong foundation of empathy and self-awareness, the entire thing can come crashing down. You may get angry with your significant other over certain things that he/she does, but don’t we all make mistakes? In the age of the internet, it is far too easy to be demeaning and point out other’s faults, while totally dismissing our own. The mirror is a powerful thing…stand in front of one and ask yourself what you see. Is that person someone who you’d like to meet? Is that someone approachable? Is that person understanding? Be honest with yourself, and you will receive the same level of understanding from others.
3. You are in the driver’s seat
Certain things in life we have no control over, like disease and ailments. There are also things we have complete control over, such as our decision-making. But most things fall into a grey area of complication. For instance, you may be stuck in a terrible relationship, but you can’t just pack up and leave, whether there are kids involved, financial reasons, or if you are secretly hoping the person will “change” and become a better person. It is up to you to take as much of the grey area as possible, and bring it into your control. Why let that car drift off the road and careen off the path of positivity? Bring it back by taking charge of the things that you can, and also some of the things that you think you can’t.
4. Exercise: the best antidepressant there is
When engaging in reasonable physical activity, the brain releases endorphins that contribute to our sense of happiness and self-satisfaction. How well do these endorphins work? Most of the antidepressants sold and marketed around the world are based on these endorphins. Of course, pills have their own side effects, and may not even fully work properly, if at all. But exercising as much as possible will condition your mind as well as your body. It is also a great stress reliever.
Of course, stress can never be completely eliminated. It is completely normal to feel stressed out, and occasionally sad or “down”. But if these feelings become too prevalent, it can get worse progressively and quickly. Having a positive mental attitude, or actively trying to have one, is one of the most powerful things that someone can have. Your mind is the most influential thing about yourself, so do everything in your powerful to positively influence it.