alt=a woman closes her eyes and leans back to relieve stress.

Taking Steps to Combat Stress - Part Two

Life in the 21st century reminds me of my favorite episode on the old Ed Sullivan show.  The performer would place a plate on a tall pole and start it spinning. He continued until he had 8 poles with plates spinning at the same time. It was a feat of pure magic to keep each one spinning and not fall to the floor shattering in pieces. Sometimes it feels like all my plates are spinning out of control.

Finding the roots of my stress

I wrote in part one about stress causing me to break out with shingles. Having shingles made me assess my life to uncover the root(s) of my stress. I worried about how my high-stress levels were impacting my macular degeneration as well as my health in general. Being stressed takes my focus off those things I know are good for my vision and general health.

My research indicated that researchers know that high stress has been linked with age-related macular degeneration  (AMD). I concluded that I was not dealing with any one high-stress event but rather cumulative stress.  Less is known about the effect of long-term stress specifically on the progression of AMD.1

As I write, Oklahoma is in our third spike of Covid-19 cases with some fully vaccinated people developing it. Coupled with the social upheaval and political unrest going on in the US, it was little wonder I was feeling stress.

From dealing with panic disorder a few years back I knew steps to take to deal with stress. I just needed to put those steps into action.

My action plan

Step 1

Many find stress relief through meditation. I find similar relief through my faith as a Christian. I am reading scripture each morning, reading devotions, and spending time in prayer.  According to Mayo Clinic spirituality is no less effective than other tools to manage stress.2

Step 2

Box or square breathing is a technique I learned when battling panic disorder. My smartwatch reminds me periodically throughout the day to breathe. I use these breathing exercises anytime I feel stressed.3

Step 3

One trigger for me is over-dosing on the daily news. I am trying not to watch more news programs than necessary to keep up with national events. I also quit researching the latest Covid-19 statistics. I am fully vaccinated and take precautions in public to avoid exposure.

Step 4

Getting adequate sleep is important for me to manage stress. Being stressed causes sleep disturbance which in turn leads to more stress; an unhealthy cycle. I make an effort to limit calls after 9 PM and am careful to not watch high-action television close to bedtime.4

Step 5

Getting moderate daily exercise has to be a high priority for me to manage stress. Exercise of any kind relieves stress, increases endorphins, and distracts you from worry.5

What works for you?

Now that I have identified my stress triggers and know the steps I need to take, it's time to get my stress under control. What are you doing to handle the stress in your life? Please leave a comment and share what works for you.

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