Categories
Deal With Stress

Do You Keep Monsters in Your Closet?

Young Man with His Hand on His ForeheadDo you have fears that keep you paralyzed with stress and anxiety? There are certainly enough things in modern life for us to be genuinely afraid of, and a little fear is not always a bad thing. It keeps us from going down dark alleys at night, or into grizzly bear dens.

What is it about being human that causes us to create even more to be afraid of than is actually there? What takes us from being cautious and alert to danger, to frozen like a deer in the headlights over some disaster that may never happen? I wish I knew.

While the world may still be a dangerous place sometimes, our imagined fears can cause us more stress than any true dangers. The adrenaline triggered by real dangers tells us to grab the kids and head for the tornado shelter, find a life jacket, or slam on the brakes.

When we get an adrenaline rush from stress and imagined dangers, we have nowhere to run to, no defensive action we can take. But you can deal with the stress of imaginary dangers by heading it off before it starts.

Acknowledge your brain’s infinite ability to be wrong. Our brains seem to be hardwired to create pictures or patterns where nothing really exists. It is why we see faces in clouds, or why as children we may have stared half the night at some scary shadow that turned out to be nothing in the morning.

On the up side, this ability has lead to everything from fairy tales to science fiction. On the down side, it makes us worry that every headache could be a brain tumor; every economic setback is one step away from living on the street.

By remembering that there really were no monsters in the closet, we can train ourselves to see the illusions we create for what they really are, and we can relax. No need to deal with stress from something that isn’t there.

Use your fears to spur you into action. If you just can’t seem to turn away from some of your worries, turn them into an action plan. If you are worried you’ll outlive your money, find a way to save more. If you are tend to worry about every new health crisis that comes up in the news, take preventative steps to eat right, exercise, and live a healthy lifestyle.

Just as importantly, know that you take these steps not out of fear, but because you are strong and proactive. Applaud yourself for planning ahead. You can’t protect yourself or your family from everything, but you can give yourself credit for doing what you can.

Focus on the good things in your life, and be grateful. None of us knows what tomorrow holds. Uncertainty is a basic part of existence. But if you remember every day to relish each moment you have, rather than waste it being stressed about the future, you will be stronger and more ready to face whatever the future really does hold. Monsters and all.

 

 

Categories
Beat Depression

Never, Ever Give Up: 3 Messages from Marathon Swimmer Diana Nyad

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailWhile most of us were firing up the barbeques or lazing around by the pool this Labor Day weekend, 64-year old Diana Nyad was in the water, but she wasn’t there for recreation. She was on a mission to fulfill her lifelong dream of swimming the 103-mile passage from Cuba to Florida. Ms. Nyad had tried and failed four times before. After her second attempt in 2011, she almost gave up, referring to her dream as just a fairy tale. When she finally emerged from the water victoriously this past weekend, she had changed her tune. “I have three messages,” she said. “One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you are never too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team.”

These are not just words for fellow swimmers to swim by; these are words for us all to live by, especially those of us who are on the journey of personal growth, whether it’s to beat depression or simply learn how to deal with stress effectively. Take a minute to really ponder Nyad’s messages with me.

Never, Ever Give Up

When life gets hard or when you wake up one day in a circumstance you’d never imagined yourself in, it’s easy to feel like giving up. Maybe you tell yourself you’ll never be happy or you’ll never make a difference in this life. Maybe you resign yourself to just go through the motions of putting one foot in front of the other and give up on your passions and dreams. Although this may seem like an easy out, it’s actually the worst thing you can do for yourself and your mood. Diana Nyad decided to return to swimming at the age of 60 after being out of the water for three decades. In a Ted talk in 2012, she told the audience why she returned—to feel the thrill of passion and commitment to a goal. When you find yourself stuck in rut, trying desperately to beat depression back, remember Diana’s words, “Never, ever give up.”

You Are Never Too Old to Chase Your Dreams

As we get older, we sometimes find ourselves looking back on the past as “the good old days.” Even at 30, it can be easy to feel like you’re past your prime. Maybe when you look back, you see only failures and missed opportunities. No wonder you feel so down! You can pick yourself up though; beat depression by getting back in the game. The game itself doesn’t matter; what matters is that you feel alive again!

It Looks Like a Solitary Sport, But It Takes a Team

Like swimming, life itself may feel like a solitary sport sometimes. You may think you’re the only one still struggling with the question of how to deal with stress. Through the dark lens of depression, everyone else’s life can seem so much rosier than our own. Don’t let this distorted view keep you from reaching out to others. As the Dalai Lama says, “We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.”

Stress and depression can make you feel as if life is just too much. If this is the sickness, though, passion is the antidote. Find something you’re passionate about (it doesn’t have to be swimming with sharks!), make a commitment, and then never give up!