Stress is a killer. Ask any medical professional and they will tell you that stress can take years off your life. Not only that but stress can seriously impact your judgment and decision making abilities. None of these are particularly healthy things to have around.
The hidden secret is that we all carry around stress without even knowing it. Every time you think about something and file it away in that corner of your brain marked ‘Later’ it adds subconscious stress which affects you mentally and physically. Your subconscious brain doesn’t know HOW to mark it for ‘later’ and will literally sit and obsess about it without you even knowing about it.
But Rudy, what does this have to do with preparedness?
I think it’s safe to say that by nature those who live a prepared lifestyle are more aware than your average Joe about what could possibly happen in life. We plan and think and tend to worry about things a lot. We run through scenarios in our mind and war-game possible situations. I’m willing to bet that most of you out there never stop thinking about it, and never completely relax.
We go over our lists and check them twice. We are far more aware of our surroundings and the happenings in the world around us. We move forward and make progress towards improving our preparation levels. But if you’re like me, you tend to notice more things that you HAVEN’T done and overlook the many things you’ve already accomplished. By focusing on the things that you still need to do, the food you need to put up, the classes you need to take, the skills you need to obtain, etc you are really adding stress to your life. Is that something you want to keep doing?
The effects of stress can be significant. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure leading to heart attacks or stroke, panic disorders, loss of memory … the list goes on. None of this is particularly conducive to a healthy life style. You must act TODAY to reduce the stress in your life.
Great, I get it. What do I do about it?
I thought you’d never ask! There’s a ton of material out there on resolving stress. Half of it is snake oil. Most of it is contradictory. That said, there are a few common ways to resolve stress.
You’ve heard it everywhere. Exercise reduces stress! It’s pretty clear that as you increase your physical exertion, whether it’s exercise or physical labor, you ‘burn off stress’. Most of the time you recognize this as the physical symptoms of stress leave your body. Your muscles relax, you feel happier and more energetic thanks to the endorphins released by your exercise.
What you also need to realize is that as exercise increases the blood flow to your brain, it helps bring oxygen to the brain which helps you have mental clarity and improves your ability to think intensely. This allows your subconscious to work more on the things that are on your mind and work towards resolution.
Sleep is a critical part of your health. Yet most of us don’t get enough. If we are overly fatigued our immune system is depressed, we have trouble learning and recalling information, and our stress load increases. Your subconscious mind uses sleep as a way to process what’s going on and if it can’t do that then your mental stress load will just keep going up. All of this is made worse if you suffer from stress induced insomnia. You must get enough sleep every night.
And ignore the eight hours a night advice. Everyone is different, you need to figure out for yourself how much sleep you need. The basic rule of thumb is that if you don’t feel tired the next day that’s probably enough. You should generally wake up reasonably alert and rested. For most adults that amount falls into the 5 – 10 hour time range. How’s that for a broad range?
Rudy’s Trivia: Studies show that over half of American adults are sleep deprived with over thirty percent of American Adults being ‘dangerously sleep deprived’ … which is just as bad as being drunk. Scary thought!
3. Write It Down
This is my favorite method and something I believe is effective. There are a ton of different systems for writing things down to reduce stress. The key is that you have to write it down in such a way that you know you will actually deal with it at some point. This is why lists are so effective for us. We know we can just go down the list and we’re covered. We don’t have to REMEMBER all of this stuff so it can safely be forgotten out of our subconscious mind.
Schedule a time once a week or so to go over the things you’ve written down. You should have a system for scheduling things that are time sensitive and tracking non time sensitive tasks. Plan out your week in advance, decide what you’re going to do, and do it. Let the paper, your calendar, and your tracking system do the remembering for you.
What you’ll find after adopting a system like that is that your stress will begin to melt away. You’ll be more effective and you will be able to think more clearly and address problems better. You can focus on tasks better and your productivity will skyrocket. It worked for me!
So get a system set up. Write down your lists. Track your food storage, both what you have and what you need. Plan it out on paper and execute your plan.
Figure out what you need to do in order to move out to that rural retreat you’ve been dreaming about. Plan it out on paper and execute your plan.
Put together a game plan for getting out of debt and achieving financial self sufficiency and execute on it.
Don’t neglect exercise and sleep. Work through things you can work through, especially relationship stresses which are a huge stress point for many people. You get the idea, I hope. I know dealing with stress sounds only tangentially related to preparedness but I believe firmly that you will find your ability to plan and prepare has significantly improved by killing the unnecessary stress. Do it before it kills you instead!