Health and fitness isn’t just about the body. Stay with me here. Mind, body and spirit are all linked together. Your body can be in ultra-marathon shape, but if you don’t believe you can do it, or you only think you can run a mile and you’re gonna crap out…guess what’s going to happen. Each of the three – mind, body and spirit – can affect the other…in a real, visceral way. So why am I getting all philosophical on you?

Stress is one of the WORST things you can do to your mind. If you are constantly over-stressed it can and very well may have a physical effect on your body. On this Motivational Monday morning, I want to have a little chat about stress, and why it is that Rule #1 of your day should be “DON’T FREAK OUT!”

I’ve thought about a lot of different ways to approach this topic. I suppose I kind of have to be careful because some people tend to get very worked up about things that, when you come right down to it, really aren’t worth the agitation. I’m sure you all know someone like that – the people who take everything way too seriously…who tweak and get bent about the most trivial things. Many of us (hopefully most of us) understand what things just aren’t worth the stress and worry…but what about the things that DO matter? What about the bills, the lack of time in the day, the myriad obligations we have and are responsible for, the mile-long to-do list…it’s all just so much. Sometimes some of the problems we face seem so insurmountable and the pressure put on us by others is so intense that we don’t know what to do with it.

I’ve pulled the definition from Merriam-Webster below:

Stress: a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.
further defined as:
 a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation

Mental tension. Worry. When these are amplified and made to be extreme…all it will do is impair your ability to solve issues. Notice in the definition above that stress is defined as a physical (body), chemical (mind), or emotional (spirit) factor.  Stress really does affect you mind, body and spirit…the dictionary even says so! No matter which one of the three stress-factors you are experiencing…it will carry over to the other two areas. If you are physically strained your mind will believe you can’t do it. If your mind believes you can’t do it your spirit can be broken. If your spirit is broken, your body won’t respond to its full potential. It’s a cycle that can be hard to break out of.

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I was having a conversation with a like-minded co-worker the other day about this topic, and we agreed on something – stress isn’t worth it. Getting stressed out about all the bills you have to pay and your lack of funds to pay them with doesn’t magically make your paycheck bigger. Getting stressed about how you don’t have enough time to accomplish everything you need to doesn’t make the clock stop. Stress does not solve problems…it can’t! Some tension and worry can encourage you to give attention to a problem or to come up with a solution…but excessive worry and tension only serves to cloud you, clutter you, and put you in a kind of mind-lock where you can’t focus well enough to clearly think and come up with a solution.

Not only does stress not magically solve your problems, it actually creates more. You may become more irritable, you may have a hard time losing weight or even GAIN weight (or lose weight depending on your body). Your hair and nails may become more brittle and prone to breakage and your hair may shed more (ladies…sound familiar?). Stress can make you feel constantly overwhelmed – and if that’s the case, eventually all this stress can build up and you might blow up on someone. At that point, it might not matter what’s been stressing you for so long…it becomes about that last straw that broke the camel’s back – all of a sudden someone who did just enough to send you over the edge is catching an earful (or worse!).

I thought that quote was pretty relevant in such a situation. “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it” – Sydney J. Harris

The best advice I can give you is – Don’t Freak Out! Relax, take a breath, and calm down. Once you do that, you can start to come up with constructive ways to resolve whatever issue you are facing. Sydney J. Harris (an American journalist) had it right! The BEST time to relax is when you feel like you don’t have time for it. When you are bogged down by stress, scatterbrained, and ready to pop…you definitely don’t feel like you have time for ANYTHING. That is when you need to stop, breath, and re-focus. If someone tries to tell you that you don’t care because you aren’t stressed…brush it off. You don’t have to be stressed in order to care about something. I would argue that calming down, breathing and relaxing shows you care MORE – you’re putting yourself in a position where you can actually be productive and use your noggin, right?

The mind is a powerful thing – if you focus your energy in a positive way you can overcome any obstacle, issue, trial or tribulation. You  can find a way to pay those bills. You can budget your time, dismiss the unimportant tasks, and get everything accomplished. You can lose 100+ pounds and take back your health, do that pushup not on your knees, climb that mountain, run that marathon…there is nothing you can’t accomplish!

Just remember to take time, relax, breath, and DONT FREAK OUT.