Stress management entails more than coping with our fight-or-flight response. it includes creating stimulating stressors. This apparent incongruity is explained by the fact that stress underload (the psychologists’ term for boredom) is itself a negative stress that can lead to the same disorders as stress overload.
As we mature, our minds gain the capacity to process ever-increasing amounts of information. If no new challenges are provided, the brain may damage the body just to relieve the monotony, or combat its boredom by egging us on to neglect our jobs, overeat, take drugs or pick fights with our friends.
Stress-underload remedies are remarkably similar to those for controlling stress overload. Changing routes or modes of transportation provides a positive, challenging stress while diminishing commuting frustrations. Learning to care for the pet you acquired to help you relax is exciting. Joining an aerobics class, establishing exercise routines, perfecting progressive relaxation techniques – all help feed the brain’s demands for stimulation.
The ‘time out for yourself’ prescription offers unlimited, ongoing opportunities for adding zest to your life. You can take a class or teach a class, attend a concert, paint a picture, plant a garden, study a foreign language, write a book, join a club or start one. The activity needn’t be self-centered – organizing a rummage sale for your favorite charity, reading and writing letters for the visually impaired, or taking your kids to the zoo are other options. ‘Success’ lies in the fun and fascination of learning and doing, ‘change’ is the name of the game. You may enjoy experimenting with different experiences every few weeks, or you may discover latent talents that lead to a second career pr after-retirement income.
Life and its beautifully healthful potential are gifts from Mother Nature. By making the most of what we have been given, we not only improve our outward attractiveness, we also add zestfully happy, productive years to our lives.