20 years

Managing Stress, Panama solution.

Michael Boase

By Michael Boase

Michael Boase is British, but has chosen to live and retire in Panama. He is a well known motivational speaker and we will be featuring several of his articles on life skills in the following months. Simply moving to the palm treed Shangri-La of Panama will not cure all of our stress problems, as Michael points out.

Stress as we all should realize, is a physical response to an undesirable situation. Mild stress can result from missing the bus to standing in a long line at the store or getting a parking ticket. But stress can also be severe.

Did you know the most stressful human pastimes are moving house, retiring, moving to a new country?

Stress is a reaction to an existing condition or an immediate threat ~ either real or perceived. Stress involves situations such as relationship problems, workplace pressures, financial or health worries. When you are unable to cope with the circumstances, a physical stress response occurs to meet the energy demands of the situation. First, the stress hormone adrenaline is released. Then your heart starts to beat faster, your breathing becomes shallow and quickens and your blood pressure rises. Your liver increases its output of blood sugar, and blood flow is diverted to your brain and large muscles. After the threat or anger passes, your body starts to relax again. You may be able to handle an occasional stressful event, but when it happens repeatedly, as with chronic stress, the effects multiply and compound over time.

The response to stress is highly individual. It’s like a boxer who has repetitive trauma in a boxing match. One hit and he’ll survive. But add up the week after week of hits and he’ll be hurting. He may not be able to handle it anymore. You are too stressed when the five telltale signs appear;

  1. Feeing irritable much of the time
  2. Troubles sleeping ~ too sleepy all of the time or you can’t sleep at all.
  3. Not much joy in life ~ focus and attention spans are small
  4. Loss of appetite or can’t stop eating
  5. Relationship problems ~ can no longer get along with friends, family members or work colleagues.

Too much stress in our lives may appear in the form of illness, infertility or fatigue.

Stress can damage your overall health. Your immune system is affected whereby stress suppresses your immune system, making you more susceptible to viral infections, such as influenza, and bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis. Your cardiovascular system suffers causing a more rapid heartbeat and may bring on chest pain (angina) and irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia). Stress may even lead to a heart attack or stroke. If you already have some existing health concerns, such as asthma or gastrointestinal problems, stress can make your symptoms very much worse. Lastly, chronic stress can cause acute stress.

Stress is a spiral merry-go-round where one can lead to another and everything is downhill and negative.

If you want to alleviate [or avoid as much as possible] stresses in your life, try some of these suggestions.

  • Go easy on yourself. Simplify your life.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, controlling your breathing, clearing your mind, relaxing your muscles.
  • Focus on one thing at a time.
  • Attend focussed and targeted Art Workshops for stress relief and emotional awareness
  • Keep stress journals ~ track what triggers emotions and emotional responses and learn to prioritise.
  • Do what is most important to YOU first. Start regarding yourself as ‘the most important person in the world’.
  • Look for the positives in life.
  • Use humor to reduce or relieve your tension.
  • Exercise. It relieves tension and provides a timeout from stressful situations.
  • Go to bed earlier. More sleep makes you stronger and better able to handle day-to-day responsibilities.
  • Eat a good breakfast and lunch. Keep energy levels high throughout your workday.
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine consumption. Caffeine is a stimulant. Drink water and hydrate your body.
  • Take time off to rejuvenate yourself ~ even if it’s just one day, midweek or a long weekend.
  • Set aside personal time and avoid negative people.
  • Do volunteer work or start a hobby or take an Art Workshop class.
  • Stop for several mini-breaks during your workday.
  • Revitalise your mind and body
  • Get a massage to relieve tension.
  • Indulge in a long hot bath with music and soft lights.
  • Enjoy yourself. Read a good book or see an uplifting movie. Write meaningful letters with a positive mind.
  • Hug your family and friends.
  • Call a friend and strengthen or establish a support network.
  • Consider the value of pets ~ their love is unconditional.

Stress-induced conditions can be managed and treated. Be mindful. Be aware. Have a wonderful stress free [as much as is humanly possible] life.