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Many women in today's world live very stressful lives. Women live their lives day in and day out being addicted and controlled by stress. Most women are not even aware that their lives are being controlled by stress. A lot of women are addicted to the stress in their life and do not even realize it. Women must stop and take regain control of their lives. Regaining control of your life will enable to reclaim joy and spontaneity if life. Women must stop and look at their inner self. Your inner self has been lost in the stress hustle and bustle somehow. Reintroduce yourself to the best person in the world which is you. Get to know who you really are again. We must understand the impact that too much stress has on our lives. Stress is an addiction and we can beat it. We must first admit that we have an addiction to be able to break free from it. We must understand what stress addiction really is and how to get rid of it. Debbie Mandel's Addicted to Stress book will do just that. We will discover how just seven easy steps can break us free from stress and reclaim spontaneity and joy in our lives.
Addicted to Stress
What is stress? Stress is your body's way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength (Mountain State ). Stress can be good and bad in our lives. How we handle the stressful situation and the stressor is up to us. The attitude we have toward the stressor is what is most important. We go thru our lives sometimes not even realizing the amount of stress that we have to deal with. Women sometimes just deal with the stress that they face in their daily walks of life because it is not only a habit but it is an addiction. Most women are just use to the stress in their lives. We as women even expect it and some women are even uncomfortable if they do not have it. Debbie Mandel shows us how there are women who are addicted to stress. Stress can manifest in three compartments of our lives home, work, and our relationships. Stress can be present in and affect all of these areas of our life without us even being conscious of it. We must also be able recognize if we have the behavioral characteristics of a stress addict. According to Debbie Mandel the following are only a few behavioral characteristics that stress addicted women may display.
You do not delegate chores or allow others to contribute. It is your way or no way.
You are impatient and easily angered.
You feel anxious and pressured about the clubs for which you have volunteered.
Sex is one more thing on the to-do list (maybe).
You do not sleep well.
You hover over your children as a helicopter mom.
You experience sugar lust or crave fatty comfort foods
You bring your work home and take your Black Berry on vacation.
You brag to your boss on how little sleep you got last night.
You horde your work and are not really a team player. You do not want your colleagues to steal your thunder.
You worry about your family during work.
You eat lunch at your desk.
You expect your spouse and friends to read your mind.
You have trouble receiving a gift.
You are sensitive to criticism
You view all of your relationships as accomplishments.
One might ask if being a stress addict a bad thing. According to Debbie Mandel, no being a stress addict is not a bad problem to have. Being aware of the problem is the key to breaking free from stress addiction. The Addicted to Stress book by Debbie Mandel is more of a manual for women to use on how to reclaim their lives that has become a victim of stress. The manual shows women how to use a seven step process to reclaim the joy and spontaneity in their lives.
The first step in Debbie Mandel's book Addicted to Stress is stopping and taking a hard look at ourselves. We as women must be aware of our own stress addiction. Women must not only become aware of their stress but in a non judgmental way which should lead us to determine what is wrong, not who is wrong (Mandel, 2008). Women in today's world have many more responsibilities. We have to deal with the stress that occurs from our families for example, football practice, dance practice, home work and even school projects. We also have the household stress like cleaning, ironing, and laundry, not to mention that we have a husband who also wants part of our time. Today's women have a world of careers that are very demanding. There are many different shifts that women work. Some women work 8 hours a day and others work 12 hours a day. Regardless of the hours every career comes with extra responsibilities. Debbie Mandel suggests that women are being blown about in so many different directions that we are battered into exhaustion (Mandel, 2008). Women have a tendency to misinterpret the exhaustion for progress in their daily to do list and activities. Most of us women feel like if we are unable to complete the things that are we are expected to do that we do not measure up to the normal standards of being a mother or a wife. Mandel suggest that we as women should stop and ask ourselves 2 very important questions. Are we satisfied? Are we happier this way? Being unhappy with your self can be contagious to the people in your life that you are closest to. If you display the feeling of unhappiness it affects your family and also makes them unhappy. I must also ask myself if I am satisfied with my life. Do I want more? Do I feel like I need to do less? The impact stress has on our physical health has been medically proven to be negative. Women who have increased stress in their lives also have more chances of developing increased medical problems as they age. Chronic stress is a risk factor that contributes to the development of some diseases such as cardiovascular disease (Blonna, 2007). The degenerative process of atherosclerosis is worsened by physiological changes in a women's body caused by the ongoing stress response (Blonna, 2007) Mandel feels like most women are addicted to stress because of the adrenaline rush they get from the stressor. Many women get the "Look what I can do" syndrome (Mandel, 2008). Women misinterpret the adrenaline rush for satisfaction of being productive. Stress Addicts are not bad people it is just basically a survival mechanism to deal with what is perceived as an unhappy reality (Mandel, 2008).
We must be able to recognize stressors in our own lives. We must observe our own behavior to become aware of the level of impact that stress has in our lives. Debbie Mandel suggests that we step back and look at the whole picture of our self. She gives a really good example of looking at yourself in the same way you would observe a friend. We observe our friends then we usually attempt to give them good advice. We should do this to our own lives. Once I observe myself, the motivation to improve will become part of my mind set as I start to truly see my stress addiction habits (Mandel, 2008).
In the first of the seven steps to reclaiming your life one should also be able to identify their personal physical stress response. Women must determine how their bodies react to the stressor to be able to understand how to create your individual relaxation response (Mandel, 2008). A few of the relaxation techniques mentioned were using humor, meditating, visualizing and using physical or social activity. You must first determine what type of emotion your body experiences, for example one may become anxious, angry, tense, resentful, irritable, fatigued, or even depressed (Mandel, 2008). Relaxation techniques can be useful once the emotional response has been identified. Our body parts also become afflicted when we are feeling stress. Our head, jaw, neck, shoulders, stomach, back, joints and skin may be affected by the stressor (Mandel, 2008). We may also become very hungry or even lose our appetite. Many women have difficulties sleeping, dizziness and become easily distracted when exposed to stressor. Debbie Mandel advised that women must use both mind and body to release stress (Mandel, 2008).
The second step to eliminating the stress in your life involves turning your focus inward and getting reacquainted with who you were before you became a wife, mother and caregiver (Mandel, 2008). Women should get to know the real woman that is hidden inside of them. The real you has been suppressed by the stress filled life that you have lived. Stress can steal your identity. Stress can steal your capacity to be your natural self. Instead stress creates an artificial you. In order to reveal the hidden woman inside of each of us we must accept the fact that we were born original and must create time for introspection. One must feel first rate and take the initiative to fulfill your true self. You do not need to become a shadow of your former self or a shadow of someone else (Mandel, 2008). Having high self esteem is an important factor in finding the hidden woman in you. Find ways to do things that make you feel better about yourself. Low self esteem only causes more stress in your life.
Women must also rediscover their hidden strengths and explore your authentic self, the big idea behind who you are and who you want to be, not what others want you to be (Mandel, 2008). Many women have problems with finding their hidden strength because you do not trust your own intuition. Women must take an active role to define them in order to connect emotionally and creatively with what they want out of life (Mandel, 2008). A few ways to help find your inner strength that the book suggested is to look at what you love to do, take an opinion poll from your family on what you are good at. Then periodically check in with yourself to evaluate what you are feeling and give yourself an identity tune-up
Step 3 is to learn to become a healthy narcissist. Healthy narcissism is an acquired trait. Most of us growing up were taught by our parents to not show off or that it was rude to brag. A healthy narcissist simply assumes that she deserves more out of life and goes after it and that she has the right to her own happiness (Mandel, 2008). Know the deepest truths about yourself and what you wish for and what you aspire to be (Mandel, 2008). Be aware that when you are always doing for others they learn to expect it. Learn to become a self pleaser not a people pleaser. Watch out for friendships that are not healthy. If your friend is constantly insulting you even if meant to be in humor, or if your friend is fascinated by your misfortune or object of pity this is not a healthy friendship. Speak up for yourself or find a new friend. Do not let you time be monopolized by your friends nor let them manipulate you.
Step 4 of the way to break free from stress addiction is to build a healthy body. Gain balance in your life through healthy eating habits. Do not let food become your safe place or develop the habit of eating because you are depressed. Food is not the fix that will make you feel better. Exercise is another way to help alleviate stress addiction. Debbie Mandel advises that if you move the body the mind will follow (Mandel, 2008). Regular daily exercise can give you a natural high. Exercise can make you smarter (Mandel, 2008). Try things like varying your work out. Varying your workout will help challenge your mind. Following an exercise program and eating a well balanced diet will help eliminate stress and make you feel more in charge of your life.
Step 5 is to getting rid of your stress addiction is to cultivate you sense of fun and humor. Humor is an amazing and highly effective way to reduce stress and break away from negative experiences with others (Mandel, 2008). She advises to have F-U-N: Feeling Uninhibited Naturally (Mandel, 2008). William James summed it up best: "We don't laugh because we are happy, we are happy because we laugh." (Media, 2010). Do not take yourself so serious. Creativity comes from having fun. Laughing and having fun decreases the stress in your life. There are a few things that you can do each day to help keep humor in your life. Take five minutes of humor break each day. Read jokes, look at funny photos. Watch comedy television shows that make you laugh. Do not get into a routine in your daily life activities. Try doing something different and funny that you do not normally do like take a different route to work. Sit at a different spot while watching television with your family. Step 5 also tells us that we should be quiet with ourselves and to experience your personal flow, your separateness, as calmly and delightful (Mandel, 2008). We should be comfortable at experiencing things by our self. Find a place that you can be alone and have time to meditate and have self-soothing thoughts daily. Use meditation tapes and exercises to help relax and calm you.
Step 6 is to jump start your libido. Life energy and sexual energy are intertwined (Mandel, 2008). Enjoying regular and enthusiastic sex helps reduce the stress in your life. Make a commitment to have sex on a regular basis. Find ways to change things about your sex life and spice it up. Have sex in places that you would not normally do. If kids are the reason that you are not having sex regularly then put a lock on the door. Change what you wear to bed. If you allow your body time to relax before sex it will enhance a sense of self nurturing, for example take a hot bath and put on a plush robe. Is your spouse the one to always initiate sex? If so take the initiative to start it yourself. If you never have quickie sex then you should try it. All of these ideas should help boost your libido which will in turn help decrease the stress in your life.
Step 7 learn to reframe your thoughts that upset you so that your may have a more positive inner energy. Having a more positive inner energy will enable you to bounce back from conflicts, setbacks and crises. Debbie Mandel says that no one upsets you but yourself (Mandel, 2008). When you hold onto negative thoughts, hold onto anger or are unable to forgive you diminish your capacity for joy (Mandel, 2008). You are only hurting yourself with these negative thoughts and anger. Being able to forgive someone helps reduce the stress that is caused by the negative mind set. Once we forgive ourselves for our own failures, we will be emotionally available to forgive others (Mandel, 2008). Feel compassion for yourself. Do not feel guilty if you are sad. It is okay to be sad at times.
Anger management is another part of reframing your thoughts. Some people feel like when they get anger if they reveal it that it is a weakness. Do not try and hold your emotions of anger in. Holding the anger in only causes it to build up and cause even more stress in your life. Do not try and change people because it will only cause you to become even more enraged when they do not change. This negative energy that you have built up will cause you to become even more stressed. There is a way to deal with conflict when it arises. Keep your voice calm this will cause the other person to not defensive. Maintain your posture, stick to simple sentences and be a good listener will help your deescalate the situation.
By reading the Addicted to Stress book I have discovered that I am definitely a stress addict. I am half way to reducing my stress because I am aware that I am taken over by the stress in my life. Using all of the seven steps that Debbie Mandel suggested will help me become a better person. I have discovered that I should not depend on any one else to make me happy. I am the only one that can make me happy. If I am sad it is because I choose to be that way. I have learned when I look in the mirror the one to blame for my stress level is looking back at me. I must point my finger at myself and no one else. When you hold your hand up and point your fingers you do have three fingers still pointing back at you. I must look at my inner self and assess my confidence, self esteem. I have to bring out the inner woman that lies deep within me. Using all of 7 of these steps will help me reclaim my life. I will be able to find the spontaneity and joy that once fulfilled my life before stress took it over. I must change the way I think about me as a person. As a result of reading this book I am committing myself to the following changes. I will take control of the stress in my life. I will learn to love the inner me. I will learn to change the way I think attempting to take away the negative thoughts. I will commit to myself to keep my self esteem high because I am worth it. I will also commit to always be aware when the stressor in my life are taking over. I will be free from my addiction of stress.