The Stress AntidoteAug 20, 2011
"Rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep."
What a joy it is to have friends who will be genuinely glad for you when something goes your way. It is even more valuable when they can share your sorrows and losses. Nothing seems as bad when you have someone to talk to about it and nothing feels so lonely as when you can't find a friend to share your ups and downs. The greatest way to relieve stress is to share it with another. It releases us in an amazing way.
Children are also looking for someone with whom to share their good and bad times. It is crucial that we carve out casual time to be available for them to open up to us. We need to be ready to rejoice when they rejoice and weep when they weep or at least be there with a shoulder to cry on.
Controlling stress has many benefits both for us and our children. Stress actually accelerates the rate at which cells age so controlling stress has significant anti-aging benefits. Chronic stress raises blood level insulin and cortisol levels which causes inflammation and thus disease. It raises cholesterol over time and even accelerates inflammatory gum disease which in turn promotes heart disease. Even happy events such as a move or a vacation contribute to the stress load. Elevevated cortisol is thought to lead to abdominal obesity. Having someone to talk to will actually make us healthier and maybe even thinner.
A study from the University of California looked at the effects of caring for children with chronic illness and they found that it ages the moms by as much as ten years. Maybe you have stresses in your life that you suspect are aging you. I watched an interview with President Obama today where they pointed out to him how much he has aged while in office and even showed pictures to prove their point. No doubt that stress ages us and friends with a shoulder to lean on keep us young and resilient.
Only you can access the amount of stress you are under but please take creating time for relationships seriously. Some daily happy moments with your children could literally turn back the clock for you and stress proof them as well. When you know you are daily investing in the people who are most important to you, you will feel less trapped by the daily grind. Stress is something we can help other people alleviate by being there for them. By filling our days with laughter, exercise, wholesome foods, sleep, relaxation and most importantly, friends; we can find a brighter, happier and healthier future.
This week I saw my youngest daughter off to college and was surprised by the tears that flowed for what was actually a happy event. I received in the mail the first hard copy version of Exercising Values, a momentous occasion. I struggled at a triathlon I had hoped to do better at. For each of these experiences, I sought out my family and close friends to share the ups and downs of my week and most of their responses added to my joy and made my losses seem lighter.
On the rare occasion that someone withdraws their friendship either overtly, by long-term neglect, or by death; it leaves a hole in our hearts because we really do need each other and because each relationship is special, unique, and not easily replaced. The best listener I ever had in my life died this year and I don't expect to find anyone else who will take that much time to listen so good-naturedly. It can be even harder when a friendship dies while the person is still alive. Make every effort to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. It is a gift of immeasurable value that you may be uniquely qualified to give especially if that person is your child.
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