MANAGING STRESS EFFECTIVELY – Love Yourself – Take Care of Yourself

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Often we underestimate the effect of stress on our lives. Stress affects us on a spiritual, mental, emotional and physical level. It creates dis-ease in our bodies. When you are on overload, preoccupied with responsibilities and completely overwhelmed, it’s common to turn to fast acting solutions. After all we do live in a ‘quick-fix’ society. So what do you do?

Do you over-indulge in comfort foods, drink in excess to escape, go shopping on credit, use illicit drugs or abuse prescription drugs for instance? Mishaps happen when we are on overload. I call it the ‘Calamity Jane’ syndrome. This is when you become prone to mishaps and accidents. You find yourself experiencing the ‘dropsies’ or tripping for example.

In order to be there for others, you must first take very good care of yourself. The key is to find a healthy balance when it comes to caretaking. A perfect example of this is that when you are about to take off on a flight, the flight attendant gives you instructions for what to do in the event the air pressure in the cabin is compromised. You are to first put the oxygen mask on yourself and then children and elders. If you find that being there for others is always at your expense, change is necessary. Don’t get caught up into inviting stress into your life where it doesn’t need to be. Take responsibility for your own life and allow others to sort out their problems. Learn how to say no without experiencing guilt. It is a selfless, not selfish, act on your part to know what your limitations are and how much to extend yourself.

What are your current coping mechanisms and how can you improve them? I have found over the years that when I ask a client this question they may initially just shrug and say “I dunno”. However, after exploring a bit, I find out that they do indeed have some positive ways of dealing with stress, but just may not be using all the skills in their repertoire at this particular moment. When you’re highly agitated it can be a bit hard for you to remember what has worked effectively in the past. And sometimes what has worked for you in the past may not be adequate for this event. That is why it’s helpful to have several coping strategies to choose from.

It’s important to develop and utilize positive coping strategies on a regular basis so that when the ‘sh_ _ hits the fan’ you will be well-equipped with a tool-box full of strategies to draw from. Therefore, when you feel like you’re ‘losing it’, you’ll know just what to do to get you centered and focused again. If you learn and master positive coping skills now and practice them regulary, you will automatically be able to access them in times of crisis and avoid drama and chaos.

Here are some suggestions on how to re-focus and get grounded again so you can deal with whatever comes your way:

Get outside and take a brisk walk. Get those natural mood boosters (endorphins) of yours flowing again. The fresh air and sunshine will do you a world of good. Take in the beauty around you. Enjoy nature!

Exercise and stretching create F-L-E-X-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y in your life. It allows you to ‘Go with the flow’. Try yoga and Tai Chi. It’s important to choose exercise you enjoy. Folks who engage in strenuous, excruciating exercise tend to give it up because they can’t maintain the level of effort it requires. Find things that you enjoy doing and you will easily stick with it. Go dancing!

Throughout the day take a few moments to lift your shoulders and roll them forward and backward. This is a simple exercise to release tension that your body is holding onto.

The benefits of meditation and deep breathing have been researched and proven beneficial to releasing tension and gaining clarity to help you to create positive solutions to challenging situations. Five to fifteen minutes of meditation daily is extremely beneficial in reducing stress. Focus on breathing in deeply with your diaphragm, not your chest…holding that breath for 2-4 seconds (whatever feels comfortable for you) and then releasing that breath gently. Breathe in R-E-L-A-X-A-T-I-O-N and gently exhale T-E-N-S-I-O-N.

Eat well. Choose whole foods that are closest to their natural form when they were grown. Avoid chemicals and preservatives in your foods.

Get adequate rest. Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your inner organs. Create a sleep friendly environment in your home.

Find creative outlets such as singing, dancing, woodwork, painting, gardening…using your hands to make things.

Get lost in a good book, inspirational reading, watch motivational movies and listen to soothing music. Bring joy and laughter into your life by watching comedies. Research has shown us that the mere act of smiling releases chemicals that can uplift your mood. I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine”. Here’s a good way to get yourself in a good mood the moment you open your eyes in the morning. Get a smiley face helium balloon and tape it flat to your ceiling or whichever wall is the first thing you see when you wake up. This will help you set the mood for the day.

Nurture and pamper yourself by taking baths. It’s amazing how troubles go down the drain along with the dirty bathwater. Add essential oils to your bathwater to enhance the experience.

Go for a massage, acupuncture, hypnosis session, try Reiki and Magnified Healing energy treatments.

Keep up with your personal hygiene. Get a new look by choosing a new hairstyle. Wear bright colors, avoid drab outfits.

Avoid toxic individuals. Be in the company of positive individuals to lift your spirits.

Make a list of all your accomplishments and successes. Keep it up to date and review it often. Revel in your accomplishments! It allows you to realize you have the resources to keep you in the VICTOR role.

Keep your focus on what you want, not on your current circumstance. If you are always ruminating and obsessing about your current circumstance you will continue to attract that to you. This falls under the category of the Law of Attraction.

Use affirmations and intentions. When you hear yourself thinking or saying negative things about yourself begin to shift this by practicing your intentions during these moments.

Expect miracles. Look for the small miracles that occur daily all around you.

Express gratitude daily. Notice what IS working in your life. List what you appreciate and what you are grateful for and you will naturally keep your focus on manifesting more abundance in all areas of your life.

The above will help you get started. Use this as a guide to get you going. Once you get started you will gain momentum and get motivated and inspired to continue. Have fun making your own list; write it down…it will give it legs!

If you are having difficulty getting started or implementing the above, find a qualified licensed mental health professional to assist you with your personal growth and empowerment.

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