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5 Things I Have Learned About Tackling Stress

5 Things I Have Learned About Tackling Stress

A Buddhist monk once said, “If a problem can be solved, why worry? And if it cannot be solved, what’s the good of worrying?”

Wise words, but admittedly difficult to practice. Problems are inevitable, and they cause stress. And stress can contribute to serious health conditions.

Like everyone else on the planet, I have my stressful days and moments. Finding ways to deal with them has taught me how to sift the useful tips from the less effective ones. Let me share some stress-relief strategies that really work for me:

1. Wait it out.

I can never forget what my father said while battling a bout of flu. “I am enjoying it,” he said, red-nosed but smiling. “It’s nothing but the body’s channels cleansing themselves. Another two days, and I’ll be fine!” This, when he had work deadlines he could not miss.

Another time, when I lay bedridden from multiple fractures, my surgeon gently told me the secret to dealing with the depression: “Think of the pain as a tunnel that you are slowly swimming through. At the end of that tunnel, there is light. Power yourself toward that light.” The image helped me tremendously. Stress will happen. Let it come and go. Hang in there!

2. Walk away.

When it comes to stress, don’t indulge in give-and-take, because stress can be contagious. It rubs off on others around you. And if somebody around you is stressed, the effects can ruin your own mood and day. When I feel a stressful situation developing, I try to move physically away from the scene and situation for a while. I am a book lover, so a trip to a bookstore always calms me. Sometimes, I go watch a movie, or just take a nice walk. If things are really stressful, you might consider a solo vacation. Nature offers a comforting shoulder indeed.

3. Analyze your anger.

It is easy to feel stressed when someone is saying harsh, hurtful words to you. And it is indeed difficult to put yourself in the other person’s shoes at that moment. But if you can teach yourself to empathize, you could let go of the intense negative feelings that stress brings. Remember, when someone says things that are painful for you to hear, it is likely that he is also feeling much of the pain he is inflicting. Here is a good reminder from writer William Arthur Ward:  ”It is wise to direct your anger towards problems — not people; to focus your energies on answers — not excuses.”

4. Use humor.

A good laugh fills your lungs with fresh, oxygen-rich air and releases feel-good endorphins into your system. The result: you feel instantly better. When stress comes knocking, treat yourself to some episodes of Candid Camera, a  Marx Brothers movie, or a stand-up comedy show—nothing works like a hearty dose of laughter. Shared laughter is even better, so take a friend or two along. Your stresses will have no choice but to melt quietly away!

5. Pamper your body.

This is my favorite way to deal with stress. Over the years, I have noticed how easily the body responds to a little TLC. A quick trim and blow-dry or facial massage are enough to take your mind off your stress. Checking into a good day spa or a spa resort over the weekend not only revitalizes your tired body, but also rejuvenates the unhappy mind. You emerge feeling more confident, energetic, and ready to take on the world. Massage, in particular, reduces muscle tension and improves blood circulation. A trained therapist knows and works on the right marma points, thus aligning the body’s healing energies to make you feel better.

What are your own strategies for dealing with stress? Do share!

By Shubhra Krishan

Shubhra Krishan

Writer, editor and journalist Shubhra Krishan is the author of Essential Ayurveda: What it is and what it can do for you (New World Library, 2003), Radiant Body, Restful Mind: A Woman’s book of comfort (New World Library, 2004), and The 9 to 5 Yogi: How to feel like a sage while working like a dog (Hay House India, 2011).

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Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

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Know Yourself, Accept Yourself

Know Yourself, Accept Yourself

 

If you’re very self-critical, you can often times find yourself apologizing to others about the way you are. It can be demoralizing when who you are doesn’t match up with who you want to be. But the way of getting from point A (who you are) to point B (who you want to be) isn’t through negativity or self-defeat, but rather: acceptance.

Accepting who you are now doesn’t mean that you will never change. Accepting who you are now doesn’t mean that you are dangerously overlooking your flaws or your areas of weakness. But if you do accept who you are, it means you are better able to acknowledge those aspects of yourself that are less than perfect and compensate for them if needed.

You can spend your time lamenting the fact that you weren’t born perfect or you can use that energy to work with how you are right now. So, you need an extra push to get your to-do list done? Instead of trying the same things over and over again and failing (making a to-do list then getting overwhelmed at the sight of it and procrastinating to the point that you don’t get anything done), use your resources to do things differently. A resource could be anything: a book, a website, a friend, a co-worker or even a rewards system. The key is first knowing who you are, then accepting it so that you can work with it (rather than against it) to get different results.

How can you learn more about yourself? One way is by taking inventory of your strengths. It’s been found that we often spend most of our energy focusing on our *shortcomings rather than what we do well. Maybe it doesn’t matter so much that your sock drawer is always a mess if you are the type of person who can turn someone’s frown upside down. It’s important to know what your strengths are so that you can bring the best of you to the world (rather than always focusing on the “worst” of you). A great book that can help you with this is StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. It gives an assessment of your skills and lays out strategies for utilizing your strengths in your everyday life.

The most important thing to remember is to keep some perspective on what really matters in the long run. Will you really remember that you didn’t make the best bean dip for your best friend’s party? Or will it matter more that you focused on being the best friend that you could possibly be — flaws and all?

Know yourself, accept yourself, and share your light with the world.

Erika Oglesby

Erika Oglesby is a freelance writer and wandering nomad currently located in Grand Rapids, MI. She is dedicated to helping people better their lives through self-knowledge and alternative therapies — especially women of color and women diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. Visit her website at http://www.erikaoglesby.com.

Image Credit: Ivan McClellan / Flickr

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