I suggest that you refer to the following comprehensive list of suggestions that have
proven to positively impact the levels of stress in people’s lives. These recommendations can help you maintain a balanced position with regard to stress, in which you can enjoy optimal performance at work, connected relationships at home, and a sense of meaning and purpose in your life.
Laughter - People who laugh and view life with a sense of humor find stressful events less disturbing. Laughter works by first arousing us and then leaving us feeling more relaxed. When my Mother was diagnosed with leukemia the doctors gave her only three months to live. My Mother had a wonderful sense of humor and vowed to leave her life laughing. My Brother called her every morning to tell her jokes and funny stories he had rounded up the day before. He became the laughter doctor. My Mother started each day with a belly laugh and shared her sense of humor with everyone she encountered. The nurses and office staff loved to see my Mom coming. They wondered what joke Maggie would bring them that day. My Mother lived an amazing ten and a half months. She attributed her extended life, and its quality, to an abundance of laughter and love. Hearty laughter tones the cardiovascular system, exercises the lungs, and releases muscle tension. So go ahead, laugh hearty, it’s good for you.
Exercise - Some of you are probably mumbling that if you were not so stressed and depressed you would be happy to exercise. Lisa McCann and David Holmes investigated what impact exercise had on stressed or depressed women at the University of Kansas. They assigned one third of the group to aerobic dancing and running, another third to a treatment of relaxation exercises and for comparison purposes, the remaining third received no treatment. Ten weeks later, those in the untreated group were unchanged, those in the relaxation group were feeling better, and those in the aerobic exercise group were dramatically improved. Many studies have confirmed that regular exercise lessens the odds of our becoming depressed or overwhelmed by stress.
Researchers have many theories about why aerobic exercise enhances positive emotions. Exercise lowers both blood pressure and the blood pressure reaction to stress. Exercise increases production of mood-boosting chemicals, such as endorphins. Increased body warmth or the muscle relaxation and sounder sleep that follows could be a side effect of exercise. Remember to always start your exercise program slow and simple.
Sleep - Simply get enough. Many people attempt to deal with overwhelming stress with sleep deprived bodies and minds. Sleep deprivation contributes to stress. Without enough sleep our bodies work at a disadvantage. Our moods alter severely and we have no emotional reserves. Invest in some great CDs or MP3 tapes of relaxation to help you prepare your body for rest. They will aid you in quieting the “busy mind syndrome” that can often steal sleep from you and set you spiraling into anxiety and panic. With tapes, most people fall asleep relaxed in 12 - 15 minutes, bringing about a renewed mind and refreshed body the next morning. Sleep is worth preparing for. A warm bath, warm milk, quiet reading, or relaxing music, are simple but effective ways for you to prepare your body to unwind from the days unwelcome overload of stress.
Optimism - When I was a child my teachers used to tell me to speak up. They wanted me to raise my volume; I want you to raise your quality. Speaking up, being positive and up beat, versus negative and hopeless, has proven to improve the quality of life. Researchers tell us that those who consistently speak in positive terms with regard to life’s situations report that their lives are happier. These same people enjoy more successful outcomes. Rather than see their setbacks as failures, they see them as an opportunity for a new and more creative approach.
I want to encourage you to listen to what you narrate about yourself, others, and the events of your life. Be tuned in to the choice of words you use. You can change your response to life by changing your thoughts that in turn, change your dialogue. Be careful what you communicate verbally. There is great power in learning to communicate positively. Listen to what you say aloud, as well as what you speak quietly to yourself. How you think and speak determines how you feel—how you feel affects how you respond to life.
No matter how hard you may work for success, if your thoughts are saturated with the fear of failure, they will kill your efforts, neutralize your endeavors, and make success impossible. Use The Capables Think-A-Head PocketTM to train yourself to remove negative thoughts and replace them with positive. Be positive, it works!
Actions - Actions speak loudly, even to your subconscious. Act as if you like someone and soon you may. Going through the motions can trigger the emotions. According to William James, “If we wish to conquer undesirable emotional tendencies in ourselves, we must assiduously, and in the first instance cold- bloodedly, go through the outward motions of those contrary dispositions we prefer to cultivate.” We can change our behavior and reactions to situations by pretending to react differently. So when you are in a lousy mood, depressed and upset, try putting on a happy face. It might feel phony at first but who knows, you just might change your day. Step by step, little by little, we can stretch ourselves into a new behavior. When you are anxious, take a few deep breaths and pretend that you are calm. Studies show it works if you will give it a try.
Relationships - Whether they are friendships, family or marriage, social connections can aid us in our ability to handle stress. As you might imagine social connections, such as family and marriage can also be a source of stress but all in all, those with strong social networks report happier, less stressful lives. Intimate relationships; whether they are friendships or relationships with beloved partners provide opportunities for us to unload our stresses. When we feel known and understood, life is easier to handle.
For people without intimate friendships or marriage relationships, support groups, counselors and ministers have played valuable connecting roles. It takes a community to raise a child. Stress can make us all feel somewhat like children. Having people in our lives that care about us and allow us an opportunity to express
ourselves increases our stress hardiness. If you feel isolated, reach out. It is good for your health.
Touch - Touch has been proven to reduce stress dramatically. Whether it is massage, hugs, gentle stroking of hair, or sexual contact, touch is a powerful aid in the reduction of stress. Studies on grade school children found that as little as a five minute massage reduced the stress in taking tests, and students reported feeling better and exhibited higher degrees of concentration. Learning the art of foot massage and hand massage can be a very relaxing experience for everyone in the family. Giving one can be as beneficial as receiving one. Touching one another in healing and bonding ways strengthens your relationship and has been proven to strengthen immune systems as well.
Quiet time - Most mystics and prophets found inspiration in times of contemplative silence. Cardiologist Herbert Benson advocates meditative relaxation as an antidote to stress. In order to experience a relaxation response do the following steps. Assume a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth, several slow deep breaths. Relax your muscles from foot to head by tensing for several seconds each muscle section and releasing. Now concentrate on a single word or phrase or even repetitive prayer, such as Thy will be done. Some concentrate simply on their breath. Thoughts will intrude, let them pass through and maintain your focus for ten to twenty minutes. Studies show that this ten to twenty minute meditation daily can lower blood pressure, strengthen your immune system and boost your longevity.
Faith - Studies confirm that many people find a sense of meaning and purpose in their faith. This contributes to a sense of well being which helps us to handle stressful events. According to David Myers, in his book The Pursuit of Happiness, a hope- filled optimism about the big future moderates our anxiety about the immediate future.
People consistently report that they find their greatest strength and courage in their faith. Faith holds people up when they might otherwise imagine themselves sinking. Faith holds people up when they no longer have the strength to hold themselves. If you have a faith, do all that is possible to strengthen it, if you have lost your faith, do all that you can to find it.
Time management – when you think about it, what is more important than learning to manage your time in a way that helps you avoid and eliminate stress.
Preparation, setting goals, planning a week at a glance, these are just of few important elements for alleviating stress. Often if we can organize our thoughts, we can organize our days, and then our weeks into doable chunks.
The time required to organize your life will be time well spent. There is nothing more frustrating than confusion and a lack of productivity. Time is much to valuable a resource to waste. Get a personal day timer, organize it and carry it with you. Use it as a tool to simplify your life, to keep you aware and on track. There are three currencies, Time, Energy or Effort, and Money. Time is the only one that cannot be earned back once spent poorly. Take your time seriously, manage it well, and the rewards will be astounding.
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