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As I write this article, I am stressed. Really, super out of my mind stressed. For two weeks, I have made a point to put some thoughts together about how stress affects us and those around us. My editor finally asked me this afternoon if I was going to get around to submitting it or if she just needed to go ahead and have someone else take care of it. Something has to give between my job, my kids, and my March Madness bracket falling apart.
Ugh! You know the feeling. Too many things to do, not enough time in the day, and everyone seems to be conspiring against your progress. Or maybe you’re in a situation with little control over the outcome but are still expected to go along like a 7-year-old being dragged to your least favorite aunt’s house. Whatever the source, all of us experience stress in our daily lives. How we react to and manage this stress plays a substantial role in our health, relationship quality, and overall outlook on the world.
When it all piles up and your fuse is burning, it’s essential to have already developed your plan to cope. Having a few simple steps to relieve stress can help!
Over the years, between my three kids, my job, and my heavy travel schedule, I have refined a core list of action steps to help ease my way through even the most stressful situations. Most important of which is to keep things in perspective.
Short of calamity, things are usually not as bad as you or those around you make them out to be. Sure your exact moment might be a pain in the rear end but ask yourself if 30 minutes or 30 days from now, what you’re dealing with will be important. Perspective helps you react accordingly and in a way that likely won’t add to your stress. Now that you have grounded yourself, take a deep breath and hold it for 4 seconds. That’s right, 4 seconds. Forced slowing of your breathing slows everything else down and acts as a firewall to prevent your body and sometimes your mouth from outrunning your brain. That rude reply. That raised blood pressure. That bad reaction can all be swept away with a deep breath.
Take a few moments to see the bright side of your situation. This falls under the count your blessings advice mom or dad likely shared with you. Take stock of everything you have going for you. Your reaction to any stressful situation or event should center on what you can control. It’s not always easy to let go, but your stress level will change for the better after you have mastered this skill. And keep getting better. You can only control your actions and thoughts. Pay less attention to what’s happening around you and more to what matters.
Finally, learn to laugh at yourself. It doesn’t have to be out loud. There isn’t a rule that life has to be serious 24/7. Getting through your day is tough enough. Laugh.
Now, about my deadline…