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By EmpowHER January 9, 2008 - 8:58am
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What do you consider the biggest causes of stress in your life? And what are you doing to control them?

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Hi everyone!

I've been thinking about what I do for relieving stress, and thought I'd share; I'm curious if anyone else does this too?

Usually when I'm *most* stressed out, it has to do with my attitude. Of course, this realization comes after I've placed the blame on everything and everyone else first: my husband, toddler, work, mother, friend, undone chores, traffic or other "unavoidable-outside-force-that- is-taking-my-last-ounce-of-energy-and-patience-

I attempt a new thought process: if "everything" and "everyone" are the culprits, that the common denominator, the one thing that is present in all the above, the one thing that is really causing the stress is: me!

Once that happens, I then have to:
1) apologize to aforementioned "everyone's"
2) give hugs & kisses to "everyone" (this helps with de-stressing!!)
3) Read a few pages in my favorite pro-female book

I have found a few authors I love, who are positive, inspiring women, and they usually have a few chapters that I can read quickly, and provide the reassurance I need to validate that I am a good mother, employee, wife, daughter, friend...and the list goes on.... :-)

Who are the good, positive, inspiring female authors that you all read?

February 7, 2008 - 3:33pm

Have you ever met a "naturally tense" person? That used to be me! I'd get so wound up about things that I would feel as though my heart was pounding through my chest or I'd suddenly come down with a debilitating migraine, usually over something out of my control. I'm a perfectionist by nature, but learned over time to relax, focus on what's really important in life and let go of what I cannot control.

These are my easy, self-proven strategies for busting stress, no yoga or meditation necessary:

1) Breathe. Like the song goes, "just breathe."
2) Laugh. Share a joke, read the comics, watch a funny movie.
3) Stretch. Shake out your tensions and do some gentle stretches.
4) Clear the clutter. Chase away the feeling of being overwhelmed by clearing out a drawer or cabinet.
5) Exercise. Do some gardening or take a brief walk.
6) Go mindless. Clear the clutter in your head, listen to soft, calming music or sounds.
7) Socialize. Call a friend, chat with a neighbor. Positive interaction breaks tension.
8) Create. Busy fingers refocus your mind on positive activity.
9) Quiet the noise. Light a fragrant candle, turn off the TV, savor a cup of herbal tea.
10) Hugs. Hugging someone or your pet is better than chocolate.*

*Someone just told me that there's nothing better than chocolate. OK, so let me clarify - hugs have 0 calories, and it should be dark chocolate you reach for, lol!

February 5, 2008 - 6:40am

Some of the biggest stresses in my life are the constant plate twirling between work and family. Being driven to make sure I'm spending "Quality Time" with my family while making sure I am giving my best at work. As much as this is my biggest stress, I would NEVER change any thing and constantly work to make sure I'm allowing adequate "me" time with my favorite friends and my mom. This time allows me time to recharge and stay focused on what's important. What helps me stay sane it to remember not to take life too seriously and to cut myself some "slack".

February 4, 2008 - 5:12pm

I love yoga! It is great for stress relief and it's also a great workout. If you haven't tried it before, you don't know what you are missing. I personally can't do the Flow class, because they heat the room for that one. Try a basics class!

February 4, 2008 - 5:00pm

Personally, I think the notion that women, particularly moms, had to be superwomen came from our moms plus our own generation's belief that we could have "it all," whatever "it" was. Our moms were raised to take care of house and home so that the dad only had to focus on providing for the family. Then, our generation wanted career and family and struggled to find the balance. Well, the balance is achieved when partners chip in as equally as possible, not just when you distribute your time equally among the dozen-plus roles you play daily. "Superwoman stress syndrome" was a popular subject of study in the 1990's, and by the turn of the century, women realized that it was not a sign of their weakness to say "no" or ask for help with house and home without fear of being seen as "failures" in some way.

Like you, I was fortunate to have a husband who was willing to help with our brood of three, and my mom nearby to offer occasional relief. Remember, too, to take a little time out for yourself. Life is far too short to stress over things that don't matter, and stressing out prevents us from appreciating what's important. Just admitting that it's okay to not have to do it all is a huge step in a more fulfilled life. Congratulations!

February 4, 2008 - 2:45pm
HERWriter Guide

Ah stress - the great bonding agent for women!

After having three children in two years, I spent way too much time telling people I was coping well, I had it all down and things were dandy. Things were ok - but not dandy. I was changing diapers, nursing and feeding toddler food all at the same time. I was running a home, hugging, kissing, caring, cooking, moderating and writing, and I didn't want anyone to tell me that my stress was my own fault for having a small squadron of children so quickly! In retrospect, I think I was a bit too proud to admit I needed some help.

When my baby was born and my older kids were ages 1 and 2 (yes, in my home those ages are considered 'older'!), I finally took a breath and said "I need help". And people helped. The relief was almost instant. Life is still stressful but if someone wants to hold the baby while I change a diaper - I let them. If someone offered to feed a child, I let them. Most importantly, I told my husband how hard it was and how the exhaustion was numbing me. When I wasn't numb, I was the opposite - my heart raced and I could feel my blood pressure rise from simply being overwhelmed. I even half-jokingly said to myself "I'm gonna have a heart attack!" when things got to be too much.
And so my husband jumped in more - offered before being asked - and the stress lessened. It was surprising how quickly it happened. I still don't get to relax much (who does?) but letting go and asking for help was key for me. Less stress has made me a better mother, wife, friend, writer and human being. I probably did my heart a favor too.

My biggest fear was that people would think I was a failure for not handling everything at record pace. And it turned out that people had thought it rather odd that I was handling everything at record pace. "Wow," I thought. "This whole women-need-help thing is really cool!"

Women are supposed to be superwomen and I don't know why or how that notion started. And we keep our stress to ourselves because maybe we don't want to admit that we're...human. And then when one of us has heart failure, everyone wonders how something like that could happen to a woman who could cope with anything...

I can do it all! But I can't do it all at the same time.

And that's ok.

February 4, 2008 - 2:05pm
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