Stress seeps into our lives from every known angle and sometimes it’s all we can do to keep our heads above water. We hear about it all the time but what is it exactly?
According to the American Psychological Association’s website, “Stress can be a reaction to a short-lived situation, such as being stuck in traffic. Or it can last a long time if you're dealing with relationship problems, a spouse's death or other serious situations. Stress becomes dangerous when it interferes with your ability to live a normal life over an extended period. You may feel tired, unable to concentrate or irritable. Stress can also damage your physical health.”
But is it possible to manage the stress that seems to come with everything in life? Kim Stewart, a certified hypnotherapist, Reikki Master, and spiritual healer says “yes.” This life coach recently released her second CD, "Take a Deep Breath Now" designed to help eliminate stress and says it is possible to reduce stress in one's life. In an e-mail interview she provided five easy steps to manage the everyday stress in anyone’s life:
1) Set realistic goals/to do lists: Never eat an elephant whole! It is one bite at a time. Break things down into small manageable steps. Try this exercise: make a to-do list with two columns. Label the first column as ‘Me’ and list only the things you know you will achieve. Label the second column ‘Universe/God’ and list all the things that you would like to achieve that day but are not sure how you will. Then allow the universe to organize itself so you can achieve them. You get to see and experience the magic of the universe at work!
2) Expectations: Expect a certain amount of things to go wrong or not go according to plan. How many times during your day do things not go according to plan? 10? More? What would happen if you started to look out for them? Breakfast burnt? That’s 1…and only 9 to go! Or on a 'bonus' day, maybe twelve things didn’t go according to plan? Great! You knew it was coming.
3) Stop taking life so seriously: Laugh! Laughter is one of the best things to counterbalance the effects of stress. When we laugh we release endorphins the feel good chemicals, which counter acts the stress chemicals. Spend time with people who make you laugh. Laugh for no good reason at all. Instead of catching up on the news or drama, switch your viewing to funny things, your stress levels will drop and your endorphins will rise.
4) The Power of Meditation and Breath: Meditation is a powerful tool for combating stress. It is like hitting the refresh button. Whether you have 5 minutes or 30 minutes, spending some time each day in meditation lowers the stress chemicals in your body and helps to clear your mind. I have found on the days I meditate I have more time, my mood is better and things tend to flow more smoothly.
5) Make it up 'good': Anxiety is usually future based and in order for anxiety to be effective we have to project into the future. Make up the worst case scenario and then come back to now as though it was true! The scenario you just made up is exactly that, made up. I encourage people to make it up good. How would you like it to be? For most people having experienced the event going really well, all the stress is gone. Then bring that reality to the present. The great thing about this technique is you align your mind and your energy to go in the direction you would like to go as opposed to what you don’t want.
Source: Interview with Kim Stewart via email, 19, September 2011.
American Psychological Association. "Stress." Web. 20, September 2011. http://www.apa.org/topics/stress/index.aspx
Reviewed September 21, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Malu Banuelos