Do you long for a more peaceful and calm life? Do you wish you could escape your responsibilities and take a vacation from your problems?
I smile as I think of the movie "What About Bob?" when Bill Murray's character took a vacation from his problems. Of course, he followed his psychiatrist to his family's vacation destination.
Dealing with ongoing stress is difficult and can have many negative consequences on your health. But what do you do when the financial markets are in crisis or your parents are getting older and have health issues that require your time and energy...but you live in a state on the opposite side of the country? Every time you turn on the TV you hear about a disaster or crisis...and you wonder why you feel so stressed?
What can you do? Do you have choices?Here are a few suggestions:
- You are in control of your response to stress: You cannot control all circumstances in life but you can chose how you respond.
- Don't watch the news before going to bed at night: Dwelling on sensational news accounts does nothing to promote a good night's rest.
- Start your day with a quiet time even if it's only 10 minutes: By taking that initial time each morning you can choose to focus on what's really important.
- Do some physical exercise: Exercise helps change your physiology. Your thoughts can have a direct effect on your body. Change the way you move and you can often change your mood. Going for a walk or a hike can be such a great stress reliever.
- Learn a relaxation technique: Simply taking a few deep breaths can help to relax your body, lower your blood pressure and heart rate. When people are stressed they often breathe more shallow and from their chest. Try to imagine a balloon in your stomach. When you inhale, the balloon fills up. When you exhale, the balloon deflates. When you feel particularly stressed, take a mini-break and take a few breaths.
- Take stock of your life: Are you spending too much money when your budget has been cut back? Do you overcommit your time when you're already overstretched as it is?
- Leave the TV off if you're home during the day: It's too easy to waste time with mindless TV watching. You may have intended to watch one show but now several hours have gone by. Media reports can be quite sensational creating more anxiety.
- Don't panic: Live long enough and you realize that there are cycles to the financial markets. It can be a wake up call to many people who may need to make adjustments in their life and choose to live more wisely for the future.
- Help someone else: When I realize that other people have problems too, it gets my focus off of myself and puts things in perspective. Helping a neighbor or simply providing a listening ear to a friend may be a way to deal with stress.
- Laugh: It takes less muscles to smile than to frown. Start using those muscles. Watch reruns of "I Love Lucy". Read some good jokes. Find joy in the simple things in life. And don't take yourself too seriously...learn to laugh.
There will always be challenges in life. Focus on the things you can do something about. A wise friend once told me not to waste time worrying about things that may never happen. If you think back to "what if" situations that you worried about in the past, most of them never happened. So, why waste today on worry? Choose to live your life day by day and sometimes...moment by moment.