Heart Choices: Ways to Deal With Stress -->

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Ways to Deal With Stress

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.

Debbie Petras
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  1. This is a great list. I especially like the "don't watch TV before bed."

  2. Laurel- My husband and I used to always watch the news before going to sleep. Since we stopped, it's helped us get a more peaceful rest when we're not upset about the latest headline news.

  3. There is another one way to control stress. Just start blogging...

  4. A very smart post. I like the words 'ways to deal with'. I've always believed it is very bad to not deal with stress, like pushing it aside or surpressing it. It is best to face it and take smart positive steps to conquor it.

    I find stillness and reflection are my best ways to deal with stress. If I stop and look at the bigger picture, my stresses don't seem like stresses anymore. This is because I have refocused myself on the more important things.

    Thanks for reminding me of an important lesson.

  5. Philip: Yes, I think blogging is a good outlet too.
    l-jay: I always appreciate your thoughts. If we don't deal with stress, it will impact our health, relationships, etc.

  6. Hi Debbie
    Just found you via Twitter. I love this post on stress and I agree with it all. I've spent the last 15 years helping people cope with their stress and I've found that sometimes the simplest changes have brought about the greatest results.
    Lovely to 'meet' you.
    Love & best wishes

  7. These are great suggestions. A post to print out and put on the refrigerator. Thank you.

  8. Great post and such helpful & positive tips. I try to stay away from the TV news as much as possible, it can bring you down so fast!

    Have a great day,

  9. Thanks Melissa...your blog post today about the tragedy in your neighborhood certainly put stress into perspective.

  10. Good post. I really had not thought about it, at least not in the ways mentioned. I realize there is stress, but I just tend to push it back, or find something else to do, which usually just causes more stress. Thanks for the great ideas.

  11. I kinda hate to say it, but I typically avoid watching the news. I used to stress unnecessarily about being in car accidents because of seeing local news about people dying in them daily.

    Also, on the budget one, one way to eliminate stress is to take action towards something you stress about. So if it is the budget, instead of avoiding the issue, take a little time to make a plan. I have found I work out something within an hour or two that save me from days worth of stressing.

    ~ Kristi

  12. Laughing, that's my answer for stress. Actually I got wrote about it.

    And for some reason, you look familiar. I grew up in Az. too.

    Nice to meet you,



I love to read your comments! I know you have something to share so join in the conversation. And thank you for taking the time.

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