Getting a Handle on Stress
In this day and age, it's the rare person who doesn't feel stressed in some way. Rarer still is the person who is managing it well. I say "managing" it because it's really not possible to entirely eliminate stress from your life. But if you organize your life more efficiently and have a few go-to ways to relax, you can significantly lower the wear and tear stress has on your body. Here are a few suggestions for living a lower-stress life.

List the major sources of stress in your life to identify the big categories.

Keep a journal for two weeks to identify the more specific triggers. Write down all the situations that make you feel anxious or tense, as well as how you handled (or didn't handle) them. At the end of two weeks, read through your journal. What stressful events can you avoid? Which relationships are making you feel stressed out? Can you improve them, or possibly consider ending them?

If you're constantly pressed for time with a day that's way too full, what in your schedule could you possibly eliminate?

Make sure you are following all the healthy recommendations in this book.

Eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can go a long way toward helping you cope with stress.

Make time for daily relaxation. It's important to determine what helps slow your mind and body down. Maybe it's meditation, yoga or working out in the gym. It could be reading, sitting down with a cup of tea, listening to music. Find what helps you de-stress and practice it at least once a day.

Get help if you need it. And I'm not just talking about seeing a therapist, although seeing a therapist can be helpful if you feel that your life is out of control.

Consider enrolling in a stress management program at a local hospital, medical center or community clinic. Someone like a professional organizer or life coach might be able to help you manage your life more efficiently.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, talk to your family, friends, colleagues, boss or even your company's administration. They may be able to help you scale back if you've taken on too many responsibilities.

Have a collection of "emergency stress stoppers" in your arsenal. The American Heart Association recommends these seven ways to calm down.

1. Count to 10 before you speak.
2. Take three to five deep breaths.
3. Walk away from the stressful situation and say you'll handle it later.
4. Go for a walk.
5. Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry" if you make a mistake.
6. Break down big problems into smaller parts. For example, answer one email or phone call per day instead of dealing with everything at once.
7. Drive in the slow lane or avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving.
Reprinted from the book 20 YEARS YOUNGER by Bob Greene. Copyright ©2011 by Bob Greene. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company. All rights reserved.


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