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10 Practical Ways To Handle Stress

Stress is inevitable. It walks in and out of our lives on a regular basis. And it can easily walk all over us unless we take action. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize and cope with stress. Here are 10 ideas for handling stress without causing more strain and hassle.

1. Figure out where the stress is coming from.

Oftentimes, when we’re stressed, it seems like a big mess with stressors appearing from every angle. We start to feel like we’re playing a game of dodgeball, ducking and darting so we don’t get smacked by a barrage of balls. We take a defensive position, and not a good one at that.

Instead of feeling like you’re flailing day to day, identify what you’re actually stressed about. Is it a specific project at work, an upcoming exam, a dispute with your boss, a heap of laundry, a fight with your family?

By getting specific and pinpointing the stressors in your life, you’re one step closer to getting organized and taking action.

2. Consider what you can control—and work on that.

While you can’t control what your boss does, what your in-laws say or the sour state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you accomplish work, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.

The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless. So after you’ve thought through what’s stressing you out, identify the stressors that you can control, and determine the best ways to take action.

Take the example of a work project. If the scope is stressing you out, talk it over with your supervisor or break the project down into step-wise tasks and deadlines.

Stress can be paralyzing. Doing what’s within your power moves you forward and is empowering and invigorating.

3. Do what you love.

It’s so much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love. Even if your job is stress central, you can find one hobby or two that enrich your world. What are you passionate about? If you’re not sure, experiment with a variety of activities to find something that’s especially meaningful and fulfilling.

4. Manage your time well.

One of the biggest stressors for many people is the lack of time. Their to-do list expands while time flies. How often have you wished for more hours in the day or heard others lament their lack of time? But you’ve got more time than you think, as Laura Vanderkam writes in her aptly titled book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

We all have the same 168 hours, and yet there are plenty of people who are dedicated parents and full-time employees and who get at least seven hours of sleep a night and lead fulfilling lives.

5. Create a toolbox of techniques.

One stress-shrinking strategy won’t work for all your problems. For instance, while deep breathing is helpful when you’re stuck in traffic or hanging at home, it might not rescue you during a business meeting.

Because stress is complex, “What we need is a toolbox that’s full of techniques that we can fit and choose for the stressor in the present moment,” said Richard Blonna, Ed.D, a nationally certified coach and counselor and author of Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life.

6. Pick off the negotiable tasks from your plate.

Review your daily and weekly activities to see what you can pick off your plate. As Vanderkam asks in her book: “Do your kids really love their extracurricular activities or are they doing them to please you? Are you volunteering for too many causes and so stealing time from the ones where you could make the most impact? Does your whole department really need to meet once per week or have that daily conference call?”

Blonna suggested asking these questions: “Do [my activities] mesh with my goals and values? Am I doing things that give my life meaning? Am I doing the right amount of things?”

Reducing your stack of negotiable tasks can greatly reduce your stress.

7. Are you leaving yourself extra vulnerable to stress?

Whether you perceive something as a stressor depends in part on your current state of mind and body. That is, as Blonna said, “Each transaction we’re involved in takes place in a very specific context that’s affected by our health, sleep, psychoactive substances, whether we’ve had breakfast [that day] and [whether we’re] physically fit.”

So if you’re not getting sufficient sleep or physical activity during the week, you may be leaving yourself extra susceptible to stress. When you’re sleep-deprived, sedentary and filled to the brim with coffee, even the smallest stressors can have a huge impact.

8. Preserve good boundaries.

If you’re a people-pleaser, saying no feels like you’re abandoning someone, have become a terrible person or are throwing all civility out the window. But of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra activity or doing something that doesn’t contribute value to your life.

One thing I’ve noticed about productive, happy people is that they’re very protective of their time and having their boundaries crossed. But not to worry: Building boundaries is a skill you can learn.

9. Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring.

Sometimes, our mindset can boost stress, so a small issue mushroom into a pile of problems. We continue worrying, somehow thinking that this is a productive — or at least inevitable — response to stress. But we mistake worry for action.

Clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D., talks about the idea of worrying versus caring in his book, The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it, whereas caring is taking action. When we are caring for someone or something, we do the things that support or advance the best interests of the person or thing that we care about.

LeJeune uses the simple example of houseplants. He writes: “If you are away from home for a week, you can worry about your houseplants every single day and still return home to find them brown and wilted. Worrying is not watering.”

Similarly, fretting about your finances does nothing but get you worked up (and likely prevent you from taking action). Caring about your finances, however, means creating a budget, paying bills on time, using coupons and reducing how often you dine out.

Just this small shift in mindset from worrying to caring can help you adjust your reaction to stress. To see this distinction between worrying and caring, try this activity where you can list responses for each one. For example:

Worrying about your health involves…

Caring about your health involves…

Worrying about your career involves…

Caring about your career involves…

10. Embrace mistakes—or at least don’t drown in perfectionism.

Another mindset that can exacerbate stress is perfectionism. Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.

As the researcher, Brene Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth and it’s not self-improvement.”

Nothing good can come from perfectionism. Brown writes: “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life-paralysis [‘all the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect’].”

Plus, mistake-mistaking can lead to growth. To overcome perfectionism, Brown suggests becoming more compassionate toward yourself. I couldn’t agree more.

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Five Steps For Fighting Stress

Everybody gets stressed from time to time. Different people feel stress in different ways. Some ways of dealing with stress — like screaming, hitting someone, or punching a wall — don’t solve much. But other ways, like talking to someone you trust, can start you on the road to solving your problem or at least feeling better.

Try taking these five steps the next time you are stressed:

1. Get support. 
When you need help, reach out to the people who care about you. Talk to a trusted adult, such as a parent, other relative, a school counselor, or a coach. And don’t forget about your friends. They might be worried about the same test or have had similar problems, such as dealing with a divorce or the death of a beloved pet.

2. Don’t freak out! 
It’s easy to let your feelings go wild when you’re upset. Notice your feelings, and name them — for example, “I am so angry!” And say or think about why you feel that way. Then, find a way to calm down and get past the upset feelings and find a way to express them. Do breathing exercises, listen to music, write in a journal, play with a pet, go for a walk or a bike ride, or do whatever helps you shift to a better mood.

3. Don’t take it out on yourself. 
Sometimes when kids are stressed and upset they take it out on themselves. Oh, dear, that’s not a good idea. Remember that there are always people to help you. Don’t take it out on yourself. Be kind to yourself and ask for the helping hand or pat on the back that you need — and deserve — to get you through the tough situation you’re facing.

4. Try to solve the problem. 
After you’re calm and you have support from adults and friends, it’s time to get down to business. You need to figure out what the problem is. Even if you can’t solve all of it, maybe you can begin by solving a piece of it.

5. Be positive — most stress is temporary. 
It may not seem like it when you’re in the middle a stressful situation, but stress does go away, often when you figure out the problem and start working on solving it.

These five steps aren’t magic — and you might have to do some steps more than once, but they do work. And if you can stay positive as you make your way through a tough time, you’ll help yourself feel better even faster. Ah . . . it feels so good when the stress is gone!

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Life After A Break Up – Whose Fault Is It?

Life after a break up can be painful, but the soul searching that most people with broken hearts indulge in can be even more painful. Relationships fail at times, but can you really point fingers?

Breaking up is always hard to do. However, when we are smitten by the thing called love, none of us are really looking that far ahead. All we want to do is to indulge in the happiness of the moment.

The more philosophical among us would know that the wave that is reaching its peak will soon start to break and form a trough. The ups and downs or the waves in our life are what give it a balance. Like the swing of the pendulum, issues will be positive, and then go negative. The ebbs and flows are not just a part of nature, but of ourselves as well.

Unless we understand this, we are bound to be miserable when things are down for us.

A woman had been married for barely four months and because of the stress, strain and trauma that she was experiencing, she decided that it was best to opt for a divorce. This was a marriage that had blossomed out of a happy romance to start with.

One of the things she was most upset about was how she was not able to read her husband well enough? How did he turn out to be so different after marriage, when he was so good when they were courting? The thing that she admired in him was his outgoing nature, while she was a bit introverted as a person.

After marriage, his outgoing nature was perceived as a carefree, no-goals characteristic that she had begun to detest.

His non-flustered style was appreciated earlier as being so cool in the most troubling situations. Now she saw this as being totally devoid of feeling, and called him stone-hearted, and out of touch with reality.

But on deeper thinking, she realized where she too had contributed to the breakdown in the relationship. She also regretted that she had challenged her parents, and walked out of her house in order to marry this person who was from a different upbringing and community. She now felt that she should have taken time to explain things to her parents, instead of thinking that they would never understand her.

As it turned out, her parents were the first people whom she turned to in this crisis, and they were the ones who suggested that she visit a counselor and try to sort things out in the marriage. She was now suffering from a guilt complex. The people she judged, her parents, did not judge her at the time when she had decided to face the failure. It took some doing to pull her out of the quagmire that she had created for herself. But she has now regained her sanity, and is taking a break before she takes a firm decision in her life.

The first thing that we normally do when things fail is to look for someone to blame. Curiously, it is always the ‘other person’s fault’. It is not easy for us to see our own flaws. Even when we try to find out where we have been wrong, this is difficult, as there is always some area of our behavior or attitude that we cannot see. It is a blind side that others would have noticed, but most often, not brought to our notice. Even if they did mention it to us, we would probably have brushed it aside, ascribing jealousy, or a lack of perceptual competence as the reason for the negative comment.

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10 Yoga Poses to Fight Depression and Anxiety.

The mind, body and spirit are all connected and when a person suffers from mild depression or anxiety, the body is out of balance. Yoga is a series of stretches that helps bring balance to the body; not just focusing on the body’s health, but also on the mind and spirit. Always consult a physician or counselor if you are having ongoing feelings of depression or anxiety and before trying any new exercise program.
1. Begin with the Lotus position, sitting crossed legged with hands resting on the knees, palms up. The most important thing is to remember to breathe. To calm the rapid breathing often accompanying panic attacks, focus on your breathing at first, a five count in and a five count out, but let the breathing become natural. Let the breathing set the rhythm of the practice. Eyes should be closed, listening to the rhythm of the breathing. After five or ten minutes here, the body should feel calmer.
2. Viparita Karani is a great pose for either depression or anxiety as it has both a soothing and energizing effect. Often called the fountain of youth pose, it can be done by beginners or experts. Lie flat on the back with the arms laying at the side and palms down or open the arms with palms up to open the heart even more. Rest the legs against the wall to hold this pose longer comfortably or for more advanced practices, lift up the lower back and rest the bottom on the hands.3. Fish pose is a terrific pose for opening the heart. Opening the heart with back-bending yoga positions is believed to not only expand the rib-cage to give the lungs more room to breathe, but to open the spiritual heart center. Opening the heart, or stretching the chest, eases respiration, relieves stress by unclogging the tension in the tissue in the core. Lying on the back with the arms at the side, round the back and lean as far back on the crown of the head as is comfortable. Lay a bolster, yoga block or pillow under the back for support.

4. In the lying position Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or the Bridge pose is different from a bridge in gymnastics. With bent knees lift the core, arms should lay at the side, palms up or interlock the fingers behind the back. This pose calms the mind and energizes the body. Place a bolster or pillow under the back to hold this pose longer and more comfortably.

5. & 6. The calming poses, Cow and Cat, should be used together. Position the knees under the hips and the hands under the shoulders, kneeling on all fours with a neutral spine. With the inhale, let the belly sink towards the floor, looking up for Cow and letting the head fall down, with the exhale, round the back up to the ceiling for Cat. Keep the eyes closed as much as possible. Try and round the back one vertebra at a time. This pose is terrific for stress in the back; it establishes ideal spinal alignment, strengthens and stretches back muscles in the back and develops coordination of spinal movement.

7. Salabhasana or the Locust pose is a yoga posture. Lying on the belly with the arms along side the body, lift the legs and arms together and lift the chest as high as is comfortable. This pose opens the heart, helps poor posture, depression, low energy, digestion, gas, bladder and back pain. Move into Dhanurasana or Bow pose, relax, then bend the knees and take hold of the feet with the hands. Pull back with the legs to help open up the heart and chest.

8. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or the Upward Facing Dog pose can be entered from Locust by coming to a neutral lying position, then planting the toe nails and the palms, directly under the shoulders, into the mat. Lift the body slowly off the mat so that only the tops of the feet and the palms of the hands are the only parts of the body firmly planted to the mat.

9. Child’s pose or Balasana is a resting position which can help calm the body and the mind when under stress. Return to Child’s pose at any time during practice when feeling as though the body may have been pushed too far. On bended knees, lean forward with the forehead to the the mat. Lay arms at the sides of the body with palms up next to the feet or palms down stretched over the head. Breathe deeply, focusing on the breath with eyes closed.

10. Every yoga practice should be competed with Savasana or the Corpse pose. This is the most important pose in any yoga practice and should never be skipped. The body processes the information received through practicing yoga during this pose. Palms, middle of the back, and the back of the head should all be planted into the mat. The feet can fall loose and the eyes closed to help the body relax into the pose. With eyes closed and the focus on the breathing, hang out here for five or 10 minutes.

Slowly wake up the body, wiggling the toes and fingers. Then roll gently on the side, laying the head on the arm and bending the knees. Gently and slowly lift the body. The body should feel revived and the mind calmed.

Focusing on breathing and practicing yoga poses can calm momentary anxiety and depression, by giving the mind a peaceful focus and re-energizing the body.

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Some of the ways that “Individual Counseling” can get you moving.

Don’t be alone if you’re depressed. Therapy is essential in managing depression. If you feel helpless to make the changes to get your life moving in a new and positive direction, or you’re not seeing the desired results you want, then talking with a professional counselor can help. Most people with depression respond extremely well.Effectively managing stress and anxiety – from free-floating anxiety to full-blown panic attacks – changes the way you experience life. Take control of your life and start confidently making decisions that lead you toward personal growth. Free yourself from the persistent “humming of anxiety” so you’re comfortable to explore new territory that creates new opportunity.Understand what makes you angry and resentful ― and become less reactive and intense in your interactions with other ― and in challenging situations. Use anger management skills to liberate you from the past traumas causing the destructive reactions that tear down your relationships and serenity. Learn how to communicate with compassion and calmly express your feelings in a productive way. Stop missing out on opportunities because you’re afraid of taking action. Escape the grip that your past has on you ― affecting your decisions and distorting your perceptions. Experience a new sense of healthy self-esteem and create a fulfilling life for yourself.Relationship issues can take its toll on most partnerships, and often it’s a good idea to first seek individual counseling to first work through your own individual and deeply private feelings before joining your life partner in couples counseling or marriage counseling.