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Make The Most Of Stress Awareness Month!

 April is Stress Awareness Month, which provides the perfect opportunity to examine the role of stress in your life, reevaluate your current stress relief tactics, and develop strategies that work well for you.  Stay tuned for resources all month long that can help you take stress relief to the next level.

Stress Management Basics
Stress Management Spotlight10

Feeling Overwhelmed? Here's Help!

Wednesday April 16, 2014
Sometimes life can feel overwhelming. Whether it's a big crisis you're facing, or a bunch of stressors that quietly grew into an cacophony that left you feeling overwhelmed all of a sudden, taking a few minutes to make the necessary adjustments can make all the difference, and leave you feeling able to take on your stressors with a fresh perspective. The following are several ways to do just that. Here goes:

Feeling Overwhelmed? Turn It Around Quickly.

Recently, I felt overwhelmed by stressors, and I forgot these simple tricks for calming down quickly. I stayed stressed. But once I remembered how to take control and bring myself some inner peace, de-stressing was much easier.
Read on to see what I should have remembered--and will, from now on.

8 Tips for Busy People

Looking for ways to relieve stress that don't take a bunch of time? These stress relief strategies work well for those who lead busy lifestyles--and #7 (learn to say no) can perhaps even help you prevent some of your busy-lifestyle stress in the first place!
Read on for the rest.

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Learn more strategies for combatting overwhelm.

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Stress Relief Basics

Monday April 14, 2014
Sometimes, even if you've been working at utilizing stress management techniques for a while, it helps to get a basic overview of the basics: what stress is, where it comes from, and what works best in the way of stress management. This can be helpful for many reasons. Sometimes we get stuck with one or two techniques that we use in every situation, and we may miss out on other, more appropriate strategies. Also, there may be simple changes that can bring big results--like a shift in attitude--to learn about; it would be a shame to miss out on the simple strategies that can help the most. Also, a better understanding of stress and stress management may lead to a better understanding of how to lead a less-stressed lifestyle. (You may be surprised by what you didn't realize!)

This has been true for me. I've been studying stress and stress management since my first year in college (and unofficially since high school, or even middle school!), and have built up a nice arsenal of techniques on top of a pretty solid understanding of things like the stress response, stress-invoking cognitive distortions, and other topics that relate to stress. This has helped me relieve stress in my life for some time now. However, I'll periodically learn a new piece of information, or begin practicing a new technique, that seems to 'change everything', and deepen my understanding of stress and ability to relieve it, even further.

Here is some basic information about stress, with links to additional resources you can use to deepen your understanding and practice of stress management.

Stress Management Basics

  • What Is Stress?
    We hear the term 'stress' being thrown around so often, we may not realize that people mean different things when they're discussing stress. Just what is stress, and what do people mean by the term? Learn the basics of stress, and find a simple but effective 'game plan' you can use with virtually all the stressors you face.

  • Relaxation Tips
    Relaxation is sometimes seen as a luxury, but in fact, regular relaxation and stress management are important for physical and emotional health. Learn the main reasons for this, and find strategies that work well for you!

  • 10 Things To Know About The Effects of Stress
    What's the role of attitude on your stress levels? How much does stress affect your health? How preventable is stress? Learn the answers to these questions and more.

What about you? What are some stress relief techniques or bits of information that have really deepened your understanding or practice of stress management? Leave them in the comments, so others can benefit, too!

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5-Minute Stress Relief Strategies (And Other Things In Fives)!

Saturday April 12, 2014
Much of the damage of stress comes from chronic stress, the condition when your body's stress response is triggered so much that your body stays in a state of constant stress. (In fact, often people are in 'stress mode' and don't even know it!) This blog provides information and resources to help you calm down quickly when stressed. If you do nothing else in the way of stress management, this important first step can be one of the best for your health!

5-Minute Stress Relief Strategies
Want to ease stress quickly? Here are some ways that you can calm your body's physiology and reverse your stress response in five minutes or less, as well as a more in-depth explanation of why this is so important.

5 Ways to Calm Down Quickly
If you liked those, here are some more ways to reverse your stress response in a matter of minutes, and avoid the effects of chronic stress.

5 Ways to Simplify Life
As long as we're going with a theme of fives, here are 5 more ways to relieve stress simply and effectively!

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"Don't Believe Everything You Think!"

Saturday April 12, 2014
I was just listening to a lecture from Dr. Wayne Dyer, an inspirational writer and speaker who first caught my attention when I was in high school. He was talking about how negative thoughts and habits can hold us back by keying into the subconscious mind, where our negative habits are perpetuated virtually automatically, without us even thinking about what we're doing or questioning what we tell ourselves. Once we make up our minds about something, we operate from those assumptions and they shape our world.

And what happens when we're wrong? Stress is generally the result.

For example, when we're faced with a situation that requires a thoughtful response and tests our abilities, we can see the situation as a threat or a challenge. When we see it as a threat, we immediately feel that we're in danger of something bad happening, and the body's stress response is triggered. We then become engulfed by a cascade of physical responses that prepare us to fight or run, and can also impact our thinking, responses, and sense of wellbeing, and can sometimes lead to the negative effects of chronic stress. When we see the same situation as a challenge, we may feel inspired to rise to the occasion and handle it at our best--or we may simply handle it in an adequate manner--but we generally don't feel stressed in the same way.

The key to whether we see a situation as a threat or a challenge? Simple thought patterns--"I can't handle this!", "This shouldn't be happening!" or "Yikes, what a disaster!" can lead to fear and stress, while other thoughts like, "I can handle this!", "These things happen," and, "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger!" can lead us to feelings of confidence, and enable us to handle more challenges without feeling stressed.

Whether we experience a situation as stressful, challenging, or even invigorating can depend largely on how we interpret the situation, and that can depend on our habitual thinking patterns. And being aware of our negative thinking patterns is the first step in being able to replace them with more empowering patterns of thought. That's why I love this quote from Wayne Dyer's lecture: "Don't believe everything you think!" If you can start noticing and questioning your negative thinking patterns, you can replace them with positive, empowering ones. By doing this, you can eliminate much of the stress that you're experiencing, before you even experience it!

Pessimists are shown by research to experience less happiness, fewer successes and poorer health, and tend to have very specific types of negative thinking patterns. Some common negative thinking patterns are called 'cognitive distortions', and include 'catastrophizing', 'all-or-nothing thinking', and several others. Below is more information on negative thinking patterns--learn about them and become more aware of which are a little too familiar, and you can start to weed them out of your experience!

Negative Thought Pattern Resources:

What are some of your 'favorite' negative thinking patterns? How do they affect your life? Share your experience in the 'comments' section, and please share this blog with (via the 'share' button) if you've found it to be helpful. Have a positive day!


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