Stress Busters

As if worry about the economy wasn’t enough to stress you out, we are approaching the holidays, typically a time of physical and emotional pressure—physical because we are busier than usual, emotional for a huge variety of reasons. Added to this is the undeniable fact that everyone with a job is being asked to do more. AAAAaaaarrrrgggghhhh!

This is a time for tools—tools that will help to minimize the stress and maximize the enjoyment of life. Here are some I’ve collected over the years:

Act as if. Your brain does not know the difference between pretend and reality. If you pretend to be calm by adjusting the expression on your face and the way you hold your body, your brain will respond by sending serotonin and other calming chemicals into your system. Pretty soon pretend becomes your reality.

Change how you hold your body. Your body sends signals to your brain the state that you are in. If your jaw or fists are clenched, it’s a signal of stress and here come the stress chemicals–relax. If you are slumping in resignation, stand up straight in confidence. You always want to hold your body in the way that you want to feel. This is another form of “act as if” and it works immediately!

Breathe. There is a reason pregnant women and athletes are taught to breathe through pain—it works! Three deep calming breaths will do you a world of wonder. If you can, close your eyes at the same time and bring an image to your mind that makes you happy—a vacation spot you loved, the face of a small child you love or puppies—research tells us that the image of puppies instantly make people happier.

Meditate. Most people agree that meditation is a great way to calm down but who has time? In the book Eat, Pray, Love, Bali medicine man Ketut suggests an amazing simple way to meditate: close your eyes and smile. That’s it! Close your eyes and smile. Your brain will be fooled into thinking you are happy and guess what? Here come the happiness chemicals flooding into your body.

Laugh. My least favorite saying is, “Someday we’ll laugh about this.” Why wait? You need to laugh about it now! If you cannot find anything amusing about your circumstances, then find funny CDs, DVDs, cartoons or writers to make you laugh. My granddaughter and I recently read a Calvin and Hobbes book together and, in many instances, I couldn’t finish reading my part because I was laughing so hard.

Surrender. It is not circumstances that stress us out, it is resistance to them. We’ve all heard the advice of what to do if you are driving and your car goes into a skid—steer into it. If you try and go the opposite direction, you will spin out of control. That is a great metaphor for stress. The more you fight the reality of your work or life, the more likely you are to spin out of control with stress. Stop using up energy railing against how unfair it is or how impossible it is. Have you noticed that it does exactly nothing to change the circumstances? Surrender to them and then quietly go to work.

Celebrate what you get done. Have you ever finished a very large project that was both physically and mentally taxing? Organizing a garage full of boxes or a jam-packed closet comes to mind. Think about when you finished—were you exhausted or full of energy? If you think about it, your body might have been tired but you were full of energy. This is because completion gives you energy. The more you take time to celebrate what you have done, the more energy you will have.

Remember, the Law of Attraction says, “You get more of what you focus on.” Are you using your focus to increase your stress or decrease it?

This is certainly not a comprehensive list. I would love to hear from you. What are your favorite stress busters? Email them to me at

Wishing you a stress-free Holiday Season.

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