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By Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. & Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D.

Would you like to spend less time racking up emotional debt and more time receiving dividends from your ‘feeling better’ bank account? Research findings show that the complex demands of family and work can really get you down. When inundated with a myriad of responsibilities, daydreaming about what you would rather be doing is a typical and common pastime.  

It is well known that stress is the body’s response to any stimulus - external or internal - that is perceived as taxing personal resources. It can appear suddenly, unexpected and unannounced: physiologically as headaches, stomach upset; emotionally by feeling irritated, overwhelmed; cognitively with memory loss, trouble concentrating; behaviorally by changes in eating or sleep patterns. If you‘re ready to learn how to keep your stress in check, use the following tips and restore balance to your life.

1.Although you cannot necessarily change what happens to you, you can change how you handle it. Start by freeing yourself from negative feelings. Face uncertainty with a positive attitude or reframe a pessimistic reaction into a more neutral or optimistic one. By learning more about constructive responses to difficult situations, you will have access to a wider variety of resources and strategies.  

2.Stay in the moment. Don’t beat yourself up and feel bad about the mistakes you’ve made. Keep in mind that you are human and no one is perfect. Being worried about the past or fearful about the future can keep you stuck. Rather than ruminating, feeling frustrated or discouraged and giving up, why not try something different. You deserve a second chance.  

3.When you feel perplexed, although it’s fine to get support from others, primarily rely on your own instincts. You may not realize your hidden internal strength, so trust yourself as you look inside for answers. Emotional discomfort can be a welcome opportunity – it serves as an invitation to grow and leads to greater self understanding.  

4.Bring order into your life by prioritizing and organizing – start keeping records by making lists and folders or using a calendar of blackberry. Enjoy greater peace of mind as you gain power over your finances and pay off your debts. Remember that your time is valuable. So set limits by saying ‘no’ to others and ‘yes’ to yourself.

5.Take control of what is within your reach. And have the wisdom to know the difference between what you can manage and what you can’t. In addition, recognize that you don’t have to do it all alone. Make the decision to ask for help when you need it.

6.Work on feeling more empowered and get involved in a culture that supports this. Be grateful for what you have by getting outside yourself. Put the focus on others in need – become a mentor to at-risk youths or share your skills and experience with a homeless shelter.

7.Spend time relaxing and rejuvenating as you develop stress relievers to counteract burnout. Take better care of your body through exercise, good nutrition and proper rest. Attend to your mind and your spirit. Practice techniques of deep breathing, relaxation or your own form of meditation Set aside quiet time and do what brings you personal pleasure.  

As you begin this journey, give yourself the priceless gift of a life less stressed. Remember to pack your patience as change is a process that takes time. Make a decision to leave behind the emotional baggage that is too large to fit in the overhead compartment. You’ll soon discover that the small changes you make allow more peacefulness to emerge in your hectic life. Take heart as you embrace and celebrate the simplicity of the present moment.  

© Her Mentor Center, 2008

Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. & Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. are co-founders of www.HerMentorCenter.com, a website for midlife women and www.NourishingRelationships.Blogspot.com, a Blog for the Sandwich Generation.  They are authors of a forthcoming book about Baby Boomers’ family relationships and publish a free newsletter, Stepping Stones, through their website.  As psychotherapists, they have over 40 years of collective private practice experience.



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