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Just breathe

27 Nov 2005

At what point during the day do you take a moment for yourself?  This question was posed by Dr. Gloria Fiati, psychologist and university professor, at a Stress Management Workshop. Between juggling the demands of work, family life, volunteer activities, and keeping up with friends, for some of us, there isn’t much “me” time left.

According to Dr. Fiati, if you feel tired a lot, irritable, abrupt with people, or unable to laugh at anything, you may be stressed and not know it. It’s important to handle stress as it may lead to other physical complications such as heart disease. Below are some tips for managing stress.

  1. Start your day with ten minutes of quiet meditation or prayer. Find at least one thing to be thankful for.
  2. Breathe away your stress. Several times during the day take deep, full breaths, allowing the abdomen to expand. Then exhale slowly through your mouth and imagine the stress flowing out of your body.
  3. Laugh. Watch comedies, read humorous books, or find someone with a good sense of humour to share some time with.
  4. Keep in touch with friends and family. It’s important not to isolate yourself when you are feeling stressed. Talk about your feelings. Let someone close to you know you are feeling anxious or pressured.  Talking helps.
  5. Revive your spiritual life. Visit a church, attend a bible study or group that shares your beliefs. Gathering with a group for praise and worship or quiet meditation will lift your spirits.
  6. Set boundaries. Encourage yourself to say no when you need to both at work and at home.
  7. Take action. Try to change the situations that are bothering you, if possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
  8. Make time for yourself. Be willing to "stop the world and get off", even it’s only for half an hour after work each day, or one hour once a week. Make a commitment to yourself to take that time no matter what.
  9. Assign yourself “worry” time. Make it short ,then get on with your daily activities.
  10. Take your breaks at work. Getting outside for a walk or doing simple stretches for 10 minutes is great for reducing stress.
  11. Take a getaway. Whether it’s a weekend or just a morning, try to arrange a getaway every once in a while. Leave work and worries behind. If that’s difficult, try writing down your worries or "to-do’s", then put the list away. It will be waiting for you when you get back.
  12. Express your creativity. Take a painting, writing, or photography class.
  13. Try something new. Try that rockclimbing or gourmet cooking class you’ve always wanted to take.
  14. Get fresh air. Regular exposure to outdoor light and fresh air helps to lift your spirits.
  15. Exercise. Start using that gym membership you bought. Walk, jog, swim, or bike. Take a yoga, or dance class. Exercise must be enjoyable if you expect to stick to it.
  16. Go back to water. Relax in a warm bath. Light a few scented candles. Use aromatherapy or other herbal oils. If your muscles are sore from exercising use Epsom salts in the bath water.
  17. Get regular massage therapy. A massage will relax your body and help relieve stress.
  18. Seek professional advice. If you feel overwhelmed with your situation, don’t be afraid to seek a professional counselor for help.

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