Power up Your Life & Make Stress Work 4 You: A do-it-yourself handbook on managing stress efficiently

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Anxiety is an absolutely necessary emotion. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of anxiety. The trick is to manage your anxiety and keep it within optimal levels in order to achieve top performance. You can get better at managing the anxiety you inevitably feel when facing difficult and uncertain situations. You just need to follow the steps that successful and empowered people take to keep their anxiety from taking over. The key thing to understand before getting started is that you are indeed facing uncertainty—the outcome of your future has not been decided.

People change and businesses go through ebbs and flows. Their companies have fallen on tough times. The difference is that they believe they are fully capable of dealing with changes and making something positive happen. Rather, it will open your mind to change and sharpen your ability to spot and respond to impending changes. This mantra is a voice of despair, anxiety, and passive inaction. On your list of possible changes from step one, jot down all of the positive ways in which you can take action and respond to each change. Over time, we all develop mental scripts that run through our heads and influence how we feel about our circumstances and what we do in response to them.

10 Ways to De-stress Your Mind and Body

These scripts go so far as to tell us what to say and how to act in different situations. To do this, recall a tough time you went through recently. What was it you believed about your circumstances that prevented you from making the most of your situation or responding more effectively? This is the empowered script you will use to replace your hard-luck script.

File these away so that you can pull them out and study them whenever you are facing stress or strong anxiety. These periodic reminders will eventually rewrite your scripts completely, enabling you to operate from an empowered script at all times. A big step in managing anxiety involves stopping negative self-talk in its tracks.

The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it's time to stop and write them down. Deep breathing is easy to learn. You can do it at any time, in any place. You can use deep breathing to help dissipate stress as it occurs. Practice the routine in advance; then use it when you need it most. If you find it helpful, consider repeating the exercise four to six times a day — even on good days. Bodily exercise can help relax the mind, and mental maneuvers can, too.

Most often, that means talking out problems with a supportive listener, who can be a friend, a chaplain, or a trained counselor or psychotherapist.

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But you can also do it yourself, harnessing the power of your own mind to reduce stress. Simply writing down your thoughts and feelings can be very beneficial, and formal meditation exercises have helped many people reduce stress and gain perspective. Meditation is a prime example of the unity of mind and body. Mental stress can speed the heart and raise the blood pressure; meditation can actually reverse the physiological signs of stress. Scientific studies of Indian yoga masters demonstrate that meditation can, in fact, slow the heart rate , lower the blood pressure, reduce the breathing rate, diminish the body's oxygen consumption, reduce blood adrenaline levels, and change skin temperature.

Although meditation is an ancient Eastern religious technique, you don't have to become a pilgrim or convert to put it to work for you. In fact, your best guide to meditation is not an Indian spiritualist but a Harvard physician, Dr.

Herbert Benson. Here's an outline of what Dr. Benson has termed as the relaxation response:. Select a time and place that will be free of distractions and interruption. A semi-darkened room is often best; it should be quiet and private.

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If possible, wait two hours after you eat before you meditate and empty your bladder before you get started. Get comfortable. Find a body position that will allow your body to relax so that physical signals of discomfort will not intrude on your mental processes. Breathe slowly and deeply, allowing your mind to become aware of your rhythmic respirations. Achieve a relaxed, passive mental attitude. Close your eyes to block out visual stimuli. Try to let your mind go blank, blocking out thoughts and worries. Concentrate on a mental device.

Work related stress

Most people use a mantra, a simple word or syllable that is repeated over and over again in a rhythmic, chant-like fashion. You can repeat your mantra silently or say it aloud. It's the act of repetition that counts, not the content of the phrase; even the word "one" will do nicely. Some meditators prefer to stare at a fixed object instead of repeating a mantra.

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In either case, the goal is to focus your attention on a neutral object, thus blocking out ordinary thoughts and sensations. Meditation is the most demanding of the autoregulation techniques, but it's also the most beneficial and rewarding. Once you've mastered meditation, you'll probably look forward to devoting 20 minutes to it once or twice a day. Stressed muscles are tight, tense muscles. By learning to relax your muscles, you will be able to use your body to dissipate stress.

Muscle relaxation takes a bit longer to learn than deep breathing. It also takes more time.

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But even if this form of relaxation takes a little effort, it can be a useful part of your stress control program. Here's how it works:. Progressive muscle relaxation is best performed in a quiet, secluded place. You should be comfortably seated or stretched out on a firm mattress or mat. Until you learn the routine, have a friend recite the directions or listen to them on a tape, which you can prerecord yourself. Progressive muscle relaxation focuses sequentially on the major muscle groups.

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Tighten each muscle and maintain the contraction 20 seconds before slowly releasing it. As the muscle relaxes, concentrate on the release of tension and the sensation of relaxation. Start with your facial muscles, then work down the body. The entire routine should take 12 to 15 minutes.

Practice it twice daily, expecting to master the technique and experience some relief of stress in about two weeks.

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Few things are more stressful than illness. Many forms of exercise reduce stress directly, and by preventing bodily illness, exercise has extra benefits for the mind. Regular physical activity will lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, and reduce your blood sugar. Exercise cuts the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, colon and breast cancers, osteoporosis and fractures, obesity, depression, and even dementia memory loss.

Exercise slows the aging process, increases energy, and prolongs life.