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stressed man looking at bills with hands over head


  • Do you feel stress and fatigue most of the time? Or do you feel “frazzled” most of the time?
  • Are you more forgetful than usual? More irritable than you would like to be?
  • Are you having stomach problems or headaches? Does your back and/or shoulders feel tense?
  • Do you have trouble falling asleep; or waking up during the night? Are you having very bizarre dreams?

You’re buried under paperwork, are behind on bills, and your car won’t start. Murphy’s law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Rainer’s law: Murphy was an optimist. If you feel like Rainer’s law applies, please read this article.

Stress is a fact of life. We are not talking about getting rid of any emotions; instead, we are talking about how to effectively respond to them. By learning to respond to our uncomfortable emotions, like stress, we are able to turn them into useful tools that help us find what we are looking for: peacefulness, calmness, joy, etc.

A ‘Reaction’ is when you act without thinking; for example, somebody says something that you don’t like, and you say something hurtful without thinking. A ‘Response’ is when you take time to consider what you are about to say or do; using the same example, a response would mean that you first consider the impact/consequence of saying something hurtful, then decide to try another direction (ideally, one that helps the situation rather than making it worse).

Letting stress help you, not paralyze you

Since stress is inevitable, we do well when we use it to our advantage as we learn to navigate life’s ups and downs. Like other uncomfortable/undesirable states of mind, we can allow stress to be a ‘warning light’ that tells us when it’s time to take a break, slow down, take a vacation, etc. Just be sure that you know what tends to help you; if you are not sure, then counseling may be helpful for you since sometimes a neutral person can see options that you may have missed.

Stress management ideas:

  • Take a shower or bath
  • Stretch
  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Read
  • Listen to music
  • Get a massage
  • Play music
  • Play a game
  • Talk to a friend or family member
  • Take a walk in nature (or just sit in nature)
  • Drink a soothing drink (Chamomile)
  • Simply wash your face
  • Breathe in and out with a smooth rhythm (meditation)
  • Tend your garden
  • etc.