by stresswinner on February 2, 2010

“People waste more time waiting for someone to take  charge of their lives than they do in any other pursuit.” – Gloria Steinem
There are  two kinds of people in the world:   those whose moods  and actions depend mainly  on what happens   to them, and  those who take responsibility  for  how they  feel,  regardless of events.  Responsibility  simply means the ability to make a response.
First, without taking  unreasonable  blame,   try  asking  what  role you might have played in creating any stressful situation.   Are you blaming anyone for your problems, or making others responsible for the way you feel?
Stresses like traffic jams  or  lack of money   cause  people to respond in very  different ways.  And individuals may not always  respond  the same way to the same thing .  But our  reaction to any  stress  is  our choice – and  we can keep on changing  what we do  until we feel  physically and  mentally  healthy.    Regardless of what we face,  each day we can  choose our food,  decide to exercise, and select either  positive or negative things to say ourselves,. We might  even choose to be happy!
Unfortunately it’s not  quite  that simple because human  minds have different ‘parts’ that give out  different messages.  When we’re stressed,  a panicky voice may say: “That’s terrible” – whereas a more mature one might say: “Well, that’s inconvenient” or “It’s too bad”.    Our  ‘Awfulizer’ – describes things as hopeless, or  worse than they are;  our  ‘Critic’  will judge  us harshly like an insensitive parent and our  ‘Addict’  part  justifies  negative or harmful habits.
If you’re  aware of these stress-producing  voices,  you can replace them with   realistic but positive ones , supporting  you  and helping you find  solutions.
Remember a frightening dream you had?  How did you feel when you woke up – were you still a bit scared?  Did you yell out in your sleep, or wake up sweating, your heart pounding?   The threat you felt wasn’t real, but your body acted as if it was, and did the same things that it would have if you really were in a dangerous situation!
Always keep in mind that your ‘stress load’  is very much influenced by what you think  about any situation. Convince yourself  that something is  ‘terrible’  or  ‘awful’ – then it will be. But  describe it as ‘challenging’ ‘interesting’ or at worst ‘too bad’, then it will be that  too.
Managing stress – in a nutshell – means  knowing your own symptoms of stress, selecting your attitude, having  lots of skills  and supports  available and  selecting  the best one for each situation.    It’s like having a mental ‘tool kit’ for stress.  An  obnoxious relative is coming to stay?  Think ahead,  make plans for coping  successfully.  Plan to do some brisk exercise to release  tension  before they arrive. See yourself using breathing to relax your body while talking to them, focusing on the humorous aspects of their behavior and feel yourself stronger for having dealt with them.
Use your anxiety level  as a gauge of your success,  and your guide to what  you need to learn.   You  can   take charge,  and  not only ‘cope’  with stress  –  but thrive on it!
“God does not ask us whether we will accept life.  That is not the choice. We must take it. The only choice is how.”

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