"There are two ways of meeting difficulties - You alter the difficulties, or, you alter yourself to meet them." Phyllis Bottome.
To help you calm down, feel more in control, relaxed and receptive to what we offer here we suggest you start with a few relaxation breaths. Takes just a minute and really helps. Here we go...
Take a deep, deep breath through your nose. Deeeeep - and slow - and release it gently through your pursed lips - like blowing a kiss - all the way out...
Once more - another deep, deep breath - in through your nose - count up to 8 - sit up straight so you can fill your lungs all the way to the bottom - and very slowly, very gently - out through your pursed lips as you count down from 8...
Close your eyes, relax your muscles and allow the tension to leave your body.
And one more deeeeep breath - in through your nose - and - blow kiss - out slowly and gently through your pursed lips. And relax your muscles - all over - every muscle - just relaaaax - like butter - like crusty, old snow melting on a warm, sunny day - from the tip of your head to the tip of your toes...
Feel a bit better? We hope so. Now we're ready to begin.
"Life can be a stress test," says Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts. How true! Still, we must proceed with what we must do - must handle - must cope with...
Here are some ideas to help you:
Whatever the situation is, put it into perspective. How important is this situation/crisis/moment going to be in five years? - ten years? - one year? Will you even remember this? Possibly not! On the other hand - maybe it's real important - crucial... And yet it's hard to handle - tough - maybe a bit too much at this moment...
Take out those mighty tools - a piece of paper and pencil - (ok, your computer). Start organizing some thoughts - in black and white - You'll feel more in control - it will calm you down.
A. MAKE A LIST - What has to be done? What are the tasks that are required? When? Who else could do them? DELEGATE!
B. CREATE MANAGEABLE STEPS.
Break down what has to be done into manageable steps - You'll feel better immediately. And delegate!
What's the most important thing to accomplish first? What can wait? What can be put off - or eliminated? What are the consequences of each step? Maybe not everything is a major crisis here? And be sure to delegate!
D. THINK POSITIVE. Remember that life is made up of problems, crises, difficulties, challenges, hurdles, quests. No point in getting upset. Your job in life is to work out the problems that come before you, to the best of your ability. Nobody can do more than that.
Put this positive thought into your brain by speaking these words outloud (softly): "I can handle this - and I will - one step at a time..." And proceed to do just that.
E. BORROW SOMEONE ELSE'S WISDOM. How would (insert name of brilliant, capable person you admire here) handle this? Then proceed to handle this in that person's way - if possible.
F. LEARN FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE. No matter what, if you learn from your experience, you'll come out ahead. Be sure to acknowledge to yourself what you learn from each experience and also be sure to acknowledge everything you did that was good, positive, constructive or helpful to yourself or others. You can always remind yourself: What did I do right here? - and feel good about it. It's important to do that.
Problems offer the opportunity to polish your skills at solving them - or handling them - or simply coping with the ups and downs of life.
G. REMEMBER: You can't control everything. You're only one human being. You can only do what you can do - you can't do more than that. You can only control yourself - you can't control others and you can't control most events. Events usually have a life of their own - beyond our control. So don't forget that unexpected things happen - to everyone - good things and bad things. Try to plan as best you can - but you can't plan for everything. Unexpected things do happen. It's not your fault. You're only responsible for how YOU HANDLE this stuff.
H. DROP THE SELF-PITY. Avoid wallowing in self pity: Everything always happens to me - No one's got it as bad as I do, etc. It's a waste of time and energy - and really not likely to be true at all - there are always plenty of people who've got it a lot worse than you. Think of all the disasters we've seen on the news lately - devastating earthquakes - hurricanes - volcanos - floods - war - famine - nuclear leaks - airplane crashes - the world is full of some pretty terrible catastrophes. Is the situation you're dealing with anything like any of those? Probably not. Put it into perspective...
(And don't forget to be grateful for all the blessings you've got...)
[Note: We just saw this item on CNN today: One billion people do not get enough food to eat each day. Put your problem into perspective next to that fact!]
I. GET ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET: Of course you could be dealing with a terrible situation - serious illness, for instance, in yourself or a loved one. For that kind of issue - you need all the help you can get. Be sure to get yourself just exactly that: all the help you can get: counselling, support groups, sympathetic, helpful friends - whatever will help you. This is crucial when dealing with a truly tough situation. Let's say it again: GET ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET!
J. USE THIS STATEMENT: "I can handle this - and I will - one step at a time..." Say this outloud (softly, if others are around) to yourself frequently. It's good for just about every situation and it really does help to think this way: "I can handle this - and I will - one step at a time..."
K. When you're under stress, be sure to eat healthy food - not junk food. And of course it doesn't help to take in an overdose of caffeine - and certainly not alcohol or drugs. If you've stopped smoking - GREAT! - Don't succumb to the temptation to "smoke just one..." You don't want to go that route at all!
Try to get the sleep you need - Sleep is so important when you're stressed out. And be sure to exercise. Exercise really helps the body to deal with stress. If nothing else, take a good, brisk walk from time to time. And get some fresh air.
L. One of the secrets of success in life, we believe, is having an effective support system. This could be your spouse, your mother, your best friend, your cousin, your roomate, your neighbor, your church group, your therapist - or all of the above - whoever is a good listener and supporter of you and your goals. You want to carefully nurture that relationship so it will be there for you when you need it - like when you're under the gun and triple stressed out.
M. DON'T FORGET TO SMELL THE ROSES
As we rush onward, forward, ever striving to accomplish all that we wish to, want to, need to accomplish, be sure to remember to take a moment, here and there, just to marvel at life and the beauty around us - and the pleasure in a child's laughter or anyone else's smile.
Here's a short poem by W.H. Davies to remind you:
What is this life, if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare,
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
MORE HELP: There's lots more help in our other segments - from calming teas to aromatherapy baths, from positive affirmations to prayer - as well as more detailed help with worries and problems, grieving and depression. Select a navigation bar to the left of the screen for help with topics of special interest to you....
Don't forget your Relaxation Breathing - It helps...
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Good luck! And sweet dreams...
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