Harried getting married? Holiday “comfort and joy” bringing discomfort and anxiety? Thoughts of your promotion making you panic?

Good stress, which happens during positive events, can be just as tough to handle as heartache when life takes a tumble. Stress is stress, and your body’s defense mechanisms can’t tell the difference. Two variables create stress: pressure and change. Pressure is a constant in our lives, and while some people thrive on it, others react with negative, fearful thoughts — even if it happens “when our ship comes in.”

Here are 6 ways to deal with stressful events:

  1. Deal only with right now. Whether buying a new home or planning a family get-together, you may have worrying thoughts of “What if?” or “Am I doing the right thing?” Forget about future events you have little control over, and focus only on today, and this minute. Dealing with each moment as it comes makes everything work out well because you’ve eliminated expectations. 
  1. Find someone you trust who will listen without necessarily offering advice. Getting it out in the open and hearing yourself discuss it helps you to recognize your feelings. Otherwise, when you’re in a state of anxiety, thoughts continue to churn around in your head. This can be especially overwhelming if you have added guilt for not being completely happy during a “happy occasion.” 
  1. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling about this moment?” and “What is important to me in this?” Examining your emotions regularly will help you to stop unconsciously escaping through TV, which leaves you with the problem afterward, or self-medicating with caffeine or comfort food. Instead, you can deal directly with these emotions and their often deeply-rooted cause. 
  1. Create balance. Stress occurs when you perceive that demands placed on you exceed your ability to cope. Take a break; give yourself permission to step away and do something else, which can provide new perspective. Find time for friends. Exercise to rid your body of potentially harmful “fight or flight” chemicals, released when you’re stressed (see # 6); a 20-minute workout gives immediate effects that last for hours. 
  1. Smile… or scream. All that energy you’re bottling up might simply be released with a gratifying scream for joy. Allow the child in you to come out and feel that pure unadulterated burst of feeling that we’re taught to suppress as adults. Smile as often as you can. Our emotions are interconnected with our facial expressions. We hold a lot of tension in our face, and smiling relieves that tension, makes us feel happy, and helps the entire body relax. 
  1. Consider herbal help. Ashwagandha is an “adaptogen” herb that helps the body to cope with change. It supports our adrenal glands, reducing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Ashwagandha helps increase mental clarity, wellbeing and resistance to fatigue.
Carol Crenna, Holistic Nutritionist


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