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How to Cope

Our Stressful Lives and How to Cope | Written By: Peggy Gaines, RN

In our modern world, stress takes a toll on everybody. The truth is, stress has always been part of the human experience: going to work, dealing with family, keeping food on the table – that’s nothing new. What is new is the pervasive technology that shapes our lives more and more by the day.

It’s wonderful that I can pick up my phone at any moment and exchange a message with a loved family member across the country.

It’s not so wonderful when my phone alerts me of incoming work-related emails on Sunday mornings or when I’m notified of urgent tasks in the middle of family dinner.

Unfortunately, this constant bombardment of information keeps us in a perpetually alert state of mind. There’s never any down time; there’s no time when we’re just “unavailable.” Someone can always get ahold of us.

This heightened state of being “on call” takes a toll on our minds, our bodies, our relationships and ultimately, our happiness. My guess is that if you’ve found your way to this article, you’re having some sort of experience with this phenomenon.

Notice the Symptoms of Chronic Stress

Recently, the World Health Organization called stress “the health epidemic of the 21st century.” Why? Because the effect of prolonged stress has seriously impacted many aspects of our health.

Symptoms like headaches, indigestion, teeth grinding, back aches, poor circulation and trouble sleeping are just a few on a long list. Any of these sound familiar?

Besides general quality of life, when it comes to the workplace, employees are reporting more and more that their productivity is greatly affected by constant demands on their focus. Stress causes employees to create more errors and miss deadlines. It interferes with their ability to get along with colleagues, and there’s an increase in absenteeism as stress is the root cause of many illnesses that require time away from work.

Finding Solutions for Stress

Wouldn’t we all just love to toss our computers in the ocean and lay by the beach sipping lemonade all day? Sure! But completely ditching the things that cause stress in our lives isn’t realistic for most of us.

Sometimes, those things that cause us stress are also the things that keep our lives together. Your job keeps your family fed, clothed and safe, and it’s important to do well at work.

That said, it’s equally important that we grab hold and take care of this “stress epidemic.” We cannot let go of our self-care. After all, without our health, what do we have?

Yes, diet and exercise are vital. But there’s another leg of the stool that must be addressed: a day-to-day routine or method of dealing with stress must be integrated into every American’s life so that each individual can come out ahead.

Meditation is one way to deal with that stress. It is a practice that is manageable, very personal, and available to everyone at any point they choose.

Try This: A Quick Meditation for Right Now

Here’s something you can try right now, it will only take 60 seconds, and you don’t even have to close your eyes.

Sit where you are, right now, and become aware of your breath. Just notice the way you’re breathing, in and out, gently. If you’re not already, transition to breathing in and out through your nose. Allow yourself to focus on a spot on your desk or computer, and continue to notice your breath.

Now, take your awareness to the tip of your nose and feel the cool air as you breath in. Notice how the air warms as you breath out. If it helps, you can say to yourself, “I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out… Cool air in, warm air out.”

That’s it. Very simple and short.

When you try this exercise even for just one minute, you will feel more relaxed, centered and focused. You’ll be able to more clearly go back and continue with your day.

I recommend inserting this meditation several times through the day. Perhaps practice it a few times as you sit at your desk, and maybe when you park your car in the driveway before you go inside to greet your family in the evening.

Meditation is a wonderful tool to feel a sense of peace and stillness while you reduce stress. If you would like to learn more about how meditation can improve your life, click HERE.

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