Stress, in addition to being itself and the result of itself,

is also the cause of itself.”

–Hans Selye

Stress. It happens to everyone at some time or another. We get stressed about our work, our relationships, our finances, kids, health and homes. I’ve yet to meet anyone who leads a completely charmed life and never experiences any stress. However, in the last six months, I’ve seen the stress levels in clients, friends and business associates escalate to new heights. I don’t need to point at the troubled global economy or job losses as a common denominator; this is not “news” to so many who have experienced the direct effects first hand. But the question is, what do we do about it? What do we say to a friend or a loved one who has lost their job? What do we say to ourselves in the darkness of the night when mounting insecurities creep in? How do we unwind, stay focused and keep going…. and maybe even relax and have a little fun along the way? The bad news is that it does take a little effort. The good news is, it’s easier than you think.

 

The first thing I’d encourage you to do is to take a little break. Give yourself some breathing room – some space to step back and gain a clearer and broader perspective. This may be an afternoon, or better yet a weekend off, and just “let the problem go.” Whatever it is that has got you so worried, will more than likely wait a couple of days. Put it out of your mind, but resolve to come back to it at a set day and time.

 

Once you’ve had some time off, come back to the current issue at hand, calmly, and with the intention of gaining more clarity and focus. Book some time for yourself (an hour or more) to sit down and look at all of the facts with a cool head, and clear mind. If the issue is financial, how much? How much money/assets do you have? How much do you owe? How long could you with your current course of action without dire consequences? And what could you do today, right now, to improve the situation?

 

If relationships, health or family are the issue, apply the same process. What is really and truly going on? How do you feel about it? Is the current course of action going to serve you in the long term, or do you need to make a change? And what can you do today to improve the situation?

With a clearer view, and a bit of breathing room behind you, it’s time to make a plan and take action! Focused action is always the remedy for worry and stress. It allows you to take back some control, instead of letting the situation control you.

 

So my challenge to you this week is to give yourself a break, make a plan and take action.

  – Decide what it is that is most important to you right now, and what is the next step?

  – Are there loose ends that need to be tied up, or papers and clutter to deal with?

  – Is there something that you’re avoiding doing because it’s unpleasant or uncomfortable?

  – Are you taking really good care of yourself right now – getting enough exercise, and sleep ? During times of stress, it’s more important than ever to focus on maintaining a balanced life, and protecting our health.

  – Do you need to let a few things go, have some fun, and give yourself a break?

  – Or is it time for you to get some outside help to deal with something that is beyond your scope of knowledge?

 

Stress and overwhelm are the result of feeling like we have no control over a given situation. When we feel like we have no options, we can quickly fall into anger, resignation and depression. While we can’t always control what life brings our way, we can choose how we are going to deal with it. Some choices are tougher than others, but we always have choice.

One of my favourite quotes is that “nothing very very good, or very very bad, lasts for very very long.” So take heart, this too shall pass, but in the meantime, get clear, be good to yourself, and take action!

 The first step towards the solution of any problem is optimism.

– John Baines

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“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything – whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

- Tina Turner

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