As Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaches, many of us find the stress of commitments and activities can become overwhelming. Here are five steps you can take to ease your stress.
- Relive the events of the day quickly as you lie in bed at night. If there were instances where you expressed any anger, bitterness, ill will, hatred, or other negative feelings (verbally, or even if you just had these type thoughts), visualize the situation in your mind and picture yourself handling the situation in a positive manner. After doing this for several weeks, you will gradually begin to automatically handle real-life situations in a positive manner. This review serves a second important purpose: Mentally “transforming” the negative attitudes and feelings will allow only positive and constructive thoughts to flourish in your subconscious mind.
- Forgive both yourself and others. Regardless of how guilty you might feel for a past action, you must come to grips with it. Forgive yourself for those actions and the losses that resulted. Move on, knowing that you are making changes and will become more positive as a result of those past experiences. Forgiving others begins with truth. Recognize the fact you’ve been hurt, experience the sadness, and above all relate this (honestly, without bitterness) to the person who hurt you. Being totally honest is the only way to allow for forgiveness and start the healing process.
- Give thanks for all of the wonderful things in your life. If you can’t find anything at first, keep looking. If nothing else, you should feel extremely positive that you’re going through this process to make things better from this moment forward.
- Relax and get rid of the physical stresses that have accumulated during the day. There are numerous relaxation procedures, but this one is particularly effective and easy to learn: Start by lying flat on your back with a pillow to support your neck and head and with your hands at your sides. Beginning with your toes, first tense the muscles then allow them to relax completely. From there move to your feet, lower legs, thighs, etc., until you finish with the neck and head area. Don’t leave any area until it is totally relaxed.
- Imagine your entire body encompassed by a bright white light. Next, picture yourself as you would like to be. For example, you might see yourself as extremely happy and healthy enjoying a walk on a beautiful spring morning. Picture situations with loved ones or friends in the surroundings you would like to experience. (It’s perfectly fine to picture others with you; just make sure you don’t visualize yourself controlling them or their actions.) Visualization can be a very powerful and positive tool when used properly. The key is to use your imagination not only to “see” circumstances you would like to occur, but also to develop the ability to imagine how to touch, feel, smell, and even taste those situations. In other words, when you picture yourself in a positive situation imagine the input you’d be receiving from your other senses. The more detailed your visualization can become the more powerful a tool it will be.
Visualization may seem strange to some people, but each of us use it every day in the form of imagination and daydreaming. With a little effort and practice you can now make the most of it.
Now it's your turn: What are some healthy ways that you reduce stress?