from Stress Free for Good
Ten Skills to alleviate the physical
and emotional dangers of stress
These ten accessible and easy-to-use skills are scientifically proven to
alleviate the physical and emotional dangers of stress, anxiety and
chronic pain. Each chapter of Stress Free for Good will focus on one of these
skills, and will include scientific studies and statistics as well as actual
stories that show these skills in action.
- Belly Breathing: Breathing slowly and deeply into and out of your
belly is a signal to your mind and body to let go of stress and improve
your health and happiness.
PRACTICE: As you inhale imagine that your belly is a big balloon and
you are slowly filling it up with air. Place your hands on your belly
while you slowly inhale. As you exhale make sure your belly stays relaxed.
Take at least 2-3 more slow and deep breaths, making sure to keep your
attention on the rise and fall of your belly.
- When you feel angry
- Before getting on an airplane if you are nervous
- To pause and think before you may say something you might later regret
- To help you fall asleep
- Whenever you notice your breathing is shallow, rapid, tight or tense.
- Appreciation: Appreciating other people, the beauty of nature, and
the joys of everyday life may be the simplest and most immediate
way to create both health and happiness.
PRACTICE: Before you begin your day's activities, review
the things you need to get done during the day. Include on your list two
things you promise to be thankful for. Take two slow deep belly breaths.
When inhaling for your third breath think deeply about someone you love,
a beautiful place, or an act of kindness done for you.
- When stress and difficulties pile up
- When there is just too much to do
- When you have to make a decision
- Before making an important phone call
- When you feel unappreciated
- Talking with a child, spouse or parent to remember how much they mean
- Tense to Relax: When you tense your muscles, letting go
allows you to relax deeply.
PRACTICE: Take 2 slow full deep belly
breaths. On the 3rd inhalation, tighten your right arm from your
shoulders to your hands. Hold tightly for 2-3 seconds. As you exhale,
relax fully and let your arm drop. Repeat with your other arm, each
leg and then your entire body. As you practice say to yourself something
relaxing such as, "I have all the time in
the world" or "I am relaxed and at peace."
- Before going to bed
- To feel alert when you awaken in the morning
- Before physical exercise
- When your neck and/or shoulders are tight
- When sitting at your desk
- When stuck in traffic
- When sitting on an airplane
- Visualize Success: Research shows us that when we picture ourselves being
successful, accomplishing our goals and dreams is more likely.
PRACTICE: Think of some part of your life at which you are not successful.
Take 3 slow, deep, full, belly breaths. Picture in your mind succeeding at
your chosen activity. Describe to yourself what the successful picture showed
you about how to succeed. Think about how success was different from the
things you usually do. Now plan how you can put into practice what you saw.
- Before going into an important meeting
- When asking your boss for a raise or promotion
- Before an important conversation with a friend, family member or colleague
- Visualize the perfect golf swing or tennis return
- See yourself as succeeding as you diet or change exercise patterns
- When in a conflict picture a "win, win" outcome
- Slow Down: Slowing down and being more focused on what you are doing
is one of the most effective ways to manage stress and manifest both health
PRACTICE: Do a common activity slowly, carefully and with focused attention.
Start by taking a couple of slow and deep belly breaths, then pay close attention
to how good something smells—for example, a rose or some food. Notice
carefully how beautiful something looks. Look carefully at every aspect of
something. Drink in wonderful tastes, colors, shapes and textures. Finally,
when you are rushed and in a hurry, tell yourself: "I have all the time
that I need."
- Waiting in line in a grocery store or airline security area
- When rushing to an appointment
- When you feel rushed driving
- When drinking wine.. .really taste the flavor
- When you feel impatient
- When you feel bored
- When making dinner for friends, family or oneself
- Appreciate You: Learning to appreciate your own worth and value
is not an indulgence, it is seeing clearly your own unique character and
PRACTICE: Reflect back on your day. Think of one or two things that
you did that were helpful or that you were good at. Appreciate yourself for
your talents and willingness to help. Realize that offering kindness, help
and support are all positive choices that you make. Even little things need
to get done. You could have blown them off.
- When you feel inferior at a social or business meeting
- At the end of the day when you wonder what you accomplished all day
- When you feel your abilities are not being appreciated at work
- When you feel overlooked by others
- When doing a hobby
- When caring for your children
- Smile Because You Care: When we smile, our bodies and minds move into
a healing state of peace and well being.
PRACTICE: Reflect back on your day. Take a couple of slow, deep, breaths.
Think of some tasks or chores that you did today. Ask yourself why you do
these things. Remember you did it because you cared and smile. Think about
how much you care about the people you do things for and smile. Feel your
experience of love and care and let it warm the area around your heart and
- You feel discouraged
- When feeling over worked
- When doing routine things like laundry or cooking or mowing the lawn
- When down in the dumps
- When you are being photographed
- Stop Doing What Does Not Work: When what you are doing is not working
calm down and find a better solution.
PRACTICE: When faced with a difficult challenge, shift your attention
fully to your belly. Take at least two full, slow, deep, breaths into and
out of your belly. Then fill your mind with an image of someone you love.
Hold the positive feelings that emerge in the area around your heart. Ask
yourself if the way you have handled the problem so far has worked. If it
hasn't, ask the calmer part of you for a new solution to the problem.
- When you are frustrated
- When you feel you have tried everything
- When you are bored with your life
- When people say you need to change
- When you are judging yourself harshly for a failure
- When you have a bad habit
- Just Say No: Just saying "No" is a way to set limits, be assertive
without being angry, and to communicate what you do and do not want to do
to yourself and to others.
When someone asks you to do something you don't want to do, take 2—3
full, slow and deep, belly breaths. Then say "I need a few moments to
think about this. Can I get back to you in a little while?" When you
offer your response, choose one of the following: "I have thought about
this, and unfortunately I'm not going to be able to help you out this time.
I realize this may be disappointing to you, but this is what I have decided." Or "I'm
not going to be able to help you out in the way you asked; maybe together
we can come up with solution that works for us both."
- When you are asked to take on extra work again
- When you are asked to help out again in your family
- When you need to resist the bad habits of peers
- When sales people are pushing you
- When a friend wants to come over and you are exhausted
- Serenity: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
PRACTICE: Have you ever been in the car when there is a huge accident
on the road and the traffic is backed up? Was there anything you could have
done to change the fact that you had to sit in the car and wait for the traffic
to clear? When you are in a situation like this, it is important to recognize
that you have choices in the way that you deal with it. In some cases you
may be able to take another route. In other cases you may be stuck with no
way out and you have no choice but to wait for the traffic to clear—this
might be a time when you need the serenity to accept that you can do nothing
to change the traffic. Instead, take two slow deep belly breaths and think
of something beautiful in your life. Remind yourself, "I need serenity
and wisdom.. .not anger." Ask yourself, "If I can't change this
situation, what can I do to make peace with it?"
- You find yourself getting frustrated by a situation that won't go
- You find yourself getting frustrated by a friend or family member's
- When you have a financial setback
- If you do not get the promotion you feel you deserve
- Coping with chronic illness
- Changing circumstances in your life such as retirement or moving
- When someone dies
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