The impact of stress accumulates, and, beyond the ongoing, regular stress that comes from living in our high-impact culture, specific life events can really knock us for a loop. Even happy changes can cause bumps in the road, which we register both physically and emotionally. While we can’t eliminate stress from our lives, we can learn where our hot spots are and how to best reduce and manage the stress we do experience.
You won’t be scored at the end, but answer true or false to the following questions, and elaborate a bit on those that feel especially relevant.
T /F 1. I set the pace for the day by beginning with peaceful thinking either through reading an inspiring passage, saying a prayer or acknowledging the gift of a fresh, new day.
T /F 2. Throughout the day I live in the moment. I don’t brood about a past event or fret about the future.
T /F 3. Each day I do something physical even if it’s just a walk around the block or a 20-minute workout.
T /F 4. I eat healthfully and take the time to enjoy my meals. I set aside work, driving and other activities while I eat. No multi-tasking.
T /F 5. I think positively. I view problems as challenges and obstacles as opportunities.
T /F 6. I can say no when I need to.
T /F 7. I leave open time in my day for doing something spontaneous. Or doing nothing.
T /F 8. When I sense tension in my body, I practice progressive muscle relaxation, beginning with my face and moving down to my feet. I remember to breathe.
T /F 9. My daily “to-do” list contains only what can be accomplished in a day—even if it’s only part of a larger project.
T /F 10. I am willing to settle for “good enough.” I don’t make constant demands on myself to have the “-est” of anything (cleanest house, finest yard, best meals).
T /F 11. Throughout the day, I create peaceful images in my mind where I can retreat for a moment to rest and refill. A sunlit beach, a shady forest, a quiet stream.
T /F 12. When I am aware of feelings of anger, irritability, cynicism beginning to build, I replace them with thoughts of peace, hope, patience, joy.
T /F 13. I use my time and energy to make changes where I can and accept the things I cannot change.
T /F 14. When I am able, I plan events that I know will cause stress (moving, giving a party, buying a new car) around times when less is going on (a quiet time at work, no pressing deadlines, no holidays in sight, etc.).
T /F 15. I use a journal not just to write about stressful events and problems, but to express my thoughts and feelings.
T /F 16. I plan time off regularly. One day a month, just for me. A weekend away. A long vacation.
T /F 17. I talk to my friends and family about what’s going on with me, and when I need to, I seek guidance and counseling from professionals.
If you’re going through an especially stressful time or experiencing difficulty dealing with stress in your life, don’t hesitate to ask for help.