Six Steps To Surviving Stress
Whether the economy goes up or down, it looks like stress is here to stay. In addition to putting a strain on your body, one of the many side effects of protracted stress can be diminished self-esteem. It may be subtle, but feeling overwhelmed by responsibility erodes our ability to love ourselves.
How does this happen? As we become more and more focused on what we're doing, we forget how to just 'be.' It's when we are "being" that we commune with our deepest sense of self and remember our best qualities.
Here's a checklist to see if your stress level is affecting your self-esteem:
- Do you end each day thinking about all the mistakes you made that day?
- Do you think negative thoughts about yourself?
- Are you finding it increasingly difficult to express yourself clearly?
- Do you feel that no matter how much you do, it's never quite enough?
- Do you feel guilty because you crave time for yourself and there are so many other things to do?
- Are financial worries making you question the value of everything you do?
Don't panic! Many people are feeling these same feelings, so you know you're not alone. But you can be more proactive with this simple six-step program. You may want to call it, "Recommitting to My Self-Esteem."
- For at least 15 minutes every day, I will sit quietly in my favorite chair, the tub or Jacuzzi, under a tree, or anywhere I feel the most comfortable. I will alert family members not to disturb me because this is officially "my time." In this alone place I will think, write or meditate on my good qualities as well as areas that require some attention. I'll take the time to praise myself where I excel, and be patient with myself regarding weaker points. This will help me to get comfortable with taking care of myself.
- Each morning I will focus on one of my good qualities and on one area of weakness. Then throughout the day I'll be aware of expressing the good quality and improving the weak one. This will help turn my focus inward instead of in a constant outward direction.
- At least once a month, I will take a risk by doing something that feels difficult to do, such as asking for a raise, talking to my mother-in-law about her bossiness or confronting a friend who's disappointed me. This will remind me that I am not just a workhorse, but a person who can make positive, forward-moving changes in life, while getting daily tasks done.
- I will require that the people in my life be accountable for their share of responsibilities. I will also say no to assuming more than I can truly handle. This will remind me of the importance of setting clear and healthy boundaries.
- I will eat healthy foods, exercise at least several times per week and love my body, even with its imperfections. This will remind me that I am a spiritual being inhabiting a human body, and that material gains and losses mean nothing in the long run.
- I will do what I feel passionate about, whether it's riding a motorcycle, painting pictures, walking in the woods, or whatever makes me feel alive. Woven into each day's activities will be a renewed awareness of those things that feed my soul, and I will pursue those interests for at least two hours every week. This will remind me that I deserve only the best life has to offer.
Even if stress is here to stay, it doesn't have to be the enemy. Remember, no matter what's happening to your bank account, you still deserve to feel good and enjoy life.
Another thought–In my Movement Therapy classes, I teach people how to release stress through body movements. Movement Therapy is a great way to have mind/body integration and a positive body image. My work as a coach allows me to blend coaching and movement to help people be happy and whole. It's the 'how to' for feeling happy!
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