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Ada Porat, Ph.D. View Entire Blog

Three Strategies to Cope with Stress

7/29/2013
Stress is an inevitable byproduct of modern life, and it is compounded by the fact that most of us have too much to do and too little free time.

Are you getting seven hours of free time a day? According to new research from Direct Line Insurance, seven hours - or six hours 59 minutes to be precise - is the minimum we need for perfect work/life balance. The reality, of course, is a different matter. On average, we tend to only get around four free hours daily due to time pressures at work and home.

Work and free time used to coexist in a state of relative equilibrium up until 1995 -- around the time that personal computer use really took off. Since then, the optimal balance between work and play has steadily been deteriorating because of longer work hours, increased accessibility of wireless phone and networks, and the resulting stream of 24/7 demands.

Quite frankly, stress is a killer. It is responsible for 40% of work-related illnesses. A large international study recently found that stress can increase the likelihood of a heart attack by almost 50%. Stress has also been implicated in a host of health problems including back pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, migraine, asthma, digestive problems, infertility and allergies.

Moreover, scientists found that an individual is affected as much by their perception of stress as by the actual levels of stress they experience. In other words, stress triggers the body's physiological fight or flight response, whether the stress is an actual reality or simply something you think about as bad.

In fact, most of our mental or emotional stress is caused by our resistance to what's happening or to the situation we're in. Our bodies interpret resistance as stress.

Everyone deals with stress; yet you can learn to cope better by learning three important skills: how to adjust your attitude, practice proper self-care and set healthy boundaries.

Adjust Your Attitude

If you expect life to show up in the way that you want, your day can be filled with frustration and stress.

If, on the other hand, you recognize that you do not have absolute control over what shows up in your day, you can let go of resisting it and focus on a more effective response: you can control your attitude and the way you respond to life.

By shifting your attitude to do what you can with what shows up instead of resisting it, you are letting go of the dissonance that causes stress.

Just think about it: today is the very future you've been worried and anxious about. Your future has shown up and you are still here, still breathing! Stressing about it did not change the course of time -- it merely added to your levels of annoyance, frustration, worry and fear. Stressing does not change the course of life; it simply makes you unhappy and causes disease.

The way I see it, tomorrow will show up anyway. You can choose to stress and worry about it, or you can choose to trust in a benevolent universe doing what it knows to do. And since stress only hurts you, you might as well choose to trust. When you accept that there is an Intelligence far greater than your own that created life and is still at the center of all that unfolds, you will experience peace of mind instead.

At times, it may appear as if your life is adrift on the stormy seas of life, and there is no land in sight. These are the times when you need to remember that the Universe knows your name. Wherever you may find yourself, you are intimately known -- and supported -- by your Creator.

The answers may not always show up in the way or at the time you expected -- just let go of resisting what shows up and let it guide you to a healthier response. The outcomes may surpass anything you'd imagined!

Once you've made an attitude adjustment, there are practical steps you can take to cope with stress. I lump them together in two categories: proper self-care and healthy boundaries.... read more at http://Blog.AdaPorat.com