Five Ways to Control Your Stress: Part 1 out of 2

Stress is like dark, dark chocolate. A little of it won’t entirely kill you (hopefully!). In fact, small chunks of it here and there can be good for you, or at least give you a reason to get of bed in the morning.

But chronic and severe stress overall can damage your body and mind, blocking the fluid communication to and from most organs — especially in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and in the limbic system, the brain’s emotional center. Believe me, you want these two systems–much like the House and Senate — running as smoothly as possible, with low levels of the delinquent stress hormones in your bloodstream.

Which is why I have handy some tress busters. I use an average of five a day. Today, in this first half, I’m sharing 5 of them with you. Here they are, and good luck!

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Photos:Mystresses

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1. Simplify

Cut your to-do list in half. How? Ask yourself this question after every item: Will I die tomorrow if this doesn’t get accomplished? I’m guessing you’ll get a lot of no’s. I’m sure Franklin Covey has a more efficient and elaborates system. But here’s mine: Every morning I immediately jot down my to-do list. Once I experience the first heart palpitation, the list gets cut in half.

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29″ Club Cardio Adjust Exercise Stepper

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2. Prioritize

Let’s say you’ve got five huge work projects due next week, two Cub Scout commitments you promised your son, your mom’s overdue taxes on your desk, your wife’s 40th birthday celebration to plan, and your sister’s computer to fix. What do you do? You record all the tasks on a sheet of paper or on your computer and you give each one a number between 1 and 10: 10 being the most important (life threatening) to one (stupid bloody thing I signed up for). Start with the 10s. If you never get beyond the 8s, that’s okay!

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23″ Strength Exercise Yoga Balance Ball w/ Pump

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3. Use Pencil, not Pen

If you rely on your to-do list as much as I do, then you’ll want to start using pencil instead of pen. Because one important stress buster is to try to stay as flexible as you can. Things change! And change is not our enemy, even though our brain categorizes it as such. You want to be able to erase a task or reminder at any time, because who the heck knows what your day will be like.

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Folding Weight Bench Adjustable Sit-up Board Workout Slant Bench

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4. Give Away your Cape

If you haven’t already guessed by now, you are not a superpower and don’t possess supernatural qualities and capabilities. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to join the race… the human race. Which means surrendering to limitations and conditions–like the number of hours in a day (24) and the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B. In your car. Not in your bat mobile.

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Indoor Workout LCD Display Cycling Exercise Fitness Cardio Bike

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5. Collaborate and cooperate.

There are lots of people out there with to-do lists that look very similar to yours. Why not let them do some of your tasks so that you all don’t have to do them? The moms around me have mastered this concept, as they have set up a babysitting co-op: one mom volunteers to watches a neighbor’s kid and by doing so earns babysitting points that she can redeem when a neighbor watches her kids. In the blogging world, I have begun to collaborate with some other mental-health writers so that we all don’t have to scan the same media outlets for depression-related stories. If I catch something, I send it to them, and vice versa. It’s an effective system.

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2.25 HP Folding Electric Treadmill Motorized Power Running Machine

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