Combating Stress  
7 Ways to Stop Stress Now
By Sally Hammond

Someone once said, "The only difference between a diamond and a lump of coal is that the diamond had more pressure put on it." If that were the case, we should all be shining brightly by now.

Sure, stress can motivate us to get things done that's the upside. The downside can be really ugly. Stress, according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, can sometimes lead to physical problems, such as high blood pressure, and accelerate some effects of aging. And we all know stress may contribute to emotional upheaval irritability, anger, even depression.

Here are seven easy strategies one for each day of the week to help you meet stress head-on and conquer it:

  1. Breathe. Yes! It's that simple. Breathe deeply, but don't hyperventilate. Inhale as though you were sniffing a delightful scent. Then stre-e-e-tch your arms high over your head as you slowly and completely exhale.
  2. Set boundaries. Just like the stressed-out mom who sat in the playpen to keep away from the children, you can erect some barriers. Decide what you will do and when. Better still, decide what you won't do and dare to say "no." Try to avoid anything, and anyone, who wastes your time.
  3. Clarify your goals. Decide exactly what needs to be done, and plan a smart way of accomplishing each task. Oh, and give yourself a big tick on the calendar every time you achieve even one of your goals, no matter how small.
  4. Put yourself first. That's right! If you aren't functioning at your peak, your work and your relationships will suffer. Find time for yourself, and try to do at least one relaxing thing each day: Take a bubble bath, or read a chapter of a favorite book.
  5. Give yourself a break. It's okay to goof off, cancel a lunch date, or miss a deadline now and then. In six months or 10 years, who will remember?
  6. Get spiritual. Get in touch with your spiritual values, and align your plans and activities with them. For instance, read an inspiring book, then figure out how to incorporate what you learned into your day-to-day life.
  7. Take five. Right now stop what you are doing to cherish the moment. Savor whatever you're drinking or eating. Or go outside and smell the air, the flowers and the trees. Feel the wind, sunshine or rain on your face. Listen for tiny sounds. Take a moment every day to marvel at the wonders all around you.

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