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It’s Your Choice – Make Stress Work For You

One of my favorite parts of my coach training was the inside out work.  There is a great amount of training with many components to it but essentially it is living your life purpose and your values from the inside out.  What goes on with you is really an inside job.  If you are stressed out, it is about your perceptions and how you process the situation and information.  So, actually, stress isn’t something that happens from the outside but really from the inside.  If you perceive it as stressful, then it is going to be pure stress.

Stress doesn’t have to be a negative thing.  Stress, in a positive way, can be motivating to you to take action and move forward in an area of life.  Stress can cause you to create something that you want.  Stress can create new and healthy habits and behaviors.  The only way to manage your stress is to empower yourself to take control of what you can control – your thoughts, actions and behaviors.  You can control your thoughts, actions and behaviors.  As difficult as weight loss is, all of us have shown that we can control our thoughts, actions and behaviors.  There is a  song by Leann Rimes called “What I Cannot Change” that talks about what she can change and what she cannot….check out the lyrics to the song and see how they resonnate with you.

“What I Cannot Change”
Many times what stresses us out are things that we cannot change or think that we can’t.  If, in fact, we can’t change it, then let it go and the stress that accompanies it.  If we can change it, go for it and use the situation to propel you forward in your life.

I know what makes me comfortable
I know what makes me tick
And when I need to get my way I know how to pour it on thick
Cream and sugar in my coffee
Right away when I awake
I face the day and pray to God I won’t make the same mistakes
Oh the rest is out of my hands

I will learn to let go what I cannot change
I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
I will learn to love what I cannot change
But I will change, I will change
Whatever I, whenever I can

I don’t know my Father
Or my Mother well enough
Seems like every time we talk we can’t get past the little stuff
The pain is self inflicted
I know it’s not good for my health
But it’s easier to please the world than it is to please myself
Oh the rest is out of my hands

I will learn to let go what I cannot change
I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
I will learn to love what I cannot change
But I will change, I will change
Whatever I, whenever I can

Right now I can’t care about how everyone else will feel
I have enough hurt of my own to heal

I will learn to let go what I cannot change
I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
I will learn to love what I cannot change
But I will change, I will change
Whatever I, whenever I can

Here are some ways for you to take charge of what you can do or think differently to deal with stress in an appropriate, positive way.

1. Out of Touch, Irrational Thinking—Many times irrational thoughts contribute to your stress levels. What are irrational thoughts?  Things like “everyone must like me for me to be worthwhile.” Or, “I have to complete everything on my ‘To Do’ list everyday in order to be a success.” Or, “I can’t let anyone in my house unless it is spotless.” Irrational thoughts are not true—that’s why they are called irrational. However, you can actually convince yourself these beliefs are true, and when you believe them your stress level can soar. For example, if you actually think the only way for you to be worthwhile is if every person you meet likes you, can you imagine the stress created trying to get everyone to like me?  Talk about an impossible goal!  Check your thinking and make sure your thoughts are rational. You may need to ask someone you trust to help you with this because if you actually believe the irrational thoughts, then you will have a difficult time recognizing they are irrational.

2. Inside Out Thinking—Instead of spending your time focused on things over which you have no control, outside your control, look at the situation and choose the response and way to handle it.  The only things you really have control over is what you do and what you think. It is impossible to bring about change in others…just as no one can change you without your willingness and consent.  You change you and they change themselves.  Make sure you take a proactive approach to life’s situations by looking at what you can do or think differently to improve the situation. This allows you to take charge and responsibility and implement an action, thought process or behavior that is best for you.  This also means no longer pointing the finger outside of you for the source of your problem or unhappiness.

3. Time Management—You have 1,440 minutes in a day.  All of us have 1,440 minutes in the day.  What do you do with that time?  Manage your time in a way that is best for you.  For some people it is on a computer, PDA or written down in a calendar, scheduler or planner.  You have the same amount of time in a day as everyone else, yet some people make more of their time.  How?  They have discovered a way to maximize their moments to get the most out of each of them. Just as in finding the weight loss, nutrition and activity plan that fits your life and works best for you, same for time management.  Find a system that works for you!

4. Jump Into The Future-Ask yourself if this situation will be as important tomorrow, next week, next month, next year or in five years.  Chances are that it won’t.  We can develop tunnel-vision when focused on a problematic situation that causes us stress.  When you put it into perspective in this way, changes are the magnitude of it will dissipate.  Know that no matter what happens that you’ll deal with it and be okay.

5. Relaxation—Do you pray, meditate, practice visualizations or affirmations, do deep breathing exercises or muscle relaxation? This is a sure way to reduce stress. When you get good at meditation and relaxation, it is something you can do in a very short period of time almost anywhere. It’s a great skill to develop and it will substantially help you manage the stress in your life.  When you feel stressed, it will be your “go to place” to gain relief from the stress.

6. Exercise—A regular exercise program can be extremely helpful in managing the negative, physical symptoms of stress. This does not have to be any strenuous exercise. It could be as simple as going for a walk but physical activity provides a release of the stored energy of stress.  The release of endorphins is a great way to reduce stress just as going for a stroll in nature or another favorite place that “takes you away.”

7. Healthy Living—There are things we consume that actually physically stress our bodies, thus also can stress us out.  If you reduce or eliminate these things from your lifestyle, you will reduce physical stress. Some things to look at in your life are drugs, alcohol, nicotine, sugar and caffeine. If you use any of these substances on a moderate or higher level, you can be creating stress for yourself.

8. Support System—Having a healthy support system will help. You need to decrease the toxic people in your life and increase the nourishing ones. Toxic people drain our energy and leave us depleted body emotionally and mentally.  We all have those who will suck the life out of us if we let them and then there are others who will support us in our time of need. Look at reducing the energy drainers and the energy givers in your life.

9. Assertiveness—Just say NO.  Develop the ability to take care of your needs without interfering with others getting their needs met. Be able to say “no” when it will best support you. You can stress yourself out when you always put other people’s needs and desires ahead of your own.  Remember when you are in a plane and at the beginning of the flight the attendant instructs us to put the oxygen mask on ourself first.  Same thinking here……take care of yourself first so you can be at your best to help others.

10. Spirituality—Honor your personal sense of your spirituality. This does not necessarily have to be religion. It can be a calm, a peace, a sense of the order of life. When things get stressful, you can rely on your spirituality to help you through. You may develop beliefs about everything happening for a reason, God, Higher Power or another higher purpose will take care of things or there are always positive experiences with the negative. Spirituality can help you make sense of things that otherwise wouldn’t make sense.

Stress is not inevitable. You definitely do NOT have to be a victim of it. Know that you are choosing it or NOT choosing it. Ask what yourself what the payoff is to be stressed out.  When you know that negative or positive choice, and that you can make it work for you rather than against you, you’ll be able to manage your stress.

It is YOUR choice!

Believe In Yourself,
Certified Life Coach, Weight Loss Surgery Coach
Certified Back On Track Facilitator

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