Life Times Newsletter

Spring 2009
Vol. 11, No. 2


How to de-stress in changing times


Maudie Kelly, MS
Human Development Specialist

I’ve been hearing many people talk about the stress in their lives related to family, job, finances, etc. Recently I saw an article by Doc Childre on the Internet that addresses this issue and will share some of his points.

We seem to be in a period of rapidly changing times, which can make personal challenges even more difficult. It is not uncommon for us to become overwhelmed with stress, which then limits our capacity to cope. It may be a lengthy process to figure out how to reduce stress, but it is important for us to stay as physically and emotionally healthy as possible while we navigate through these difficult challenges.

Several practices can help us reduce stress and move forward as we deal with stressful issues.


· Communicate and interact with others. Share your feelings with someone, or even a group of people, who are going through similar experiences. Whether you are crying or laughing together, collective support can help lift your spirits, which in turn can release stress buildup.

· Open your heart. When in crisis, it is normal for people to “shut down” their heart feelings due to thoughts of shock, anger, fear and despair. While this is understandable, it is also important to have compassion for yourself. Try to reopen your heart feelings. One way might be to offer kindness and support to others in need. Even small acts of kindness and compassion can help you reestablish your footing and reduce stress that can affect your health. Much stress can be reduced by caring for and interacting with others.

· Express appreciation and gratitude. Every day, send genuine feelings of appreciation to someone or something—children, family members, pets or others.  The practice of appreciation and gratitude has been proven to help people reconnect with
feelings of hope.

· Practice heart-focused breathing. Breathe while imagining your breath passing in and out through your heart area or the center of your chest. Envision yourself as taking time to refuel your system by breathing in an attitude of calm and balance. At other times, you may substitute with breathing the feeling of appreciation, compassion, or any other positive feeling you may choose. This can be done in a quiet place or while walking, jogging or eventually in a conversation with others.  This technique is being taught throughout the world and can be very helpful in reducing anxiety and anger.

· Get plenty of sleep. Stress can make it harder to sleep, but sleep is especially important in times of crisis. Get what sleep you can. Try not to overdramatize your concerns about it, which can only make it worse. Breathing an attitude of calm and relaxation for five minutes or so before bed has helped many people get more restful sleep. While some people may require sleep medications in certain situations, others may tend to overmedicate in the pursuit of quick fixes. Check out alternative methods in case something simple helps.

· Exercise regularly. People often don’t want to exercise when feeling stressed. Yet exercise can help clear the fog and tension accumulated from anxiety, anger and worry. Exercise won’t take away your reasons for getting stressed, but it strengthens your capacity to manage it.

· Don’t blame yourself. It doesn’t help to replay thoughts of things you could have done differently. We all have been caught off guard by unexpected changes. Moving forward is easier without carrying baggage about what you could have or should have done. Be easy on yourself.


 Source:  Children, Doc. De-Stress Kit for the Changing Times. Available free of charge at Institute of HeartMath Website,


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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller