The Stress-Free Life09.26.11
Many times it feels as if stress is difficult to avoid, especially as we take on more and more obligations and roles. You’re a mom. You’re a wife. You’re the best employee the company has ever seen, even though your boss may not realize it yet. And with all of that on your plate, we recognize it’s hard to keep all of the parts in your life moving in the right direction. With so many challenges, Cotton Candy contributor and New York City therapist Irina Firstein tells us how to we can live a happy, stress-free life.
Let By Gones Be Gones
Stress causes agitation in the mind, or sometimes the other way around. In order to calm the mind, it is necessary to notice and understand the nature of your thoughts. Oftentimes, they are negative and filled with worry or fear. It is important to notice thoughts, to distance from them and to try to let them go. Remember negative thoughts are not necessarily a representation of reality; it may just the way you are processing and dealing with what’s going on in your life. Watch to make sure that your reaction doesn’t come from what has happened in your past. Your stress levels may be elevated from a previous experience that actually has nothing to do with the situation at hand. Try to let these thoughts go, and instead replace them with more open and less fear-driven thoughts. It’s much better both for managing stress and creates better resolution.
Remember Less Is More
It is also a good idea to have fewer thoughts. You really can intentionally have fewer thoughts by focusing on other things – music, strenuous physical activity, perhaps even focusing on breathing and nothing else. This takes a lot of practice. Learning to meditate can be very helpful, and the success of meditation and yoga as coping mechanisms have become ultra popular over the last decade.
Talk It Out
Talk about things that are stressing you out and how you are feeling. Tell people who care about you, love you and can offer you helpful feedback. Nothing beats stress as much as connecting with another person who can express compassion and concern. Incessantly talking to the wrong person can actually make you feel more empty and alone, so make sure it’s someone you can trust and who cares.
Get Some Zzzz….
Do whatever you can to get a lot of sleep. Even if you have to consult a doctor or drink something herbal. Sleep heals and regenerates you. It is the bedrock of mental and physical health.
Try to do as many things as you can that are truly fun and nurturing. If you love listening to a piece of music, see a good film, eat a particular meal, go dancing or whatever it takes. If you have a favorite place that you associate with feeling calm and peaceful, like a beach or a mountain top, go there and stay there as long as you can.
Solicit Professional Advice
If none of these things makes you feel better after a reasonable period of time, seek professional help. Talk to a good therapist, and she may consider giving you medicine to calm your nervous system. There are different options, depending on the issues and your history.
Written by: Irina Firstein, LCSW
Irina Firstein is a relationship therapist in New York City. She has practiced in Midtown Manhattan for more than 20 years. She works with individuals and couples.