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Four Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Life

(Why Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell Us?)

 

By Rachel Factor, LCSW

  1. It is important to understand that it is not the events in our life that cause stress but our thoughts about it. Once we can accept that it is simply our thoughts aggravating us, the challenging situation becomes manageable. We can move from, “Why is this happening to us?” to “What can I do about it?”

Shayna was up all night with her baby. When morning came, she felt that she was in no shape to deliver her presentation at work. She was feeling frustrated and upset. It would have helped Shayna if she could have accepted the tired feeling and done the best she could with it. We don’t always get to choose the state we will be in. Shayna also created a story in her head that if she wasn’t so tired, everything would have gone well. But now, because she was so tired, nothing would go well.

Even if Shayna’s presentation didn’t go well, would it be a total failure or would it just not be great? Most importantly, Shayna needed to accept herself and realize that her true worth did not lie in the success of her presentation.

 

  1. Stop trying to control everything. Be open to the idea that if things are not going the way you want, maybe that’s okay too. We like to feel that we are in total control and that everything should go our way. As result, we end up getting in our own way much of the time and tripping over our own two feet. When people learn to “Let Go and Let G-d,” they see amazing things happen in their lives.

Chezki was having one of those days. The car stalled and he missed an important meeting at the office. Then, his son’s rebbe called and said they had some serious stuff to talk about. Interestingly enough, Chezki remained calm. He problem-solved each situation to the best of his ability. He could have stressed about the stalled car but it wouldn’t have gotten him to work any faster. He could have created stories about what his son’s rebbe was going to tell him but in all likelihood he probably wouldn’t have guessed correctly. He would find a way to cope with whatever the situation was. He knew that he was not running the show and even suspected that it might be better that way.

 

  1. When you are struggling to make a decision or come up with an idea, don’t think long and hard about it. We often spend hours weighing pros and cons and getting nowhere. The harder we try to come up with something, the further away the answers seem to be. If a decision isn’t clear, leave it, if possible. Once the pressure is relieved, the creativity can be restored and you’ll likely know what to do.

Malka was agonizing over which school to send her son to for the upcoming year. Each time Malka would review the situation from a different angle and get nowhere. Finally, Malka was advised to take a break from thinking about it. When the thoughts came up, she gently brought herself back to where she was. Eventually her thoughts quieted down and it became clear to her what she wanted to do.

 

  1. Live in the now. The past is behind us; the future is not yet here. All we really have is the present. Many of us live inside our heads, engrossed in our thoughts and we simply miss the life that is occurring around us. Notice the colors, the scents, the warmth of the sun shining on us. Notice what is going on around us. It’s always remarkable to watch a young child on a walk stop and become delighted in nature and his surroundings.

Living in the now is also about appreciating each part of our life journey. Sometimes we are so focused on our goals that we forget that each step along the way is valuable. Yair and Gila had a nine-year-old son, Chaim, who learned in a special education class. They were told that it was reasonable that they would be able to mainstream Chaim at some point. Yair and Gila were so focused on the bigger goal for Chaim that they failed to appreciate each small step that he took. It’s nice to have a goal as long as it doesn’t blind us to the gift that is the present.

Wishing everyone a Happy and stress-free Purim!!

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