REDUCING STRESS THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS: It’s that time of year, a lot of hustle and bustle, increased expectations/obligations and decreased time to deal with them. There are many hints for saving money, saving time etc. Almost every magazine with a December issue has at least one such article, so I won’t go into that here. While we may or may not have control over situations that cause us stress, we DO have control over the degree to which we let these situations stress us out. My favorite illustration of this point is a quote by Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In these choices lie our growth and our happiness.”

This week’s tip is to recognize that space, own that space and with practice, stretch that space. The next time you feel yourself getting stressed (you’re in line, been in line for 20 minutes already, the person in front of you is counting out the $27.13 needed to pay ….. in coins …… in PENNIES …. the clerk is surly ….. ) Stop. Breathe. Feel where you are holding your stress. Relax where ever you are aware of tension. Unclench your teeth, pull your shoulders down from your ears, unclench your fists ….. Smile. Will it make the lines move any faster? No. Will smiling make the clerk less surly? Possibly, but that’s musings for another week. What it will do is limit how the situation is affecting you, reducing the impact on your blood pressure, muscle tension and anxiety. With awareness of your body and that space between stimulus and response you can remain calm and stress free.