Stress, we all have it. It may be from your finances, health, kids, relationships, school, travel plans, work, and so on. I definitely have stress and anxiety at times.  This ultimate cheat sheet will give you some strategies for coping with stress. These strategies use the mnemonic ABCDE (Appreciation, Breathing, Creativity, Defuse, and Exercise). Breathing and Defusing are quick easy strategies to use as needed. Appreciation, Creativity, and Exercise are strategies that need time scheduled for.   

When you feel stressed make a list of 10 things you are grateful for. Some people find volunteering and helping others increases their own appreciation for life. Others find exploring nature creates gratitude. Feeling gratitude and appreciation decreases the impact stress has on how you feel.

Aside from breathing being a life promoting function, it can also provide relaxation. To start get into a comfortable position. This position may be sitting upright in a chair or lying down on your back or side. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four (1-2-3-4). Hold your breath in for a count of two (1-2). Breathe out through your mouth with pursed lips (kiss lips) for a count of eight (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8). Hold your breath out for a count of two (1-2). Try this for five breaths. As this breathing becomes comfortable you can add words such as “inhale” and “exhale” to the 2 count pauses. (Inhale, (in) 1-2-3-4, Exhale, (out) 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8). You can also add images or thoughts to the inhaling and exhaling. I visualize water (peace) for inhaling and fire (energy) for exhaling. For more breathing techniques check out Life Emblem’s pages about pain and sleep.  

Creativity can take many forms. These include art, design, music, photography, writing, and more. Designing and writing this blog are examples of creativity forms I engage in. Another is making celebratory cards for friends and family. I also listen to music and color in adult coloring books. Taking the moment to be creative can put a spin on your stress and lead to relaxation and even excitement. Stress and excitement both elicit the same physical response, the only difference is the emotion we attach to them.

A quick method I use to defuse is 54321. Like breathing it provides your mind with a moment to relax. Defusing also gives you a focus. To start get into a comfortable position and look at an object with a soft gaze. I like to look at my ring. Identify five different things about the appearance of the object taking a breath between each thing. For example, my ring has hearts (breathe), dots (breathe), silver (breathe), thin (breathe), shines (breathe). Try not to use any judgement, such as “pretty”, “ugly”, “like”, or “dislike”. Next, identify four different sounds with a breath between each sound. For example, I hear the vent (breathe), dog bark (breathe), fan (breathe), typing (breathe). Now, identify three different things you can feel either inside your body or an object again with a breath between. I use my FidgtCube for this. For example, my FidgtCube has a switch (breathe), buttons (breathe), joystick (breathe). Next, identify two different things you can smell with a breathe between. For example, I smell vanilla (breathe), cinnamon (breathe). And finally one breath (or you can do five if you are still needing a bit more relaxation time). Although this method may sound complicated it is quick and easy to use once you have practiced it a few times.   

Exercise is great for reducing stress and increasing energy. Exercise like creativity is great because of the many different forms. Perhaps you love going to the gym and working out. Or the thought of the gym terrifies you so you do team (hockey, soccer, etc) and/ or solo (horseback riding, swimming) sports. I used to be an equestrian and jumped horses. Now I am a runner. If you are unsure what interests you then try out different classes at recreation center. There is something for everyone!   



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