Stressed? Try to Look on the Bright Side

Tips for managing stress, and looking on the bright side.

Woman to Women

Looking for the Brighter Side

Coping strategies for these stressful times

-Mary Beth Sammons

woman looking stressedWe all have problems! But lately doesn’t it seem like all you hear from everyone around you sounds like a “Debbie Downer” skit from SNL? I mean, really, just listen to people.

Yesterday I ran into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in months, and I asked how she was doing. Her answer: “Well, at least I have a job,” was the response from my friend who has been gainfully employed for the last 20 years as an executive of a mid-sized company and seems to be the least likely of anyone I know to get the job boot. On that bright note, she added: “I guess that is good, but my IRA is shot.” Later, as I was whipping through the checkout at Trader Joe’s, the clerk gave me a compliment, saying I look so healthy. I said “Thank you” – only to have her regale a host of her own woes, from needing knee surgery to her recent relationship breakup. I felt drained just listening to this stranger. Another friend left a voice mail, saying “Do you believe how yucky the weather is today?”

“Stop!!! Stop!!!” I want to scream. I hate to sound like Pollyanna, and certainly I have a litany of life stressors to keep me feeling anxious and bummed out around the clock. But I’m one to think it’s always better to look on the bright side. So I was thrilled to see that the Chicago Tribune‘s new “Smart: Faster. Cheaper. Better” section editors are on the same page with me. Here are some coping strategies they’ve come up with for anxious times, along with some I found on a Web site called and a couple of my own ideas about looking on the bright side.

Shut out the noise. Every once in a while I have to step back and get a different perspective. That’s when I know it is time to shut out the toxic noise of naysayers. Run. Hide. And don’t turn on the news and for a moment think that maybe you should listen to what everyone is saying about the doom and gloom.

Stay positive. Before you even get out of bed, start the day by putting yourself into a positive mind-set. Make a list of things you want to get done and set out to accomplish them. Do something that makes you feel good that day, which will help add a little balance and perspective.

Move your body. When I start sinking into the hard-core stress of the news – the economy, the cold weather about to suck all the moisture out of my skin, and the rest of the mess, I move. I run. I walk. I get out of the house, get on the treadmill or head to the woods for a long walk.

Distract. Distract. Distract. Take on a home project you’ve been putting off. They can be a good excuse to get your hands dirty and your mind off all the stressors. It helps you think of something else, and the good news is your house will look better.

Have a Martha Stewart moment. Invite your friends over. Make a feast. Pour some wine and refocus – for a moment at least.

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