Techniques for Surviving and Thriving

by Catherine Fenwick ã 2000

Dr. Hans Selye, a renowned Canadian physician and author of Stress Without Distress said, "Stress is the spice of life." He wrote about how we can use stress as a positive force to achieve a rewarding life. The secret is to develop healthy rather than unhealthy responses to stress and put the energy to good use.

Psychologists Suzanne Kobasa and Salvadore Maddi discovered in their research that people with high stress levels who did not become fatigued or ill, shared the following characteristics:

* felt in control of their lives

* viewed unexpected events as challenges rather than threats

* felt committed to what they were doing

* maintained a sense of humour

The following is a list of my recommendations for a happier and healthier life:

  1. Have a goal, a purpose in life that you can respect and be proud to work for. Create a mental picture of what it is that would give your life meaning and purpose. Find out what you need to get there. Plan for it. Do it
  2. Spirituality and philosophy give a sense of unity. Knowledge that your life has meaning and purpose is a great motivator.
  3. Practice mental relaxation exercises. Daily meditation is a natural harmonizer. It helps us to achieve relaxation and release anxiety. Develop quiet time as a daily habit. We become aware of the benefits of meditation when we commit as little as ten to twenty minutes each day.
  4. Look for balance. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Stop and smell the roses. Keep physically fit, eat healthy food, get enough sleep, lots of physical activity, and make time for friends. Concentrate on what's really important. Check your Balance Grid periodically.
  5. Avoid the "over responsibility" trap. Don't do for others what they should and could be doing for themselves.
  6. Learn more about how you respond to change. Does the idea of lots of change frighten you or excite you? Sometimes excitement feels like fear. If you perceive it as a challenge to be met and learn to flow with it, you are more likely to achieve your goals. Greet life with courage, flexibility and trust.
  7. Pat yourself on the back once in a while. Give yourself rewards for small successes, pay attention to all the neat stuff you do and don't worry so much about the stuff that can't be done.
  8. Don't sweat the small stuff, most of it is small stuff, and the big stuff is a test of your courage and ability to handle life.
  9. Sometimes people use up a lot of time and energy worrying. One solution is to focus on the task at hand. Put that energy to good use. Work when you are working, play when you are playing, rest when you are resting. Be the best you can be and accept your limitations. We all have them. No one can do and be all things, though many of us try.
  10. Hang on to your sense of humour and have some fun every day. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" (Proverbs 17:22). I believe that joy and laughter is the best stress buster. It helps us keep things in perspective and face our problems with renewed concentration and hope.


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