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Distressed to De-stressed
Photo: Bob Smith
I recently finished graduate school, moved to a new area and changed jobs, so you can imagine that stress levels are not exactly at a record low for me. 

With the onslaught of new endeavors and major life changes comes the additional financial burdens that they incur, which only piles on more worries to my already addled and anxiety ridden mind. This not only takes a toll on my personal and mental well-being, but radiates out from me like ripples in a pond towards all those around me who need me to be strong during these times of change. 

I have come to find out very quickly that I need to make some quick changes in order to retain my sanity and maintain my spiritual bearings. In order to do this, I scoured the Barnes and Noble section on stress and consulted every web site which claimed authority on the matter. Lo and behold, I found about a thousand and a half experts who each had five ways and a low priced book that would solve my problems. While I could not afford to drop my money on one hundred books, I did try many of the tips, tricks and practices that were recommended for reducing stress. Below are the five that worked best for me.

1. Deep breaths. The funny thing about this free stress reducer is how quickly it works, and how many situations it works in. When faced with what sometimes seems like insurmountable tasks or situations, closing your eyes and slowing things down seems to be just what is needed. There are many studies that present the hard scientific evidence as to why this works, but you can take my word for it.

2. Talk. Be sure to take a deep breath and count to ten first, but this method is amazingly useful when used to vent to a close friend as a cathartic instrument. Having somebody who empathizes and shares your burden with you makes it seem much lighter. And if you are worrying about something ridiculous, telling someone about may just let you in on that fact too.

3. Go for a walk. This seems to be a surefire way to bring stress levels down. You get the deep breaths, you get oxygen flowing throughout your body, and you have a chance to get healthy and minimize the feeling that you are not doing enough for your body as well as your mind.

4. Sit down. This may have been the best practice I found for use with stress related work. Put off all of your responsibilities for ten minutes and just sit. Flick on the T.V. or pick up a magazine, and lose yourself for a brief but much needed time. Resist the urge to stay there and get back to your task with a fresher mental approach.

5. Meditate. I do this every morning on my commute to work now. I choose to focus on something very positive (the fresh snow on the mountains), and stay with that thought for as long as possible. Mixing in prayer and deep breathing is a tremendous way to get yourself in tune with your better side and ready to tackle any known or unknown challenges.

While these methods may not work for you, and I make no promises, they were incredibly helpful to me as I sought order in a sometimes whirlwind of a world. God made order out of chaos, and I believe that he has imbued each of us with the ability to do the same with our lives.

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Garrett Gladden. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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