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Stress! Stress! Stress! It’s a buzz word that seems to be in almost everyone’s vocabulary.

We feel stressed over bad weather, traffic jams, relationships, health, the job market … the list goes on and on. How we view these challenges will greatly affect our mental, physical and emotional health. The good news is that we do have a choice. Although we may not be able to control all of the circumstances in our daily lives, we do have a choice as to how we respond to them.

There are many strategies for stress management. Books, the Internet, doctors, counselors, etc., have plenty of ideas to help people deal with stress. The key is to experiment with a few of them to find out what works best for each individual.

Here are a few ideas that hopefully will be helpful:

1. Become aware of your body’s reactions. When situations arise that result in tension, irritability, fear, anger, etc., notice where those feelings show up in your body. Head, stomach and neck are common areas where stress shows up.

2. Breathe. A common reaction to difficult situations is to stop breathing normally and breathe very shallowly. At the first recognizable sign of stress, pause, and take three deep breaths, inhaling deeply and slowly through the nose, holding for a few seconds, then releasing slowing through the mouth. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to practice deep breathing, so inhale and exhale however is most comfortable and natural.

3. Comfort yourself. Speak gently and quietly to yourself with words of kindness, support and love … as you would to a beloved friend or child. It often helps to just wrap your arms around yourself, reminding yourself that YOU are there for YOU.

4. Decide to act or not to act. Ask yourself how, if at all, you can impact the situation that is causing you to feel stress. If there is something positive that you can do, plan to do so. If not, let go of finding an immediate solution and trust that with time, a fresh solution may develop.

5. Be in the moment. When we are feeling stress, we often go to the past or to the future. We recall former, often painful memories that can “jump-start” our learned reaction to stress, or we anticipate “another” catastrophe that we conjure up as we project a result of our situation. A simple reminder that we are living right now, in this moment, can help to calm our nerves and open a channel for new and different ways to live and react.

Give these ideas a try, or discover some of your own. You can create a peaceful coexistence with the stresses in your life.

• Kathy Brown, MC, CHHC, CPT, is a health and life coach. She has a Master of Counseling degree from Arizona State, a certification with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as a Certified Holistic Health Coach, and she is a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Health Coach with the American Council on Exercise. Visit or contact her at (602) 320-7325 or

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