SCOTT EATON, MFT
ARTICLES

Ten "Inner Tips" for Coping
with the Stress of War and Terrorism

by Bryan Brewer, Self-Guided.com

Many of us feel that we have little control over the stressful events unfolding on the world stage today. Although it can be empowering to take political action or prepare for an emergency, such actions often don't do much to diminish our feelings of stress. These ten inner tips -- drawn from the books and recordings of Joel Levey and Michelle Levey -- provide specific ways you can manage your own responses to these events, and thus lower your overall levels of stress and anxiety.

More information about each of these tips is available at www.self-guided.com. Some include links where you can listen to guided imagery relaxation recordings online.

Please feel free to pass on these tips to anyone who you think might benefit from them.

1.  Take short relaxation breaks to let go of tension.
This is easy when you remember to use your breath as your guide. Whenever you notice you are getting stressed or anxious, just (1) stop and pause for a moment, (2) take in a deep breath, and (3) slowly exhale, releasing any tension you may be carrying. Use spare moments throughout the day to breathe away tension or to recall pleasant images and memories that will help soothe you. You can also practice relaxation guided imagery to calm your mind and body. By reducing your overall anxiety level in these ways, you will be better able to deal with stressful information and world events.

2.  Engage in a mind-body practice to relieve stress.
We all know that exercise is healthy. In addition, there are many practices and techniques that specifically enhance the mind-body connection and help relieve stress. These include such activities as tai chi, yoga, walking meditation, ecstatic dance, walking a labyrinth … as well as focused sports performance and playing a musical instrument. The most effective techniques will get you in touch with a "felt sense" of your aliveness in your body. Performing these and other mind-body activities in a natural setting gives an added soothing and balancing benefit.

3.  Take time to care for yourself to restore balance in your life.
Providing good self-care is not selfish. If you are totally stressed out, you won’t have much left over to give to yourself or to others. It’s important to take the time to do something you love to do – something just for you – at least once a day. Go for a leisurely walk, get a massage, listen to some favorite music, take a long hot bath, get a manicure, take a nap, or do any other healthy activity that gives you energy. This will increase the balance in your life, thus helping you to better deal with anxiety and stress.

4.  Explore the healing power of mindfulness to reduce anxiety.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to whatever you are experiencing in the moment. The method is to simply notice the ever-changing flow of your mental, emotional, and physical experiences as you go about your daily life. Although deceptively simple, the practice of mindfulness is a crucial tool for discovering and sustaining balance in your life. By helping you learn to recognize the subtle "whispers" of tension, worry, or stress before they can turn into "screams," the practice of mindfulness offers many health benefits, including the ability to reduce your stress and calm your anxiety.

5.  Express gratitude as a powerful antidote to fear.
When you give thanks, it is difficult to also feel fear at the same time. A heartfelt sense of appreciation that connects you with what is good and right in your life will help restore harmony and balance in both your mind and your body. Remember to be thankful for the many blessings already present in your life.

6.  Recognize when you tell yourself "stories that don’t need to happen."
The stress of war and terrorism can easily lead the mind to imagine all sorts of unpleasant outcomes, which in turn leads to more worry and anxiety. To interrupt this unproductive mental feedback loop, simply recognize and then release such thoughts by saying to yourself, "This is a story that doesn’t need to happen." The trick is not to suppress negative thoughts or deny them, but to simply honor them and then let them go. And when a desirable story arises in your inner dialogue, recognize it and then release it by saying to yourself, "Yes, this is a healing story."

7.  Develop a sense of compassion to increase your resilience.
If you can open and expand your heart – even just a little – to the true humanness of others, it can transform your attitude toward yourself as well. Cultivating a sense of compassion will expand your horizons and connect you to a larger concept of yourself. This in turn will ease your own stress and anxiety, and allow you to have a greater range of choices in how you respond to any situation.

8.  Choose relaxing activities before bedtime to get better sleep.
Our curious minds naturally want to know the latest news and how it might affect us. It’s a basic survival instinct. But it’s also important to get a good night’s rest, and watching TV news at night before bedtime can be detrimental to the quality of your sleep. A better survival strategy is to catch up on the news during the day, and in the evening focus on relaxing or mentally uplifting activities. Instead of watching TV news at night, try listening to music, reading a book, or watching a non-violent movie. You are likely to sleep better, have more pleasant dreams, and awaken more refreshed – and thus be better able to cope with daily stress.

9.  Look beyond the immediate to find the deeper meaning.
This tip is really about finding your faith and trusting it. Call upon any higher powers that have significance for you, and ask for guidance to be able to see the deeper meaning of events in your own life and in the world at large. Imagine looking down at the Earth from outer space and being able to sense the unseen forces constantly at work for the greatest good of all creation. Applying a "big picture" perspective to your thoughts and actions helps you gain a sense of inner peace.

10.  Activate your mental powers to Envision Global Peace.
Your thoughts have power over your own body. Consider also that your thoughts may have a positive effect on other things as well. The healing power of prayer is widely acknowledged in all cultures, and is gaining greater acceptance in medical and scientific circles. We all want peace. Use your mental powers to radiate your own love out into the world to Envision Global Peace.

2003 Self-Guided.com
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