Presentation Series: Stress Management

The following are handouts I've distributed during my public talks on stress management to various groups and organizations this past year. Contact me if you'd like to arrange a presentation for your group.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Individual & Family Psychotherapy • Clinical Hypnosis
1900 Folsom, Suite 203 • Boulder CO 80304
303 444-1404

Don’t Distress... DE-STRESS Yourself!

Stress is natural and unavoidable. How you deal with it, determines a negative or positive outcome.
Here are a few secrets for overcoming stress:

1. Breathe!
Unhook from your automatic pilot and take charge of your physical self. By modifying your breathing, you can change your entire stress response.

To Do: Place one hand on your chest; the other below your belly. Breathe in and expand your belly then your chest. Exhale in the same sequence. More oxygen brings stress relief.

2. Stay in the Present!
(not in the past or future). That’s the only place you can make personal changes.

To Do: Check in with your 5 senses. Focus back on what am I (seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling) right now.

3. Choose Healthy Survival Methods
(you know, all those things you’re suppose to do anyway...) Be in touch with your personal needs. When you take reasonable care of yourself, you will feel better and make better decisions.

To Do: Exercise (hike, bike, work out, jog, walk the dog...).
Eat healthy nutritious foods.
Get rest.
Eliminate substance abuse, (caffeine, alcohol, drugs, tranquilizers, etc.).
Take care of yourself (listen to music, get a massage, take a bath, read, watch a comedy, etc.).
Surround yourself with people and places that support your positive interests and wellbeing.

4. Attend to Emotions
Give yourself permission to feel your feelings, even if it’s uncomfortable. Don’t stuff them. If you avoid your feelings, they’ll linger or reappear through symptoms to get your attention.

To Do: Feel your feelings. Validate your experience and emotions will diminish or change.
Stay in touch with others, don’t isolate. Bounce feelings, concerns, ideas off of friends.
Write. Get it out and down on paper. Journaling or stream of consciousness recording of worries, fears, etc. will also unburden your subconscious mind and bring relief.

5. Take Charge of your Thoughts
Are you directing your thoughts or are they controlling you?

To Do: Interrupt negative thoughts, choose how you want to think.
Maintain optimistic view (drink from the bottom half of the water glass!).
Rationalize! Ask yourself: “Is that what you want? Is that really true?”.
Meditate. Refocus your attention to something neutral or to what’s in your best interests.

6. Seek Professional Help If Needed.
If you’re not able to unhook from stress, don’t wait until it gets worse. Take advantage of those who may be able to coach you back to being you again.

To Do: Check for depression, anxiety, nervous restlessness, sleeping or eating irregularities, anger, crying, difficulty concentrating, compulsive behaviors, physical symptoms, etc.
Make an appointment with your psychotherapist, doctor or other health care professional.

©2001 Barry Erdman & Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Individual & Family Psychotherapy • Clinical Hypnosis
1900 Folsom, Suite 203 • Boulder CO 80304
303 444-1404

Breathe-Let Go-Recharge Exercise
(read entirely first or record to listen)

Find a quiet place to sit comfortably.
Take a few deep relaxing belly breaths and let your eyes close.
As you breathe in through your nose and mouth, feel the cool clean relaxing air come in and go down and through your body. Each time you breathe, continue to breathe down lower and lower into your chest, waist, legs, feet and toes.

Now open up imaginary spigots, faucets or little nostrils at the tips of each of your toes and breathe out through your toes. Continue to breathe in through your nose, and out through all your 10 toes, releasing, purging, or draining out any stress or tension blocking the lower part of your body from the waist down.

After a few moments, continue by breathing in through you nose, and now also down through your shoulders, to your arms, and into your wrists, hands and fingers. Then breathe out any blocking tension or stress from the upper part of your body through each of the imaginary openings at the ends of your 10 fingers.

Top of Head
Again after a few moments, continue breathing through your toes and your fingers, and now breathe up towards the top of your head. At the very crown of your head, imagine a whale’s or dolphin’s blow hole, a pressure cooker valve, or a geyser like ‘old faithful’. Continue breathing in through your nose and now also up and out through the top of your head, releasing any mental or emotional tension or stress from the shoulders up, through the face to the top of your head.

Smiling Center
Lastly, as you breathe in, imagine now breathing into your very center, to a small smiling sensation in the center of yourself. As you continue to breathe into this smiling center, feel it begin to expand and spread throughout your entire body. As it spreads that smiling sensation can move into all the different parts of yourself...bringing relaxation, peace, wellbeing and health to all parts of you. Your physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual parts can all become centered, relaxed filled with your own personal smiling sensation...radiating throughout your self to others around you, near and far.

Relaxing Recharge
As you continue to breathe in, feel a peaceful wave of relaxation moving in and through you, purging, draining anything that no longer needs to be there...while refilling and expanding yourself through that smiling sensation from your center, out to your entire self... feeling connected, recharged, rejuvenated and relaxed. Enjoy these special moments and bring them back with you as return to the rest of the day(evening), weeks, months and years ahead.

©2001 Barry Erdman & Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(Use daily or as needed, but reproduce only with permission please)

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