February 6, 2013

Living in the moment to stop stress fast

It felt like the theme of the day for my clients yesterday was stress. The teen with so much school work she was up until midnight, the twenty-something worried about what her boss thought of her work performance, the middle aged man stressed out about the self-destructive choices his adult son was making.

These clients were in different stages of life, but they all experienced their stress in a similar way. They felt anxious, had interrupted sleep, preoccupied thoughts, and just generally had trouble enjoying all of the individual moments of their lives. Sound familiar to anyone? 

It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses of daily life. From the moment I get up my mind starts thinking about everything I have to do for the day, and the week, and even what needs to happen by the end of the month. I need to take the car to the shop, pick up snacks for my daughter's girl scout meeting, work on a new blog post, do my taxes, and get dinner ready. I feel myself tensing up just writing about it. 

The Christian scriptures provides some wisdom on this idea of stress. "Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34) In that scripture, there is the one of the best keys to stress reduction I have found. 

Focus on what you have to do today - and only today. If you can handle what you have to do today, tomorrow will take care of itself. Breaking that down even further, ask yourself, can I handle what I have to do in the next hour? When I look at my life that way, my day feels pretty manageable. I can finally learn to live more in the moment and start to enjoy each part of my day. 

The trick here is to stop yourself when you have racing thoughts about your long list of to-do's, and remind yourself, I only have to think about what needs to be done in the next hour. It sounds simplistic, but learning to live and work in the moment will help you stop stress fast.

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