My Eight Gets

My Eight Gets

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Stress


My Eight Gets

He was sixty-seven years old. His factory — and everything he had worked for his entire life — had gone up in flames. Yet, Thomas Edison looked at the ruins and said, “There’s value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew.”

That’s what I call a positive attitude. And I’ve found a positive attitude vital for handling stress with calm confidence.

For most of my life, I have battled depression. Though it’s not as obvious as a broken leg, it’s just as painful, and it disrupts life, decreases productivity, and contributes to marital and job stress.

“This is more than I can handle.” That’s what I told myself for years; but it wasn’t true for me, just as it wasn’t true for great leaders and strong men like Abraham Lincoln who fought the same battle.

While you can’t talk yourself out of depression any more than you can talk yourself out of diabetes or cancer, I’ve learned how positive self talk can improve coping skills. A positive attitude is an important element of half a dozen stress-busting strategies I practice, which I call my “Eight Gets.”

When I begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed, the first thing I do is GET FOCUSED. Instead of thinking about bills, a broken down car, or bad hair days, I make a conscious effort to flood my brain with positive, hopeful thoughts such as “I can get through this. I have what it takes to deal with whatever I need to handle. I’m confident of my abilities.”

Simply telling yourself good things is empowering. I wrote a list of affirmations such as “I am relaxed and worry free. I enjoy life and choose to be happy.” Even if the statements aren’t currently true or I don’t really believe them, my mind eventually comes to believe what I tell it, so I tell it I am already the type of person I want to become. Focusing on the positive, rather than on worries, keeps stress at bay.

My second step in relieving stress is GET FRIENDLY. Connecting with others is a great tranquilizer. A phone call, lunch with a friend, or kisses from your significant other are fun and free prescriptions for a brighter outlook. This helps me slide right into my third “get,” which is GET GIGGLING.

Watching funny movies or playing with children is a fantastic mood lifter. I enjoy my grandson because with him I can let go of inhibitions. We dance and sing, wear funny glasses with mustaches, and make up silly rhymes. When I’m stressed and need to smile, I pull out some photos of us. Laughing and smiling release endorphins in your brain. These are chemicals that make you feel good. Chocolate does the same thing, but a good laugh is less fattening.

A friend of mine, who had a very frustrating job, told me that one day she was inspired by a co-worker, so she decided to emulate that woman and smile at everyone she encountered. Right away, she found herself less frustrated and more at peace. “It sounds corny,” she told me, “but smiling works!”

My fourth suggestion is GET RHYTHM.

Positive, upbeat tunes help relieve stress too. Singing and dancing or just tapping my toes sends a message to my brain that I’m relaxed and happy. Rather than complaining about what stresses me, I break out my old CDs and try to remember the words to songs I loved in high school.

Another important stress busting measure is to GET BUSY.

There is a famous quote that goes something like “The best way to lift yourself up is to bend down and help someone else.” We all need to feel like we’re involved in something significant outside ourselves. I’ve enjoyed volunteering at a food pantry and a women’s shelter. As a result, I discovered that contentment and joy boomerang. Give them away and they bounce back to you. Making life better for others will elevate your self-esteem as well as your mood.

Number six on my list is GET PHYSICAL.

There are two elements to this one. Both physical exercise and physical contact, like a massage or a hug are good for mental health. A walk with a friend is the perfect combination. The beauty of nature, fresh air, good conversation and exercise can soothe the toughest stress. And taking my dog along is even more relaxing. Watching his ears flop as he bounces down the road always brings a smile to my face.

Exercise and physical closeness both affect brain chemicals; so don’t just jog, hug somebody — anybody, everybody! A hug reduces tension, lowers blood pressure, and boosts your immunity to illness. They feel good, they make people happy, and they’re free! They’re healthy for the “hugger” as well as the “hugee.”

Shhhh. A very important technique for relieving stress is to GET QUIET.

Our lives are so busy, we rarely take the time to get away and relax, even if it’s just for half an hour or fifteen minutes. Balance is essential to stress free living. Being busy and connecting with others can be great, but sometimes I need to kick back with a good book on my porch swing, listen to the birds sing, and enjoy the solitude.

Last, but not least, we need to GET THANKFUL.

In our busy world, it takes a conscious effort to count our blessings. A frazzled attitude of discontent and frustration has a hard time competing with an attitude of gratitude.

For years, I’ve practiced these eight simple tools to deal with depression, but they’re useful for anyone with any type of stress. If you’re discouraged or you need to refresh your soul, I suggest trying what I do. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and refocus on the more positive things in life.

~ Marsha Mott Jordan ~

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