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Lightening Up

Lightening Up

This month, we're focusing a lot on managing stress. 

Note we said managing, not reducing. Trying to eliminate or reduce stress is a noble goal, but the reality is that stress is inevitable. In fact, some stress is even good for us, helping us grow. So if we can't remove it, we must learn how to manage it. 

"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters." -Epictetus

A remarkable discovery for Sue and me has been that managing stress is what Dorothy's 9 Rules are primarily about. Doing simple things in your life, every day, that improve the quality of your mind, body, and spirit. 

Does Managing Stress Really Matter?

There are some enormous health benefits to managing stress. Research has shown that you'll:

  • Sleep better
  • Manage your weight
  • Get sick less often
  • Feel better faster when you do get sick
  • Have less muscle tension
  • Be in a better mood
  • Enhance your relationships

Sounds awesome. Let's do it all! Right?

Go Big Or Go Home? Nope.

Something we have a tendency to do in our society is to go big. We institute radical changes (usually on Jan 1) and resolve that we WILL make progress. And this time, we'll stick to it. It's just a matter of discipline, resolve, and willpower. And then we slip.

We stress ourselves out trying to manage our stress. 😂

We don't have to. Successful change comes from focusing on a few small things, setting reasonable goals, and not beating ourselves up when we backtrack. Progress over perfection. When those small changes have become a habit, we make a few more.

That is what the 9 rules are all about. Small daily actions that lead to significant changes. In case you've not seen them before, they are:

  • Read educational material 1 hr daily
  • Take notes to make myself write
  • Sing 10 min daily (or hum)
  • Find something to laugh about daily
  • Exercise 5x a week
  • Write a letter once a week
  • Appreciation once a week
  • Gratitude daily
  • Social visit 2 times a mo.

Some additional ideas from popular health-oriented sites:

  • Practice mindfulness
  • Eliminate or significantly reduce alcohol 
  • Keep a journal
  • Take up learning a musical instrument
  • Seek counseling if you struggle with it

And Most Important

Don't beat yourself up. We're all a little stressed out right now, and there is so much noise about how we should look, feel, or believe. On top of it all, the pressure that if you aren't succeeding, it's because you didn't work hard enough, didn't push through, didn't apply the force of your will.

That's all just BS, and usually, it is somebody trying to sell you something. Just ignore all the extreme advice. Take a few small steps to improve something in your life. When those become a habit, add a few more. And ENJOY it along the way. 

Yours in health,

Kent & Sue

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