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Get a Grip: How to Beat Stress and Take Control of Your Life

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7 Ways You Can Take Control

Show life who's boss with these easy strategies.

Focus on your attributes.

"If you think you're unworthy, other people will think so too," says New York City life coach Michael Melcher. He suggests making a list of 25 things you like about yourself. Include talents such as your ability to run six miles three times a week. Tape it inside your daily planner, on your bathroom mirror, or to the fridge.

Steer clear of people who drag you down.

That means cutting ties with "friends" who constantly tell you what you're doing wrong or who chronically mope and complain. "Their unhappiness is contagious," relationship expert Sherry Argov says. "Positive people build you up and give you the energy to keep going, even through hard times."

Save at least 10 percent of your income.

That's what anyone who's serious about gaining control of her money should aim for, says financial coach Chellie Campbell. To put cash away: Eat out less and cook at home more, shop at warehouse stores, and buy new clothing only when you really need it.

Don't take everything so personally.

Blaming yourself for things that aren't your fault is a major cause of low self-esteem, says psychologist June Brown, PhD, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London. So the next time the person you're chatting with at a party excuses himself, don't assume you bored him silly. Instead, tell yourself he wanted to circulate, and move on.

Nix negative thinking.

"Every time a self-critical thought pops into your head, toss it right back out by telling yourself something encouraging," Argov advises. "For example, if you start thinking, 'I'm a failure because I haven't yet run a marathon,' change that to 'I have the discipline to keep training.'"

Go from dating to doing.

Can't face the prospect of summarizing your life story one more time? Take a break and spend more time participating in activities you enjoy. "It's easier to meet someone and develop a relationship through shared interests," Melcher says.

Stop worrying about what other people think.

If you live according to your own values, you'll feel more confident and satisfied.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2009.


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