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2-Second Stress Cures

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Vocabulary Shifts

8. "I choose to..."

Thinking about pleasurable activities as though they're chores ("I have to get my nails done" or "I have to meet Jen for dinner") can leave you feeling pressured and full of dread. Switch one word -- have to choose -- and you're no longer lumping the good stuff in your life into the category of "crappy stuff I must endure."

"It's a minor shift in vocabulary, but an important one, because it validates the fact that you can decide whether or not to do something in your life," says Farrell. Think about changing your phrasing when you describe some of your obligations, too. "Many of the annoying tasks we must accomplish actually help us reach our goals," says Farrell.

9. "I'll do my best."

When faced with a high-stakes situation -- say, an interview for your dream job, a date with a great-on-paper guy -- it's common to put undue pressure on yourself. You may feel that you either must have a blue-ribbon, no-mistakes moment or you're screwed.

Tell yourself, "I'll do my best." Like "I can do this," this phrase helps you feel hopeful, says Luskin. But it also reminds you that perfection isn't the goal. When researchers at Penn State studied gymnasts who were trying out for the U.S. Olympic Team, they found that athletes who spoke to themselves with encouragement during the trials were more likely to succeed and make the cut, despite experiencing the same anxiety.

10. "Will I worry about this in 6 months?"

Ask yourself what's causing the most stress in your life right now. Is it your puppy's refusal to become housebroken? A rough patch in your marriage? That woman who just won't get off the treadmill at the gym? Now apply the "six-month rule": Will you still be fretting over this "crisis" a half a year from now? Simply remind yourself that the mountain you're churning over right now is nothing more than a temporary molehill, and you'll feel instantly much less worried and distraught.

11. Absolutely nothing

If you're besieged by a complainer or catty Cathy, it's often best not to chime in. The tense, negative energy wastes time and causes more stress. Smile and don't say a word.

Originally published in Fitness magazine, April 2006.


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kt_dancer21292 wrote:

I agree with the above comments! This article seemed to come at the perfect time with the school year beginning again. Lots of things that seem stressful. Thank you for helping me put things in perspective!

9/11/2012 01:08:50 PM Report Abuse
pweber7 wrote:

I found several hints (and things you shouldn't do that I do) that should help me. Great story.

9/11/2012 11:45:23 AM Report Abuse
cathypecoraro wrote:

Great Story- very helpful to put things that seem big at the moment into perspective.

9/11/2012 11:06:50 AM Report Abuse

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