Guest Column: How To Stress Less

Middle East meltdown. Global-warming meltdown. Nuclear meltdown. You can't always change what's going on in the world, but there is a lot you can do about how it affects you:

Exercise: Physical exercise is a great way to discharge stressful feelings that accumulate during the day. Feel and look better.

Get social support: Intimacy and community buffer stress. Call a friend. Get a dog. Go to church or synagogue. Make love. Have dinner with your family.

Breathe: When you're feeling stressed, your breath becomes more rapid and shallow. Take some slow, deep breaths, which will reduce your stress level almost immediately.

Meditate: You can meditate on almost anything: a prayer, song, image or word. Close your eyes, sit in a comfortable position. Take a breath, and say the word out loud, emphasizing the humming sound at the end. When you come to the end of the breath, take another one and say the word again. And so on. When your mind wanders, just bring it back. Over time, your mind quiets down and you begin to experience inner peace.

Do yoga: When your body is more relaxed, your mind feels less stressed.

Reduce stimulants: Caffeine shortens your fuse and makes you more reactive to stress.

Practice forgiveness, altruism, compassion, service: When you forgive someone, it doesn't excuse his actions; it frees you from stress and suffering. This is true for nations as well as individuals. Otherwise, the cycle of violence escalates. It takes strength and courage to forgive; those who are afraid to look weak are often the ones preaching vengeance. When you embody peace, people around you feel it. You become an example for others. When you meet hatred with love, fear with hope, that transforms you and those around you. As Gandhi wrote, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

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