De-stressing in stressful times

August 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tips for de-stressing in stressful times. Free yourself from stress and negative emotions. Dr. Judith Orloff, author of "Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform your Life," explains how.

Dr. Orloff will be speaking at the Commonwealth Club on Wed., August 26
Commonwealth Club Talk "Stress and Your Brain's Health"
595 Market Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
NOTEL Cost: $8 members, $15 non-members
For tickets, click here

Buy the book on Amazon: Emotional Freedom

Free yourself from stress and negative emotions.

Calm down your stress hormones. Eliminate or avoid people and situations that induce the stress response in your body, which speeds up your pulse and mimics the feeling of fear. These include caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants; emotional vampires, or people who drain your energy and make you tense to be around; violent newscasts; traffic jams; and arguments.

Identify your stress triggers. Pick one stressful trigger, to start. Let's say it's being laid off. What brings on that fear? Bad news from your industry? Seeing a coworker laid-off? New health bills? The more specific the triggers, the better. Identifying triggers keeps you from being caught off guard next time one crosses your path. Without the "boo factor," fear triggers lose their potency.

Turn fear into courage. Turn fear into courage by taking small do-able actions. Identify one of your fears that causes stress--for example, not being able to pay your credit card bill. Notice the physical sensations in your body when you think about this fear. Next, think of a small, positive step: "I will call the credit card company and renegotiate my fees so I can make a smaller monthly payment." Notice the change in how your body feels. Finally, take that step. Now you feel brave, not fearful because you are taking positive action. Once you get energized, you will be motivated to try this process with another fear.

Attract positive people, not emotional vampires. Be around people who are upbeat, not depressed. Engage in activities that make you feel better, such as yoga or taking a walk with a friend, rather than wallowing in fear of the pink slip, your 401(k) statement, or your credit card bill. Affirm all that is going well in your life--good friends, family, small pleasures. Focus on what you have to be grateful for rather than stresses. These activities chase negativity away.

Stay in the "Now." Don't catastrophize about the future. Keep your mind focused on the present moment only--don't let it wander to worst-case scenarios. Stay focused on what you have to be grateful for now and positive changes you can make today.

How Emotionally Free Are You?
Take this quiz to find out.

To assess your level of emotional freedom at this time, rate each statement to reflect how seldom or often you experience these reactions, where 0 = rarely, 1 = sometimes, and 2 = often.

1. If I'm angry with someone, I'll breathe and center myself before I react.

2. When I'm filled with self-doubt or fear, I treat myself lovingly.

3. When stuck in traffic or if something doesn't happen on my timetable, I have patience.

4. After a hard day, I focus on what I'm grateful for rather than beating myself up for what has gone wrong.

5. If people frustrate me, I can avoid getting snippy or copping an attitude.

6. I feel connected to a sense of spirituality, however I define it.

7. I check in with my intuition-my gut feelings-when making choices.

8. If I'm blamed for something, I can avoid lashing out and saying things I regret.

9. I fall asleep quickly and don't worry about tomorrow's "to-do" list.

10. If my heart gets broken, I don't give up on love.

11. I'm a positive person, and don't make small problems into big ones.

12. I don't seek revenge if someone treats me poorly.

13. I'm not envious of other people's success if it surpasses mine.

14. I quickly let go of negative emotions and don't brood on them.

15. I'm not easily crushed by disappointments.

16. I don't compare myself to others.

17. I have empathy for others but I don't become their therapist or get drained by their emotional pain.

18. I live in the present, rather than dwelling on the past or future.

19. I feel happy with my life, instead of feeling that it's just passing me by.

20. I'm good at setting limits with people who drain my energy.

How to Interpret This Test

To calculate your emotional freedom score, total the numbers corresponding to your responses.

0 A zero score (and it takes courage to admit that) indicates you haven't found emotional freedom yet. The good news is that it's not hard to transform negative emotions such as anger, envy, and fear into positive ones that will make you feel happy, calm, and confident.

1-14 In some areas of your life, you're starting to have some emotional freedom and success dealing with difficult people and situations. However, when you achieve true emotional freedom, you can give and receive love freely, and life's ups and downs will feel so much easier.

15-29 You have a moderate amount of emotional freedom-enough to fully appreciate the joy and happiness it brings. This score indicates you have done serious work on yourself. Keep up the great progress; serenity and freedom from distress will be your rewards.

30-40 You have a considerable level of emotional freedom in your life. People are drawn to your happy, healthy energy. Emotional freedom is not a set goal-it's a lifelong process that will continue to get stronger and give you profound gifts if you keep building on your positive emotions.

About Judith Orloff:
Judith Orloff, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, and a national best-selling author, whose newest title is Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Harmony Books, 2009, $24.95).

Known internationally for her pioneering work in emotional freedom, she lectures and presents seminars frequently throughout the world on the interrelationship between intuition, energy awareness, and medicine-a practical marriage that has enormous applications for a wide range of health conditions. Like a growing number of medical researchers, she is proving that links between physical, emotional, and spiritual health can't be ignored. Dr. Orloff has presented to diverse audiences, including: the human potential and alternative health communities; health professionals from medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions; and at Fortune Magazine's Most Powerful Women Summit.

Dr. Orloff is the author of three previous best-sellers, Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress & Fear into Vibrance, Strength & Love (Harmony Books); Dr. Judith Orloff's Guide to Intuitive Healing: 5 Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Wellness (Three Rivers Press); and Second Sight (Warner Books).

She is a personable, media-savvy expert who has been featured widely in print and online venues, and on radio and television. Recent media credits include O magazine, Self, Glamour, Elle, USA Today, CNN, PBS, The Today Show, A&E, and NPR, among many others.

*Dr. Orloff has an international reputation as an inspirational speaker, a list of previous best-sellers, and a gift for making psychology lively, relevant, and useful to laypeople, which is why she's a popular media guest on national radio and TV. She has been on The Today Show, Early Show, in USA Today and more. Visit her website to view past appearances at: www.drjudithorloff.com.


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