Opinion: You can control the stress in your life

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It may seem like there’s nothing you can do about the stress in your life.

Whether you’re a parent to one child or multiple, a student trying to balance life with classes (or vice versa) or someone who is working long hours at multiple jobs every day, life can be pretty busy and overwhelming.

Trust me…I know. Right now I’m balancing a new job position, a marital status change, a growing love for studio photography and life in general with an adventure-seeking five-year-old. That’s a lot for one person to handle.

So how do I do it all? I wish I could say it’s easy, but that wouldn’t be the truth.

Amanda mugI recently got an e-mail about a stress management seminar at the WK Innovation Center in Bossier. After reading just a few sentences, I knew it would be something I could benefit from.

What I learned is that stress comes in many forms. The key to stress management, though, is about how you choose to handle it.

Holly Winterrowd, manager/senior wellness coordinator for The Oaks of Louisiana and group exercise coordinator for Willis-Knighton Fitness & Wellness Centers, and Meredith Siskron, LMT who is specially trained in Tibetan bowl therapy, talked the group through three ways of handling stress. Winterrowd explained that exercise is a great stress relief because it not only improves your mood, but helps with depression and boosts confidence. She also suggested healthy eating habits and to avoid “sugary” and processed foods.

Then she entered the breathing and meditation phase. Who knew a few minutes of deep breathing in complete silence could be so enjoyable?

Winterrowd suggested three ways to meditate – quiet time, guided imagery and progressive relaxation.

Quiet time can mean taking yourself out of a situation and sitting 5 to 20 minutes taking deep, relaxing breaths. Guided imagery means going on a “mind vacation.” Pick a destination in your mind and go there. Imagine being at the beach and how the sand would feel in your toes or how the water feels as you float. If that’s not your thing, she said to envision a golden light traveling through the body and stopping at parts that need the most healing.

One thing that really hit home was Winterrowd’s talk about being mindful. She said that stress typically revolves around something that happened in the past or something you know will happen in the future. Instead, we should be more aware of the present…live your life in the here and now.

So what is the end result to managing stress? Here are some steps that Winterrowd suggested.

Develop a relationship with yourself. Take a step back and identify the source of all your worries – is it money? Work? Something in your personal life?

Once you find it, look for a solution. Make a change. There is no “one size fits all” solution to managing stress. Experiment with these techniques and see what works best for you.

Just remember – you have the ability to control stress more than you think.

Amanda Simmons is editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. She can be reached at amanda@bossierpress.com