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Coping with Stress: Savoring

Everyone experiences times of stress in their lives. This brief series will be devoted to understanding some specific things you can do in times of stress. Often we employ negative ways to deal with stress because those ways of coping are easy and effective in the short term (excessive drinking, angry outbursts, avoiding entirely, etc). They make us feel better for a moment, but in the long run do not solve our problems and the stress immediately starts to build again. There are much more positive ways to cope with stress while also improving our overall well-being.

Stress can actually be a positive factor in our lives, though it can be hard to see it in the moment. It keeps us from being stagnant and complacent in our development as people. I believe humans are by nature self-perfecting, meaning we are always striving to be better than we are currently. It's these times of stress that really help us grow and become better people than we were, if we go about it in the right way. Times of stress can also be debilitating if we let it, but anyone can use the recommendations from this series to increase their resilience and success in these difficult life moments. The experience of stress is an emotional and physiological reaction to things typically happening outside of us, and usually outside of our control.

Savoring as it is referred to in professional mental health literature is the experience of remembering positive past events and empowering times to draw strength in times when we need it most. Research strongly supports the positive impact of savoring on people dealing with stress. It therefore becomes very important that we first have these kinds of empowering moments. Spend some time thinking about how you can create these moments in your own life? It often requires bravery to attempt something that stretches you in order to feel something is truly a great accomplishment. Sometimes these moments come unexpectedly, start making a list of past times you have felt solid and strong in who you are and what you are capable of.

The next important element in utilizing the power of savoring is being able to have good recall of these moments. The more vivid you can make these memories, the more powerful they are. Can you remember the sights, smell, feel and sounds (and if applicable taste) of the moment? Bringing each of the senses into our awareness and being fully present in the moment when it is actually happening is important for recall and also beneficial for well-being. Recording these moments in some kind of a special journal can help with recall later when you need it. Can you imagine having a book entirely dedicated to the small and large triumphs of your life? What a powerful thing to be in possession of! So that years after your mind has forgotten, the thoughts in that moment are forever preserved to draw strength from later.

Life is hard, but you are strong enough to handle anything life throws at you. You have proved it time and time again if you will only look back and recognize your strength for what it is!

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