Use Stress to Create Positive Change

A gorgeous afternoon to beach comb - Naples Beach @ 5 Ave S - Friday, Sept 22, 2023. 
Photo Courtesy of Charly Caldwell II.

Coping with stress is a major life challenge.

Without some stress, life would be dull, but you need to make certain your stress is working for you, not against you.

When you begin to feel the walls closing in, it’s time to take a break and get away from it all to maintain a healthy life-fitness balance.

Take these opportunities to practice healthy habits that not only reduce your stress but also leave a positive impact on your general well-being:

Breathe purposefully —

Did you know the average person takes a breath 20,000 times a day?

For such a practiced activity you would think we would have it perfected. But just because we do it all the time doesn’t mean we’re good at it.

Do you breathe well?

If you find your heart rate racing and your breaths become shallow, breathing from your chest, you could benefit from purposeful breathing.

Try this:

Lie flat on your back, relax and draw air into your belly first, past your rib cage and lungs so you feel your belly rise.

Feel the movement of your breath both vertically and horizontally as it fills your body.

Breathe out slowly, pressing all the air out from below the belly button, through the ribs and chest until you have released all the breath.

Focus on exhaling tension with each breath. Repeat.

This is a breathing technique that can reduce stress, improve concentration and boost energy.

Take a walk — 

Fresh air and a change of scenery is a great way to rejuvenate the spirit and reduce stress.

We all know how good exercise makes us feel, so some good peaceful walking can be just the trick to deal with a tough day.

Go for a walk at lunch or after work and the mere act of getting outside and moving will boost your mood in no time.

See your stress away - VISUALIZE — 

Visualization is a very simple concept and we already do it when we allow ourselves to relax and daydream.

Try this:

Sit or lie down and close your eyes gently.

Scan your body looking for tension, and try to relax all your muscles as best as you can.

Take a deep breath in and out.

Visualize a place where you can be safe and relaxed.

For example, imagine the beach with waves lapping the shores, blue skies, white clouds and soft sugar sand under your feet.

Once you have mentally arrived at “your place,” add short positive affirmations that reinforce your practice.

I CAN and I AM phrases work best.

For example: “I am relaxed,” “I can let go” or “I am free of tension and stress.”

These affirmations are a well-recognized and powerful way to refocus your mind on the positive and help reduce stress.

Play around with them and come up with affirmations that are meaningful for you.

Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist and Tony Robbins Results Coach from Fort Myers. She also is a Corrective Biomechanics Specialist, USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, USA Cycling coach, has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification, and a PhD in results!

Contact her, or find out more about her monthly online program, at:!


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