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Life is meant to be enjoyed, yet, all too often the carefree and imaginative side of our nature that came so naturally to us as children seems to disappear as we get older. Millions of people in the United States suffer from chronic stress and anxiety and an estimated 3 million have panic disorder. As adults, we sometimes get caught up with so many responsibilities and our "should" way of thinking. "I should work harder," "I should lose weight," "I should be a better husband, wife or parent," - the list goes on and on. We set ourselves up for a lot of stress and unrealistic expectations. The next time you find yourself thinking this way or filling yourself with anxious "what if" thoughts, you may want to try practicing stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, exercise, meditation or yoga. Sometimes all it takes is a change in routine, or going outdoors and playing a game, as you did as a child. Silly as it may seem, studies show that smiling actually helps release endorphins (the feel good hormones.) Sometimes that's all it takes to turn our thoughts around. Smiling leads to laughter and laughter lifts our spirits and leaves us feeling calmer and more relaxed. So, focusing your attention on something other than your stressful thoughts helps you relax.

Sometimes it takes more, such as learning relaxation techniques to achieve our goals. This is when self-improvement books, videos, or tapes may be useful. Time management is often another invaluable tool to manage our busy lives. From “to-do” lists to a carefully thought-out action plan, learning time management is a great way to manage the different areas of our lives, both professionally and personally. Some people may want to employ a life coach or attend a life-coaching class. This is another fine way to achieve goals - just be sure to do your research and look for a life coach with the proper certification. There are life coaches for nearly every area of life from career to relationships, health and improving one’s self-esteem. If you’re wanting to create a new career, go back to school, find the love of your life or end an unhealthy relationship - attending a life-coaching session often gives you the motivation you need. For a higher quality of life, take advantage of all the self-improvement techniques and technology available today to manage your stress and create a better you!


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