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God, grant me the patience to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. — Serenity Prayer
Do you ever feel like you are about to snap?
I’m not sure how it works in your family, but in my home the level of tension between my husband and I seems to be always directly correlated to the amount of stress we are under. The more stressed one of us feels or the more pressure one of us is under, the more likely we are to take out our frustrations on each other. This, of course, only serves to make things worse.
It’s a vicious cycle.
Stress leads to tension, which only leads to more stress.
It goes to follow that if we truly want to lessen the stress in our life, we will have to actively work to lessen our tension. We need to step away from the edge and loosen the emotional strings so tightly wound they threaten to snap at the slightest provocation.
The first step is simply being aware of the tension in our body and mind. Then, as soon as we recognize we are feeling tense or angry we can try a few of the following exercises to instantly bring it down a notch, lessen our stress, and hopefully avoid a needless blow-up:
- Take a deep cleansing breath. When we get stressed we unconsciously take shallower breaths, which only compounds our anxiety because we are getting less oxygen. Breathe in through your nose, then let it out through your mouth. Repeat as many times as necessary.
- Count to ten. Or twenty. Or one hundred. If you find yourself feeling irrationally irritated, don’t speak or respond until you have given yourself at least a few minutes to compose yourself
- Take a walk around the block. It is better to step away from a tense situation than compound it. A little exercise and some perspective can make all the difference.
- Say a prayer. If you’re not sure what to say, try the tried-and-true Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the patience to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Be sure to read Edie’s corresponding post, More Patience.
Identify a recent situation where you felt stressed or tense and, as a result, snapped at a loved one. Reflect on how you could have handled the situation differently. What are some ways you can think of to alleviate tension in your day-to-day life?
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Do you ever struggle with feeling tense and angry? What helps relieve that tension and stress?