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Appendix 3

DR. ELLEN'S GUIDELINES FOR MANAGING STRESS

The following guidelines will help you better manage your most important relationships in life. However, they do take practice:

 

Pace yourself. You can't be in high gear all the time.
Learn to play. It's not just a thing that kids do.
Take on one thing at a time. Prioritize what needs to be done and first get THAT done.
Give in once and awhile. If it isn't really worth fighting for then don't fight for it.
Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Being perfect is both impossible and boring.
Cultivate a benign acceptance of how others are. Focus on changing self rather than on always trying to change someone else.
Work to broaden rather than restrict your world view.
Plan for change. All things change despite our best efforts at times to prevent change.
Make the first move, initiate interactions with others and make yourself more emotionally accessible to them.
Focus on solutions and options instead of always on the problem.
Diversify your emotional portfolio by cultivating a wider range of friends. Cultivate a "best" friend, too...someone who really knows you...and try to find new best friendships in every new decade of life.
Learn to recognize your limitations and work around them. Focus on changing what can be changed with help from you.
Touch others more. Give the message that you care. Under stressful conditions talk less and touch more.
Focus on defining how YOU feel instead of always trying to figure out how others feel.
Strive to negotiate in a relationship, such that everyone walks away feeling a sense of both give and take. And regularly re-negotiate.
Use humor to gain some perspective. Humor helps. Enjoy a gentle laugh at yourself.
Listen intently to what the other is saying -- not to try to change them or even to agree with them, but simply to better understand them.
Try always to give others the benefit of the doubt, leaving open the possibility that there is more to something than what you first believed.
Check out how the other person really feels before you jump to your own conclusions about how the person feels.
Make sure your own house is in order FIRST.
Avoid taking an emotional stand on an issue that is between two other people. Respect the possibility that they may be able to better resolve their difficulties without interference from you.`
Ask fewer questions and make more self-statements. Reveal yourself.
Cultivate a little joy in your life every single day.
Focus on trying to understand what 'is' instead of pretending that something is what it isn't.
Learn to verbalize how you feel when you are feeling it, rather than expecting others to somehow intuit how you feel.
Cultivate intimate closeness without TOO MUCH closeness, so that those in the relationship can retain some level of self along with a feeling of closeness.
Have some readily available and consistent outlets for creative self-expression in every era of your life.
Learn how to divert stress. Learn what is stressful for you and plan for it accordingly while thinking through what route would be less stressful.
Avoid making rigid demands of others. If you are going to expect of anyone, let that be yourself. This goes for parents and children, too.
Cultivate a positive internal dialogue with yourself and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Self-blame is as destructive as other-blame.
Learn to express your distress in productive and non-destructive ways.
Avoid giving double-messages in your communications with others. Rid your relationships of hidden agendas.
Substitute "I can't" with "I will try." Or just be honest and say "I won't."
Learn to relax. Tension is contagious and it causes the physical self great distress.
Remember that much of what we tell ourselves is self-fulfilling, meaning we tend to become what we think we are.
Make important life changes in small and controllable increments. Making too many big changes at once is highly stressful.
Get down from that over-responsible pedestal.
Keep some private space to which you can regularly retreat for self-renewal...not weekly or monthly, but daily.
Plan for the worst instead of just passively hoping for the best. That doesn't mean that the worst will necessarily happen.
Decide what is truly non-negotiable for you in life and honor it above all else.
Stay in viable contact with your family of origin throughout life.

 

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