Finding Balance Relieves Stress

Trish Henrie is an adjunct professor in Positive Psychology at the University of Utah and has some ideas for helping find balance in times of stress.

The benefits of happiness include higher income and superior work outcomes (e.g., greater productivity and higher quality of work), larger social rewards (e.g., more satisfying and longer marriages, more friends, stronger social support, and richer social interactions), more activity, energy, and flow, and better physical health (e.g., a bolstered immune system, lowered stress levels, and less pain) and even longer life. Sustainable increases in happiness are possible through the practice of intentional cognitive, motivational, and behavioral activities that are feasible to deploy but require daily and concerted effort and commitment. In other words to be happy we need balance in our lives.

Balance reduces stress and here are three specific ways to do that:

1. Regularly set aside time to recall moments of gratitude – regularly setting aside time to recall moments of gratitude (i.e., keeping a journal in which one “counts one’s blessings” or writing a gratitude letter). This keeps you in the moment and not comparing yourself to others. So much of our “imbalance” comes from keeping up with others – trying to be something we’re not, complaining and blaming about our lives. Gratitude interventions help with this.

2. Engage in self-regulatory and positive thinking about oneself (i.e., reflecting, writing, and talking about one’s happiest and unhappiest life events or one’s goals for the future)

Figure out where you’re at. I think a person needs to know how they are unbalanced and reflect before they can fix it…

Values inventory – Where are you spending most of your time? It can work to simply write down where you spend your time and where your priorities are. But you might want to take a deeper look. By completing this worksheet, it will tell you where your priorities really are.

Writing your obituary – This is an opportunity to let you see how others might see you, and how you want to be remembered.

Good day exercise – For two weeks, evaluate your day each night. Was it a good day or bad? What made it a good day? Look for patterns, i.e. exercising, finishing a project, visiting with a friend.

3. Practice altruism and kindness (i.e., routinely committing acts of kindness). Again, balance requires focus on ourselves as well as others.

Dr. Trish Henrie is an adjunct professor in Positive Psychology at the University of Utah and she has a private counseling practice. She uses positive psychological interventions in her practice and has found that emphasizing the positive instead of pathology is huge in motivating people to greater mental and physical health. She can be reached at 801 787 -9855.

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