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Bust Stress with Fun Self Help Advice

Written by Dr. Dan Johnston

Fight stress with a daily to-do list of joy-filled romps and respites.

Suzanne Somers does thigh crunches. Schwarzenegger takes a spin in his humvee. Bruce Willis throws on a tank top and smirks. We all have things that bring us joy in life and help us to keep stress under control.

 
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What makes you happy? Write down 20 of your favorite pleasure-providers and keep the list handy, advises Lorretta LaRoche, a humorist and stress management consultant.

Get creative, but make sure that all items on your list are things that can be done immediately. A trip to Paris might bring you joy, but you probably can't leave this minute. Simple, easily achievable pleasures such as reading the morning newspaper, working in your garden, having a cup of coffee or taking a walk with your dog will help you beat stress today.

Your list of 20 possibilities will serve as a menu for stress control. When you increase the joy in your life, you decrease the time you spend feeling stressed.

Do at least five things from your joy list every day. Do them whether you feel like it or not. If you are extremely stressed, you may not feel like slowing down, but taking a break for joy will help you recapture lost energy.

Plan on having fun every day, and frequently update your joy list. When you find something new that you like, add it to the list. The longer the list, the more options you have for reducing the impact of stress.

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Dan Johnston, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and director of psychological services at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. He also serves on the faculty of the Mercer University School of Medicine. Johnston is the creator of the Awakenings Web site, offering lessons for living.