The Year’s Best Tips for Dealing with Stress

By Christy Matta, MA

In the first half of this year, readers really connected with a few posts filled with practical strategies to reduce problematic stress. These posts are aimed at improving your ability to cope with life’s uncertainties and reducing the pressure that can leave you fatigued, spinning your wheels or unable to enjoy your life.

10 Thoughts that May Be Stressing You Out

Check out common stress-inducing thoughts in this post and a few tips to respond differently to them.

2 Things You Can do Right Now to Decrease Anxiety and Depression

Whether it’s college life, a new retirement, changes at work, a new baby, health crisis or conflict with the in-laws, life can be full of uncertainty and pressure. This post has two very practical strategies to decrease the anxiety and depression that can accompany difficult times.

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Meditation: Can You Empty Your Mind?

By Christy Matta, MA

For many, including myself, the idea of sitting quietly with an empty mind seems impossible.  If fact, this idea is often a barrier to any attempts to meditate or try mindfulness exercises.

But, it’s not necessary to empty your mind to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness practice has no instructions or tenets focused on clearing your mind of all thought.

Instead, the practice of mindfulness guides you in the process of choosing a focus for your attention and on simply observing your own thought processes.

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11 Signs You Need to Change How You Communicate

By Christy Matta, MA

Strained relationships create stress and can have a negative impact on your mood and your ability to function throughout the day.  When you’re in conflict with someone else, you’re more likely to be worried, distracted or highly emotional.

We cannot make other people act as we’d wish, but we can become aware of when we act in ways that lead to problems in relationships.  As we identify our own communication problems, we can choose to make changes in how we interact. If you do, you might just find that you’re able to solve intractable problems and that habitual conflicts no longer occur.

Making even small changes to how you communicate can improve the quality of your relationships.

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The Power of Breathing to Reduce Stress

By Christy Matta, MA

With each breath we nourish our bodies, bring necessary oxygen to our organs and muscles and make life itself possible.  Generally, we are unconscious of the ongoing rhythm of our breathing and often it is only when we have difficulty breathing that we pay it any attention.

But this fundamental act of breathing is not only necessary to life, it is also a powerful tool in connecting to our sense of calm and centeredness.  Through breathing we can connect to our bodies, our own internal rhythms and the experience of being alive.

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The Truth About Anger

By Christy Matta, MA

  • Anger is a normal and natural feeling
  • Anger can serve an important purpose: It can help us to overcome difficult obstacles, right wrongs and stand up for ourselves. It can communicate to others—for example, an angry expression can say “don’t take advantage of me,” or “I won’t back down.”  It alerts us to those things that are important to us
  • Anger can stick around, long after it is useful
  • You may have had good reason to feel angry, but angry feelings can continue and be destructive, rather than helpful in your life.
  • Tuning into your body can alert you to anger: Clenched teeth, a hot face and tensed muscles are all signs of anger.
  • It is possible to be angry and stay in control of how you behave.
  • Retribution or making threats rarely results in feeling good about yourself.
  • Thinking about a situation and really putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can cool your temper.
  • Sometimes acting gently and expressing understanding (even if you don’t feel that way) can lead to productive discussion and resolving differences.
  • Leaving a situation to cool down can prevent you from saying or doing things that you’ll later regret.

When left unattended, strong emotions can lead to destructive behaviors.  Attending to times that you feel hurt, belittled, let down, disrespected, insulted or threatened is key to dealing with the anger that often comes from those experiences.

You can find more strategies to improve how you feel in my new book, The Stress Response and by clicking here to sign up for more of my tips and and here for podcasts using DBT strategies to improve how you feel.

Angry man photo available from Shutterstock.



A Simple Strategy to Let Go of Painful Thoughts and Feelings

By Christy Matta, MA

No one wants to experience pain.  Whether it’s physical, emotional or mental, once we’ve encountered pain, it’s natural to want it to end.

But, if you pay attention, you will likely find that there are certain emotionally or mentally painful circumstances that you get caught in.  Maybe it’s the angry thoughts about someone who has hurt you or pessimistic thinking about troubles you have faced.

Each of us has a tendency to get caught in certain types of thinking that prolongs painful emotions.  Instead of enjoying a relaxing evening, we might find ourselves ruminating on something hurtful someone said, or rather than solving a difficult problem and moving on, you may find you are again and again drawn to thoughts about how unfair your circumstances are.

Sometimes it seems as if the mind just wants to hold on to these painful thoughts and circumstances.  Even as we try to get rid of unpleasant thoughts, we may find ourselves rethinking and reliving painful situations.

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Unclutter Your Mind by Acting Like a Child

By Christy Matta, MA

`Do you remember being a child, when so much was new?  As a child, faced with new experiences throughout your day, you were much more likely to notice detail and richness in ordinary experiences.

A child can spend hours splashing in the water in a sink.  This is because the child approaches the water coming from the faucet as a beginner.  The water is interesting and miraculous.  In this case, the child doesn’t approach the water as if it already knows everything interesting about it.  It approaches the water as a beginner, as if there is so much to discover.

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Your Decision Making Style and Work Stress

By Christy Matta, MA

Do you exhaustively search for information and systematically evaluate alternatives when faced with decisions?  Or are you more likely to avoid decisions, come to conclusions based on a gut feeling or look to others for advice?

People approach decisions differently, but each person’s own individual style of making decisions tends to be the same over time.  Some people make choices and decisions with a logical and analytical thought process, while others are more intuitive and still others avoid making decisions at all.

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3 Personality Traits that Increase Stress Levels at Work

By Christy Matta, MA

No one is immune to stress at work.  It comes when demands are high, with job uncertainty, when you’re expected to perform tasks you’re not trained in or skilled at and when you are working with difficult people.

But, stress at work does not come from our work environments alone.  Work stress, like stress in other aspects of life, comes from external pressures and strain, as well as from our own disposition and internal experience of stress.

Individual differences affect how you think about situations in your life and how you deal with different situations.  For example, one person may think of a potential lay-off as a disaster that means their life is spinning out-of-control, while another may see the same potential lay-off as an opportunity to explore new options.

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5 Strategies to Survive Memorial Day Stress

By Christy Matta, MA

Does Memorial Day weekend mean summer, carefree days, barbeques and gatherings of family and friends for you? Or is your weekend tense, lonely or filled with holiday stressors such as traffic, crowds, bad weather, food gone bad, high expectations and conflict?

Or are you someone who hears about everyone else’s Memorial Day plans, knowing that you are one of the many who will be working?

These are are few strategies that you can use to deal with Memorial Day stressors:

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Recent Comments
  • Jean: extreme emOtions is dIfFicuLt to handle.why?Because theres a p0ssibility s0me thIngs becAme w0rSt and it can...
  • N P Duncan-Adam: The list of problems and difficulties experienced by an Individual is well covered here however the...
  • kathygram: She didn’t say how old her daughter is. If she is an adult, unless you have a release from your...
  • eugene: Well done! Good articulations and suggestions how to observe thoughts. Very encouraging, too.
  • emotionally&devotionally yours: hi there Chris: I get that you are trying to establish links between stress and...
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