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Managing Daily Emotions and Stress with the help of Dr. Carlson

By: Leah Hovey

This month's theme is focused on daily emotions and mental health. Throughout the day we can experience various emotions. The emotions we have impact how we react to specific occurrences in our lives, how we manage our relationships with the people around us, and how we portray ourselves on a daily basis. As simple as our emotions may seem, they truly influence us and impact our lives significantly.


Our emotions can negatively impact us in many ways. Emotions such as anger, sadness, fear or disgust can lead to intense symptoms of anxiety or stress. This can cause emotional stress to an individual who can, in turn, lead to physical symptoms such as exhaustion, stomach problems, headaches, changes in appetite and a lack of sex drive (American Psychological Association, 2018). This is why stress is such a significant, yet untreated problem within many North Americans.


Dr. Richard Carlson is a psychologist who has used his experience within the psychotherapy field to create books that can help individuals with managing stress. I examined how work-related stress can impact us in a previous blogpost, but I now will be discussing his life-changing book that influenced his career the most.


"Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff" is a self-help book that has positively impacted readers and helped them manage their stress on a daily basis. This book dives into various coping strategies that help us manage our emotions, regulate these emotions and help us to cope with daily stress caused by these emotions.

To give readers an idea of the various tips this book has, I will dive into some of my favourite chapters of the book.


1. Once a week write a heartfelt letter

This activity allows you to get in touch with your positive emotions and it will help you become aware of the people who add to your life – not those who cause stress.


2. Be happy where you are

So many people do not take the time to take in their surroundings. By taking a moment out of your day to admire what is around you (whether it be nature, the memorizing buildings around you or even looking into your children’s eyes) can really impact your mood and make you realize that even if you are not where you want to be, there is still beauty where you are at that moment.


3. Everyday tell at least one person something you like or admire about them

This tip helps you get in touch with your positive feelings and can boost your mood by making another individual happy with a compliment.


4. Think of your problems as potential teachers

Instead of focusing on these situations with overly negative emotions, try to look at these problems as teaching tools that will help push you forward in life.


5. Acknowledge the totality of your being

Knowing that you are experiencing various emotions – good or bad – is a gift in itself. The next time you may feel jealous, instead of trying to push that feeling away acknowledge it! Embrace that yes, you are a human being and you are lucky to feel such vast emotions! Attaching unnecessary guilt to very natural emotions we feel causes more self-hatred and less self-acceptance.


6. If someone throws you the ball, you don’t have to catch it

Just because an individual may be trying to push their emotions onto yours (whether they are happy or sad) does not mean you are required to feel them as well. You can give support WITHOUT having to feel this emotion the way they do.


7. Listen to your feelings- they are trying to tell you something

Dr. Carlson said it best, “You can think of your negative feelings in the same way you think of the warning lights on the dashboard of your car. When flashing, they let you know that its time to ease up.” (p.218)


8. Become aware of your moods and don’t allow yourself to be fooled by the low ones

Awareness of your emotions is not a sign of weakness it is, in fact, a sign of strength and a way of monitoring yourself. In the same breath, remember that even though you may be feeling low, you still can experience positive emotions as well.


Richard Carlson’s book is full of many tips like these. His book provides readers with various ways to manage stress and your emotions. I highly reccomend reading it!

To learn more or to purchase his books, visit http://dontsweat.com/books/ .


References:


Carlson, R. (2014). Don’t sweat the small stuff-- and its all small stuff: Simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life. New York: Hachette Books.


The Impact of Stress. (2011). American Psychological Association. Retrieved November 9, 2018, from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2011/impact.aspx

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