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stress & our financial markets

Q:As most Americans, I have been very afraid about the dire reports I am hearing everyday in the news regarding the financial turmoils of our country. Can you give me any advice on what to do about my stress?
A:I am sorry you are feeling afraid, and I can understand your fear. Many of us read on a daily basis about the changes that are occurring financially—the dipping of the financial markets, the loss of jobs, the ending of seemingly well-established financial corporations—and we feel afraid.
When stress kicks in, often our emotions are high and our intellect is low. Our brain is in survival mode when we are in a state of stress and it is not a great idea to deal with your finances if your emotions are very high. You want to make sure you are in a centered place when you think about what you would like to do with your finances.
The next issue is the feeling of control.The truth is that there is very little we can control outside of ourselves. With practice, we can control our reaction to these events by monitoring our stress signature.You want to make sure that you are not over-stressing yourself. That will affect your immune system response.
We can learn to control our reaction to negative events by monitoring our stress signature.Thus, one of your responsibilities during this time is to continue developing an increased awareness of your reaction to this financial stress, and make sure that you are not overly stressing yourself.
We know we can change the stress reaction through practice, so you want to make sure that you are practicing the plethora of techniques I’ve been offering these past several years in my column.
At the end of this column, I’ll give you an example of how to practice my techniques. People who practice stress management techniques literally develop a resistance to stress.
As a quick review, make sure you are practicing an instant technique such as diaphragmatic breathing 1-4-2 (1—breathe in; 4—hold your breath; 2—breathe out slowly through your mouth). We know that when the out breath is greater than the in breath the body relaxes. We also know that the simple act of separating your jaw will send a signal to the body to relax.
Since I am not a financial planner, I can’t give you advice on how to deal with your finances, but when any type of stressor occurs, even one that is affecting all of us in some way or another, it is important to do our best to remain calm, and to have many tools in our tool chest.

Relaxation Resource
Recognizing that many of us do not have a way to deal with stress in a productive way, working with a software engineer and a clinical psychologist, I’ve developed a software program that is convenient and accessible to help you relax in as little as 20 seconds or as long as 20 minutes.There are eight powerful and instant multi-sensory relaxation techniques which involve my guiding you into a state of relaxation, with both calming imagery and relaxing music.
Time Warner offers this program to all their employees and a major financial institution currently uses it globally. An HR manager of one of the largest companies in the world called it, “immediate, impactful and effective.” This software program uses the most requested instant techniques from my corporate seminars. For those readers who feel that they are overly stressed and would like a powerful resource, I am offering this program at a substantial discount over the usual $99.95 cost on my website.
If you are interested in having an excellent resource for relaxing anytime, and having a powerful and cutting-edge tool for managing stress, I will be offering this relaxation software at $39.95. Mention that you found this offer in Healthwise Magazine, and I will include an e-book of instant relaxation techniques as well as a one-hour interview in which I provide information on what stress is doing to us, and specific tools for dealing with stress, at no additional charge.
You can request my program at rlf@stress-solutions.com and I will forward you the software, the e-book and the one hour interview. This program also makes a thoughtful gift for friends and family members.
It is important to have numerous tools for relaxing. Stress has been linked to both physical and psychological problems. Stress has been linked to heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, aging (stress ages our cells by 10 years), type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. If you have stress at this time, I highly recommend that you find resources for your stress. Whether it is my product or someone else’s product or program, do something positive for yourself. You deserve it!

Robert Lawrence Friedman, MA, is a psychotherapist, coach, author and recognized leader in the field of stress management. He is the president of Stress Solutions, Inc., a corporation that has provided stress management programs to corporations and health care institutions for more than two decades. He has appeared on Discover Health Channel, CNBC, Today in New York on NBC, Fox News and others; he has been interviewed by the Washington Times and Cosmopolitan magazine, among others. He is the director of the Queens College Corporate Stress Management Training Program (www.qc.edu). He has recently created five DVDs of his stress management workshops, as well as a relaxation imagery CD which can be found at his website www.stress-solutions.com or by calling 212-229-7779.

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