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Not all stress is bad

Try thinking that stress is not all bad. After all, stressful situations get your attention so that you are motivated to make a change. If you didn't feel stress, you wouldn't be inclined to change anything, would you?

Let the stress of this situation work its motivation on you. Let it charge you up and energize you to get the job in front of you done.

Here are some positive, energizing ways to face the tasks ahead of you.

Don't focus on the trivial

You've just had a wake-up call that life is what is happening now. Take that message to heart. Do what you love. Do what matters most to you. Think of ways to nurture your spirituality or faith. And do it now.

Don't spend most of your time and use up your energy on unimportant matters. Focus on the what's really important to you.

Focus on the positive

How you look at it is your choice. If you can't find something positive in your life right now, ask friends or a therapist to help you. Zoom in on what's positive in your life and crop the negative part out of the picture that you paint for yourself each day.

Along with finding something positive, be something positive. Bring a smile, a wink, a joke to work. Life isn't always funny or fun, but humor is almost always healing and loving.

Like stress, negative emotions are not all bad. They get our attention and often are important. The key is not to dwell on them; however, it is equally dangerous to ignore them or detour around them.

Love yourself first

Eat right, exercise right, sleep right, do things that are spiritually nurturing. Everyone who loves you will appreciate it.

Surround yourself with support

Don't keep your worries, fears, successes and triumphs to yourself. Share what's going on with you with family, friends and co-workers. Turn to them for comfort and a shared smile.

Get help and ask for more

When people offer to help you, take them up on it and assign them one small task. Everyone can manage that much, and when spread around, the work isn't too much.

Learn something new

Pick up a new hobby. Make a new friend. Start a new interest. Keep yourself fresh and your interest in life high.

Do it now

There's a special stress involved in putting a task or decision off. Practice doing things now, and keep from building up a list of "to do" items that hang over your head.


Can't think of a reason? A good friend is visiting. Your grandchildren are on the phone. Your rosebush just bloomed. Stop. Breathe. Smile. Feel thankful. Make a celebration somewhere in each day.

Be patient with yourself

You won't learn everything you need to know about your heart condition overnight, and you won't remember it all the first time. You won't start out exercising perfectly, and you might make mistakes in your eating plan.

Moving through stages of transition isn't always orderly. Backsliding and/or getting stuck at a stage is typical and normal. Keep at it. Don't quit. That's more heroic than getting it right the first time.

Holding on to the past is tempting, but the fun in life is in what lies ahead. Find a reason to wake up with enthusiasm each day.

Stay open-minded. Whatever happens, you can adjust. See if you can find the benefits and opportunities in each change facing you.



Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Helping Your Heart, fourth edition, cvs-ahc-90648

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 06/01/2007

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education experts