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6 Surprising Stress Fixes

Strategy 6: Reflect on what you value

When your frazzle level is so high you feel yourself spiraling out of control, a quick way to re-center is to remind yourself of what's most important in your life. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, asked 85 people to complete a questionnaire ranking their values from what matters most to what matters least. Then the group was divided. Half the people were asked to talk about their top-ranked values; the other half discussed what mattered least to them. Afterward, everyone took part in a stress-inducing task (giving a five-minute speech in front of a heckling audience, then counting backward from 2,083 by 13s). People who'd reflected on their most cherished values had a lower stress response than those who'd discussed matters that didn't mean much. "Affirming your values changes the way you appraise a situation," says David Creswell, Ph.D., the study's lead author and a research scientist at UCLA. "In this case, the stressful event became less of a threat and more of a challenge." He suggests one way to put the research findings to work: In a stressful situation, think about people important to you, and how you've been a good mate, mother, daughter, sister, or friend. "Affirmations of close relationships are powerful sources to draw on," Creswell says.


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