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Heart Failure and Stress Management

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How Can I Keep a Positive Attitude?

A positive attitude and self-esteem are good defenses against stress, because they help you view stress as a challenge rather than a problem. A positive attitude keeps you in control when there are inevitable changes in your life. A positive attitude means telling yourself there are things you can do to improve certain situations and admitting that sometimes there's nothing you can do.

To maintain a positive attitude during a stressful situation (or to prepare yourself for a potentially stressful situation), keep these tips in mind:

  • Stay calm. Stop what you're doing. Breathe deeply. Reflect on your choices.
  • Always tell yourself you can get through the situation.
  • Try to be objective, realistic, and flexible.
  • Try to keep the situation in perspective. Think about the possible solutions. Choose one that is the most acceptable and feasible.
  • Think about the outcome: Ask yourself, what is the worst possible thing that can happen? Chances are that won't happen.
  • Tell yourself that you can learn something from every situation.

How Can I Reduce My Stressors?

While it is impossible to live your life completely stress-free, it is possible to reduce the harmful effects of certain stressors. Here are some suggestions:

  • First identify the stressor. What's causing you to feel stressed?
  • Avoid hassles and minor irritations if possible. For example, if traffic jams cause you stress, try taking a different route, riding the train or bus or car-pooling.
  • When you experience a change in your life, try to continue doing the things that you enjoyed before the change occurred.
  • Learn how to manage your time effectively, but be realistic and flexible when you plan your schedule.
  • Do one thing at a time; concentrate on each task as it comes.
  • Take a break when your stressors compile to an uncontrollable level.
  • Ask for help if you feel that you are unable to deal with stress on your own.

How Can I Learn How to Relax?

In order to cope with stress, you need to learn how to relax. Relaxing is a learned skill -- it takes commitment and practice. Relaxation is more than sitting back and being quiet. Rather, it's an active process involving techniques that calm your body and mind. True relaxation requires becoming sensitive to your basic needs for peace, self-awareness, and thoughtful reflection. The challenge is being willing to meet these needs rather than dismissing them.

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