Helpful wisdom, compassion and care for you

Yes! You can balance stress!

You can balance stress - Love Jo by Jo Cooper

We all have stress in our lives. The thing is how to manage our stress, so we don’t become overwhelmed, go over the brink, and even get sick.

Imagine a glass of water. Each stress adds to the volume of water, and if we have too much stress, the glass overflows — at which point we may manifest symptoms of illness. On the flip side, we can take good care of ourselves and be mindful about balancing those stressors that we can — so the level of water stays lower in the glass.

Sources of stress might include:

  • Relationships, job, grief or loss
  • Environmental toxins, such as polluted air or water, toxins in food, cosmetics, skincare products, and household cleaners; electromagnetic radiation
  • Illnesses, infections, allergens, inflammation
  • Lack of quality food, water, exercise or healthy sleep
  • Financial stress from insufficient income, debt, or crisis
  • Loneliness, lack of community or spiritual connection

We can’t control everything, but we can control some things!

The goal is to keep the volume of water down in the glass. And while as individuals we can’t control air quality, we can consider purchasing an air filter for our bedroom, so we spend 8 or more hours per day breathing in clean air. We can choose healthy green cleaners, safe skin care products and good, clean food. The Environmental Working Group’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™  and Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database are excellent resources to guide our purchases.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by parenting, work or caregiving responsibilities, for example, try developing a Gratitude Practice. Spend just a few moments each evening listing 2 things you are grateful for that day. By changing the channel to something positive, you balance difficulty with joy, and replenish your inner resources rather than constantly depleting them. Join my friend Tanmeet Sethi’s Gratitude Community for inspiration to live from the soul, and heal your mind, body and spirit.

When you are worried, frustrated or angry about your job or circumstances — or even if you’re not — go for a long walk! Breathe deeply, note the beautiful world around you, let the tensions fall away. Walking can literally rebalance your hormones, reducing cortisol and potentially lowering inflammation. Walking in nature has been found to improve brain functioning; reduce cortisol levels, blood pressure and heart rate; and boost our immune systems. I do my best to walk ½ hour to an hour a day.

If you are struggling with relationships, I recommend therapy! Find a therapist, who really fits you and don’t hesitate to shop around until you do. Therapy can be like taking a fascinating personal class on human relations. You learn so much of value! My therapist helped me transform my life, and I am forever grateful to her. Every once in a blue moon now, I go see her for advice. Otherwise, I feel very steady on my own two feet. She taught me how 🙂

Feeling sluggish? Focus on the basics: food, water, exercise and sleep. Eat a fresh lentil salad full of greens, veggies and herbs. Lentils are like little magic saucers of energy, greens and veggies are essential and herbs are especially power-packed sources of phytonutrients. Watch your water intake all day and stay well hydrated. Walk, run, dance! Turn off screens an hour before sleep and lull yourself to dreamland with a good book.

Financial stress? Jim Gordon, my old boss at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, said that meditation can’t put money in your bank account but it can help prepare your mind to make better choices. Develop and maintain a meditation practice! It will help every corner of your life. Even 10 minutes a day is sufficient to create positive results. My post Meditation: Getting started, keeping going will help you do just that!

If you haven’t yet found your tribe, there are so many ways to do so! Join us at The Center for Mindful Living here in DC or at any Insight Meditation Community of Washington events in MD, DC and VA. My friend Sharon has found multiple communities through Meetup leading to new friendships and wonderful experiences. My friend Jan developed friendships and community through volunteering. Your help is needed! Your friendship is wanted.

Can you see it? The level of water in the glass is lowering to just the right amount to nourish a loving and joyful life 🙂


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  1. Thanks for showing the complete picture of how we can manage stress.

    • Jo

      Thank you, Daemon!!! Your kind comment means a lot to me. And I really hope this post helps people to have a gentle, flexible way of picturing and managing stress. xo

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