By Amy Wong
3 Stress-Relieving Techniques from Norman Vincent Peale
April is Stress Awareness Month. That’s what an email from my health insurance company informed me this morning. As if I weren’t already uncomfortably aware of my stress level, which is escalating the closer we get to tax day (can you tell I haven’t finished mine yet?).
But I know having a negative attitude isn’t going to ease my stress (or get my taxes done any faster). So I turned to these simple stress-relieving techniques from the foremost practitioner of the power of positive thinking, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. Try one (or all) for yourself.
Sit relaxed in a chair with both feet lightly on the floor. Think of your mind as the surface of a storm-tossed lake. Now picture the waves subsiding, the water becoming as smooth as glass.
Spend a few minutes reliving the most peaceful scenes you’ve ever beheld—a beach at sunset, a green valley in the hush of morning. They have a way of cleansing your mind of worries.
Repeat—slowly, bringing out the melody in each—a series of calming words. “Peace, tranquility, serenity, quietness ...”
The last one is very similar to the relaxation response (you may have read about it in our article on 12 all-natural stress busters). Though popularized in the 1970s by pioneer in mind-body medicine Herbert Benson, it’s an age-old technique, as Dr. Benson himself points out, that people have used (and still do) in yoga, tai chi and prayer.
If tax day or something else has sent your stress level skyrocketing, evoke the relaxation response. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes and relax your muscles. Breathe naturally and repeat a word, phrase or prayer (like “peace,” “The Lord is my shepherd” or “shalom”) silently or aloud. When other thoughts come to mind, let them go and return to your repetition. Do this for 10 minutes or so.
Don’t you feel more relaxed? I know I do.
Amy Wong is the executive editor of Guideposts and was a founding editor of Positive Thinking. She lives in New York City with her adopted dog, Winky, a natural-born positive thinker who believes that everyone has a treat for her and every day is the best day of her life. Amy hopes to be that optimistic someday (she’s working on it!).