Ever feel like blowing up or melting R down? Whether it's due to cramped living quarters or cranky coworkers, almost everyone feels stressed occasionally.

Women are especially vulnerable: They typically feel tremendous pressure to remain calm—to serve as family peacemaker or to project professionalism at work—but physiological responses to stress make this tough.

Example: Your ex-husband threatens to Boycott your son's graduation, or your department is given an impossible deadline. Your body reacts by producing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which elevate your blood pressure and flood your bloodstream with glucose sugar) Heart racing, palms sweating and stomach churning, you feel like your body has been hijacked by your emotions. The more you worry about losing control the more your stress hormones rise.

Solution: Practice mindfulness, a technique rooted in Buddhist tradition. It can calm and focus the mind on the heart rate, reduce the need for oxygen and quickly ease muscle tension. The basics...

1. Assess what's happening not in the situation, but within yourself. Are your hands shaking? Head pounding? Recognizing these signs for what they are normal responses to stress reduces their power to upset you further

2. Be compassionate toward yourself instead of a judgmental rebuke ("Crying again? Big baby! silently say, "My body is giving me a message. I will listen and learn from it."

3. Shift your focus. Rather than fretting about a physiological response that you can control such as a flushed face or choked voice, concentrate on one you can control your breathing Slow, deep, rhythmic inhalations and exhalations help you to regain a sense of mastery over your physical reactions

4. Reconnect with your body and disconnect from the crisis around you. Take a quick walk, do some yoga poses in the restroom, or simply close your eyes and gently massage your temples for a few moments.

5. Take action Consciously free your mind from resentful or hopeless thoughts (“My ex is a jerk!” or “I'm just no good at this job”). Reflect calmly on specific solutions, such as family counseling or assistance from workers that will allow you to regain control over the situation—and yourself.

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