Dan Trathen DMin, PhD Clinical Psychologist & Certified Business & Life Coach

Distracting Stress: Give Yourself a Hand

There have been several times in my life when I have been overwhelmed by stressful situations. It has been helpful for me to use a hands-on grounding approach by employing the “Five Finger Exercise” during these times. This exercise is simple and easy to do. Let me explain. As you read this take a look at your left hand, palm up. First, touch your thumb to your index finger. As you do this think about a time when you had just finished a hard, but good physical workout. You may have had a vigorous walk, jogged or biked several miles, or maybe done aerobics.   How does it feel when you are done with your workout? Take a moment and experience that feeling. Second, touch your thumb to your middle finger. As you do this, reflect back to a time when you experienced “love” from a special person. Was it through a gift you received, or maybe a caring note or a warm embrace? Take another moment and feel that feeling. Third, touch your thumb to your ring finger. As you do this, think back to the nicest compliment you ever received. Maybe your teacher, boss, or close friend gave you special recognition for something you did. Try to accept this compliment even now. Take a moment to feel this positive feeling toward you. Fourth, touch your thumb to your little finger. As you do this, think back to the most beautiful place you’ve ever been. Could it have been while you were traveling on vacation or business? Wherever and however you experienced it, you said to yourself, “I want to go back there someday.” Stay there for a few minutes and feel the peace and serenity.

I call this exercise, “Giving Yourself a Hand”. It takes less than 5 minutes to do and will help you gain perspective and reconnect with the “long view” of your life and to your loved ones. So give yourself a hand every couple of days when you feel tension and stress–you deserve it! If you want to stop the corrosion caused by stress in your life, you have to put your foot down and give yourself a hand.

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