Think You've Got Stress?

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Visualize and Experiment

Visualize success.

As a sergeant in the Naperville, Illinois, police department, Elizabeth Brantner, 41, has worked as a youth-abuse investigator and an undercover narcotics officer. Twice she was involved in standoffs with gunfire. Off the job, she's a single mom to 6-year-old Alexa.

Although she's no longer a beat cop, Brantner uses her experience to train female officers to use detailed visualization techniques to deal with stress. For example, Brantner asks them to visualize the beginning of an armed conflict, taking cover once they spot a suspect, resolving the situation and returning home safely.

The technique, which Brantner uses often, also helps her through other stressful moments, including high-pressure meetings with her bosses. It's important to visualize the event exactly as you want it to happen, from start to finish, she says. "If you worry that something bad will happen, that can cause stress and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. But with practice, visualization can help replace your fears with positive images," says Brantner.

Try a new hobby.

As a violinist with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, in North Carolina, Emily Chatham's typical weekend includes two rehearsals on Friday, a practice session, three wedding performances and a concert on Saturday, and a rehearsal and another performance on Sunday.

Chatham, 41, a mother of two with another baby on the way, used to ride horses to release the tension. Then she found a hobby that was easier to fit in her schedule: belly dancing. "Every time I saw it, I thought, 'It's so beautiful and graceful and erotic,'" she says. "It has become very empowering."

Chatham has now been taking lessons for four years and has kept with it even through her pregnancy. "Symphony musicians have a lack of control over their work," she says. "We are told what and where to play, and even how and when to play it. Belly dancing is very freeing."

Continued on page 3:  Make Family Time and Seek Help


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