Kathleen Hall is one of the nation's noted experts on stress management -- she's consoled Katrina survivors, counseled victims of domestic abuse, and advised families in hospitals coping with cancer and AIDS. But she didn't always hold this title.
More than 20 years ago, Hall was a successful stockbroker on Wall Street, with a supportive husband and two healthy children. But the late nights, high-stakes pressure, and stressful commute wore at her over the years, until one day she snapped. She quit her job, retreated for six months to a remote cabin in Clarksville, Georgia, and spent the next seven years pursuing degrees in divinity and spirituality. (Read Her Full Story)
On her journey to a stress-free life, here's what she learned.
Hall adopted a powerful but surprisingly simple mantra -- SELF, an acronym for serenity, exercise, love, and food -- and started teaching it to others to great effect. These "four roots of real happiness" may seem almost too easy, but she insists they have a centering effect in even the worst of circumstances.
"It's these basic, ordinary actions that ground you," she explains. "By attending to your roots each day, you learn to stay focused and intentional -- and stay true to your design."
Making time for serenity, for instance, creates space in our lives for meditation and stress reduction; exercise benefits the spirit and mind as well as the body; love and friendship bring physiological and emotional rewards; and nourishing food, consciously consumed, feeds the senses in a deeply satisfying way.
It's these simple things that keep us balanced, she says, and they make up Hall's 10 secrets to a stress-free life.
Change the way you approach the bleak information you get from the media. Don't shy away from knowing the facts -- apathy can prove as damaging to your spirit as stress or depression. But use what you learn to become part of the solution. Send light, positive energy and prayers to those suffering, while finding tangible ways to get involved. You're in a position of power and control. Embrace the media -- look at it and use it as your classroom.