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Don't Let Stress Control Your Life

June and her husband had owned a frame shop back east. After her husband died, she decided to open one in the resort town they'd recently moved to. She marketed to the public, as they had in their old business. But after a few months, she was barely paying her bills.

Because of the stress over her husband's death and the concern over her new shop, she couldn't think straight. One day, an interior designer friend came in to have a client's pictures matted and framed. After June told her friend of her situation, her friend suggested she call upon the other designers in the area. If they knew there was a knowledgeable framer in town, they would probably send her business.

By following this suggestion, June's business improved. With some of her stress relieved, she was able to be more innovative and thought of other potential marketing avenues. Within a short time, her business was solvent.

Have you ever been so stressed that you couldn't see the forest for the trees? We live in a fast paced world. Our technology alone can cause major stress. Then you add in other stressors, like family problems, work issues, difficulty paying the bills and you have a recipe for chronic stress.

The more constant stress is, the more sensitized you get to it. If that's the case, even the smallest hint of difficulty can cause stress chemicals to flood through your body. If you're already stressed, then you overreact to something you'd normally have taken in stride. A trivial event can seem like a catastrophe.

When you're under stress, you can't think clearly or make wise decisions. All your emotional resources are being used to deal with the stress. You fall back on past patterns that may or may not work now. Or you choose a short term, quick fix that won't last and isn't beneficial in the long term. The patch will cover up the immediate problem but you'll have to deal with a larger version of it later.

Stress clouds the mind and reduces creativity and innovation, so you can't find alternative solutions. You just don't have the mental reserves. Making effective plans becomes difficult because so much of your energy is devoted to simply surviving.

Stress also impacts learning. It prevents short term memories from transforming into long term ones. Many people under stress worry that they're developing dementia. But their stress is interfering with their memory. And this happens with short term, as well as long term, stress.

Our bodies were developed to survive in a dangerous world, where life or death situations were around every blade of grass. The chemicals stress releases into our bodies give us the strength and energy to fight from a danger or flee from it. It doesn't matter if the threat is mental, physical or imaginary. The mind doesn't distinguish between them and reacts to all of them the same.

We don't have much physical danger anymore, but we have lots of mental and imaginary dangers. Do you watch the news and get upset? The mind perceives the traumas there as part of your life, and sensitizes the brain even more. Even being on call in the evening to possibly have to answer an email increases stress hormones. Instead of flourishing, you're in survival mode.

To get back in control of your life and start thriving, you need to find ways to calm down the stress reactions in your brain. This isn't a quick fix, but a lifestyle change. By using stress reduction techniques each day, you desensitize yourself and improve your tolerance to stress.

Here are some quick techniques you can incorporate into your routine. Practice these several times a day to build up your resilience.

1. Deep breathing. Take a couple of minutes to take 3 long, slow deep breaths. These are from your belly, not your chest. Breathe in slowly to the count of 4, hold 4, then exhale 4 counts, hold 4, and then repeat. Each time you exhale, release the tension in your body.
2. Take a walk. This burns up the stress hormones that have been released into your body. It's also great for problem solving and planning.
3. Relax your body. Take a couple of minutes to sit and relax your shoulders, jaw, arms, back and legs. Release the tension, close your eyes and breathe. You'll go back to work refreshed.
4. Imagery. Take a minute and imagine yourself in a calm, beautiful place. It may be your front porch, a beach or the mountains. It may be real or imagined. But it must be someplace you feel calm and safe. Your mind will respond to it as if you're there and lower your stress response.

In addition to these remedies, the best results come when you include other activities routinely. For instance, meditation, mindfulness training, yoga, tai chi, biofeedback, relaxation therapy, self-hypnosis, listening to music, exercising, hiking in nature, acupuncture, and massage all can reduce the stress hormones in your body.

By using de-stressing techniques, you'll be more creative, happier, healthier, and able to make better decisions and plans. Your mind will be clearer and you'll likely get more done more easily. When you take control and counteract the stress response, you can lower your sensitivity to it, get unstuck and thrive.

Copyright © 2009-2023 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

As a focus coach, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, freedom, wellbeing and prosperity. Watch her FREE training video on Set Your Course to Success: 4 steps to strategically achieve your goals with confidence and ease. Register for the video and accompanying action planning guide at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.


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