Stress be gone: How to go from peeved to poised

Stress may be the common denominator of the 20th and 21st centuries. Everyone seems to have too much stress and too few stress-busting tools to handle it well

In fact, I find people more willing to joke about their stress than do something constructive to manage or eliminate it.

For example, instead of eating and drinking correctly, one person joked, “Booze is great stuff. It makes you see double and feel single.” And one of my relatives added, “I read this article that said the typical symptoms of stress are eating too much, impulse buying, and driving too fast. Are they kidding? That’s my idea of a perfect day.”

Deep down, stress is not funny, however. It destroys your peace of mind. It hurts your health, endangers your relationships, and lowers your productivity.

Here are a few things you can do to get your stress under control.

► 1. Learn how to go from peeved to poised.

That’s an actual quote in Rob Peck’s book, It’s A Juggle Out There. And it’s great advice.

Rob says when he is running late for an appointment, two phrases vie for his attention: “Oh hell!” and “Oh well!” Both are short phrases, spelled almost the same, but the difference made by that one letter has a surprisingly large consequence.

Of course, I’m not advocating profanity and neither is Rob. But think about it. When you think or utter “oh hell,” you set yourself up to feel put out, angry, and defiant. “Oh well” helps you stay calm and upbeat.

The oh-hell reaction, just like the name suggests, makes you hot under the collar. You actually sweat.

By contrast, the oh-well reaction immediately puts you in a frame of mind of what you can do to accept, adapt to, and deal with your stressful situation. Instead of feeling like a victim, you move into a take-control mode of decision making and problem solving.

In a somewhat similar vein, when I asked my 104-year old friend Curtis Rhoades the secret of his longevity, he responded, “When it rains, I let it.”

► 2. Keep your sense of humor in shape.

It needs to be exercised, just like your body, so it lessens your stress when you need it to do so.

In fact, if you read the email I sent you yesterday, I attached the “75 of the World’s Best One-Liners.” Enjoy them, especially now, when every newscast seems to broadcast more gloom and doom with more crises and uncertainty.

Laughter is good for you … just as long as you don’t use it to deny the existence of your stress or as an excuse to sit on your butt and do nothing about eradicating your stress.

I actually collect humorous things, keep them on hand, and look at them once in a while to keep me stress resistant.

One such thing is a Halloween card from my friend Scott Friedman. It contained “The Top 10 Most Frightening Country Song Titles.” They are:

  • “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?”
  • “You Can’t Have Your Kate And Edith Too”
  • “If You Won’t Leave Me, I’ll Find Someone Who Will”
  • “I’m So Miserable Without You, It’s Like Having You Here”
  • “Mama, Get the Hammer (There’s A Fly on Papa’s Head)”
  • “My Wife Ran Off with My Best Friend, And I Sure Do Miss Him”
  • “If My Nose Were Full of Nickels, I’d Blow Them All on You”
  • “I’ve Got You on My Conscience, But, At Least, You’re Off My Back”
  • “Take Me to The Corn Field, Honey, And I’ll Kiss You Between the Ears”
  • “Welcome to Dumpsville, Population U”

Scott got me laughing and my stress for that moment, and that day, just slipped away. In fact, he even inspired me to goof around and make up my own silly song titles to add to his list. I wrote this one as a joke for a relationship class I’m teaching: “It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Butt All Day Long.”

Don’t let stress get you down. Take it down, instead!

And one of the best ways I know to beat the stress and take control of your life, your career, and your relationships is to take my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program being offered November 12-13, 2020.

► 3. Say “no” more often.

Start by making a small commitment of time to figure out what you want. Start reflecting on such questions as: “Am I working too hard? Am I working at a job I don’t enjoy? Am I letting important things clutter up my life? Are my kids draining all my energy?”

If you are answering “yes” to too many of those kinds of questions, then it’s time to start saying “no” more often.

In fact, you will never have a less stressful and more balanced life if you can’t say “no.”

Of course, that means you have to figure out your priorities. Because once you know your priorities it’s easier to say “no” when people try to pull you in directions you don’t want to go. As Roy Disney often said, “When your values are clear, decisions are easy.”

So figure out your priorities and values. And then say “no” to everything that doesn’t align with those guidelines in your life.