how to fight stress

How to Fight Back at Stress, and Win

Before you can think about adding humanity, compassion or empathy to your workplace or with your customers, you really have to look at yourself and make sure you’re in the right head space to help others. It’s very true that you’re no help to others if you’re dealing with your own challenges. And the biggest killer: stress.

Work load, personal or professional relationships, your commute, sensory overload… stress can be cause by so many things and can have long lasting impacts on your health. It really is how you handle it that can determine your quality of life.

I asked about 100 people about how they tackle something that can have such on impact on your health, both mentally and physically. I hope it helps if you’re looking for some ideas.

Here are their answers to…


  • Meditation. I was skeptical but it works. I’m only at the stage of 5 minutes though, deep breathing through your belly and trying to clear your mind (I think about waves on the beach because frankly I can’t completely clear my mind I just can’t). And deep, slow breaking through your belly on it’s own helps too. Even while sitting at desk, in the middle of a presentation etc. no one knows you’re doing it
  • Organize and prioritize.
  • Relaxation techniques. Start at your toes and work your way through your body, relaxing one part at a time.
  • Run on a trail. The nature part really helps break the stress.
  • Treat yourself.
  • Acupuncture and massage.
  • Get away – out of the city. So much of our day to day stress-weight (is that a term?) rests in between the structures of our work life.
  • Breathe, and breathing consciously. Even if I cannot get to a quiet place to close my eyes, just refocusing even part of my mind on my breathing, bringing it into a counted-pattern, helps.
  • Plan to meet the kind of pals I know I’ll belly laugh and be silly with. If that doesn’t work, I crank music and dance.
  • Old standard: copious amounts of liquor. Glass of wine, anyone?
  • Writing or journalling works for me. Better out than in all the stuff that “seems” to be weighing me down.
  • One avenue I’ve been exploring lately is listening and reading Eckhart Tolle. It goes well beyond symptomatic relief of stress and delves at the bigger picture that drives everything. If it’s the right time, it’ll resonate with you.
  • Take others advice. Here’s a wise way to live and think from Captain Paul Watson – “Dealing with the Killer Called Stress“. Perhaps quite challenging at times but a good reminder that it is possible.
    or Dr. Travis Bradberry on How Successful People Stay Calm.
  • Exercise and sweat, good for the soul and the mind.
  • Escape. Go to the movies.
  • Look at it mentally. Stress is a choice, my friend.
  • Pay attention to sleep. For example: turn off all screens an hour before bedtime. Power down with a magazine or book with real pages.
  • Try some creativity.  Here’s a drawing exercise with monsters that I do sometimes. It’s from Sandra Boynton: make a scribble on the page. In five minutes, turn it into a monster. Then label that monster with something that you have to get done, something that’s bothering you. Then repeat for 2-3 more times. It’s low-tech fun way of confronting your stressors.
  • Learn to identify and let go of stuff that is Not My Stuff To Worry About! It’s helped me the most. It’s all about the Cinnamon Bun. Letting go of stuff on the outside layers and focusing on the stuff in the tasty centre. Your health, your family, your true friends, not the nuts on the outside of the bun. And realizing that it’s who you are not what you do that is important.
  • Nature. Get away to the ocean. Gardening, long walks (usually around a lake or by the ocean), paddle boarding, hill climbing. 
  • I stop drinking coffee. It clears the head and is a big help!
  • When you leave work, take a couple seconds in your transition space (car, walk to the bus), close your eyes, take a few deep breaths (breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 8 counts) and imagine as you breathe out that your breath is pushing all the weight of stress away.
  • Talk about it, with a lot of laughing and open communication with people you trust.
  • Grin. Bear it. Push through. Remember: This too shall pass.
  • Use Mantras: When I am hauling my sorry ass up a hill whilst mountian biking i say to myself I am focused and I am positive and i am happy and I am brave. when I am riding to work I have another mantra. The point being that picking good times to get yourself centrered provides a centre when the stress comes along.
  • Heavy Metal music, turned up to mind shearing volume. (not for everyone but I understand)
  • Get Active: golf, fishing, get on a bike and shred some trails, yoga, dance, swim, hike, sex.
  • Hugs, time alone to reflect and rest.
  • Check the EFF out. Have a guilt-free Netflix binge day.
  • Drink champagne and listen to great music.
  • Remember: Expectations are the death of serenity. 
  • Avoid, alter, adapt, accept, make time, adopt. Here’s a stress management checklist.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Peace and Quiet: peacefulness, sitting on the deck relaxing gazing out at the world. Lie under the stars tonight with a beer and feel totally insignificant …that always feels good.
  • Gun range!
  • Paint a rock. Colouring apparently has been announced to the world as a great stress release.
  • Hand write a letter to someone special and mail it. 
  • Emptying my brain, organizing it so that it never need be full again.
  • I eat. All. The. Things! (try to make it healthy)
  • Say no to new projects.
  • Focus on the prize, not the path.
  • Ditch THE MAN. All stress in my life was reduced by 90% when I stopped working for someone else (a job) and started working for myself.
  • Try to remember the tunnel analogy. Put my head down eyes straight ahead and keep driving till I see the light of day.
  • Look into CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Everybody deals with stress differently. What works for you may not work for someone else, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have some ideas that you hadn’t thought of. Hopefully one of these suggestions will help the next time you are feeling overwhelmed. At least it might stop you from taking it out on others.

How do you handle stress? Share in the comments below.


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