4 Ways to Stretch Instead of Stress


“A boat is always safe in the harbor, but that’s not what boats were built for.”

– shared by Katie Couric, the Women’s Conference 2009

If you are in your stress zone all the time, you have to ask yourself what role you have in creating this atmosphere for yourself. Perhaps you are a busy CEO, an entrepreneur, or a parent with three children and no help. All are valid reasons to be stressed, but there are plenty of CEOs and parents who are not stressed all the time.

You can experience stress both from positive and negative events. Some people may get stressed as a result of receiving a promotion at work and having new responsibilities. Others may experience stress when preparing for a dinner party when they have limited free time and their house is a mess. Stress levels can also be affected by external negative events, such as losing your job or health insurance, having a fight with your spouse, or gaining weight. Stress levels become unhealthy when your body and mind are constantly under pressure. Learn to be aware of your stress levels and how much you can handle without detracting from your performance.

Here are four effective strategies to help you spend more time stretching and less time stressing:

1. Schedule Your Priorities Rather Than Prioritize Your Schedule

Many people are tempted to make their schedule and then figure out what’s important. The problem with this approach is the things that are important do not make it on the schedule. If you simply prioritize your schedule, there will be little time for the things that matter. If reading to your child is a top priority, you have to make the time. If working out is important, you need to schedule it in. Top 1%ers schedule their priorities so that important events make it on the calendar. Creating time for priorities is about being proactive.

2. Do It, Dump It, or Delegate It

Your choices are either to do something yourself, dump it and forget about it, or delegate it. Too many people believe that delegating is impossible. The purpose of delegating is to free up time to focus on your priorities. It often involves giving up some control so that you can put your energy to better use elsewhere. You may be used to doing a task and think it is easier and quicker to do it yourself. This is the mindset that keeps you from delegating. Remember to focus on your strengths and empower others by utilizing theirs.

Initially, you may have to invest some time, but in the long run you will free up your mind. Keep in mind that when you delegate, it often helps someone else expand his or her role. Let’s say your house is in disarray and you feel overwhelmed, but need to focus on other projects. Even if you do not have a housekeeper it may be helpful to hire someone for one day to come in and clean your house. This one step will free up hours of your time and reduce your stress.

3. Say No

Yes, that is correct. You do not have to say yes to everything that comes your way. You can only do something about your stress level if you pinpoint what causes your stress. Think about how stressed you are on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest). When you reach a 7 or higher, your self-defense mechanisms need to kick in. This means saying no when you are asked to take on too much or do one more favor. It is okay to take care of YOU INC. first (also see https://possibilitychange.com/ways-to-feel-empowered/). There is no better way to thrive. Sometimes the best choice you can make is to use the word no to protect yourself. When you start to prioritize yourself and make changes, some friends will support your new behavior and others will challenge you, so be prepared.

4. Focus on the Present Moment

Children are rarely stressed because they live in the present moment. They do not worry if the playground will be closed or if they will have time to take a bath before dinner. They are present with what they are doing in the moment which keeps their minds focused.

When you are fully engaged in the present moment and focus on one task at a time, your mind is clear. You increase your stress levels when you obsess about something from the past or spend time worrying about the future. You can’t change the past and you do not control the future. Identify the most important priorities and then tackle one at a time. Strive to stay in the present moment, and your anxiety and stress levels will be more manageable. Focus on what you can control such as your thoughts and actions.

Top 1% Bottom Line: Change is constant. Stress is inevitable. The part we control is how we will handle it and if we will spend more time in our stretch zone or stress zone. The stretch zone keeps us moving forward while the stress zone is often overwhelming. Choose where you operate best and build practices to keep you moving forward. Please share your favorite practices so we can all learn and lead a better life.

Photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto

15 thoughts on “4 Ways to Stretch Instead of Stress”

  1. I’ve heard alot about being in the present moment lately. It seems to have alot of benefits. Some of them include, Reduced stress, anxiety, depression, anger, worry, ADD…. Shall I go on?

  2. “Change is constant. Stress is inevitable.”
    Yes it is! The key is to be able to handle it properly. I think you have outlined quite nicely what need to be done to handle it well.
    The part that I struggle with most is saying ‘no’. Ugh, that part gets me. Someone asks me for help, I usually drop what I am doing and go to help. This puts me behind. And it get worse when they come back for more help:).

    Don’t get me wrong, I love to help, but there are some things that are just a waste of time for me. Butttt, I feel compelled to help anyway. :)

  3. Hi Alissa,
    Classic reminders especially No’s 1&2…..was well trained & rehearsed in that in my Bank Manager days. Focussing on the present & making the most of it is the way to go. “The Prescious Present” as Ken Blanchard put it. Great stuff, Thank you.
    be good to yourself

  4. I became a big fan of saying no years ago. It’s not real popular in our society but I seldom do what everyone else does.

    Learning to delegate is so huge if we want to be able to eliminate some stress in our lives.

  5. Good comments, thank you for sharing! The interesting part is that by saying “no” we are actually saying “yes” to making ourselves a priority. This is important because change starts with each one of us.

  6. I like this one ” 4. Focus on the Present Moment” this is very true. And we can always learn so much from watching children.

    If we would all take a little time each day to be a child, it would cut down on our stress level.
    thank Alissa for this great points for getting rid of the stress.
    Who doesn’t want to do away with stress, all it does is age you faster.
    Blessing to you,

  7. Thanks Alissa, Peter and Debbie Bills for RT. I love this post.. Great ideas and suggestions.

    I will be saving these as wonderful reminders. # 1 is my favorite. “Schedule your priorities rather than prioritizng your schedule” I need to do this. Thanks again.

    Have a GRATE-Ful day !


  8. I feel all points are valid and relevant.

    It has become really important that modern generation needs to deal with stress properly. Because, you can’t avoid it. It’s there everywhere. However, it depends on how much clutter we have around us and how many tasks we are doing and what are really important amongst those.

    If we accept too many tasks and surrender ourselves to deadlines, stress is bound to attack us. Accept less, do quality work and have a nice work-life balance. Minimize the stress. Planning in well advance also help us to minimize the stress to a great extent.

  9. Great points, Alissa,

    Your first point “Schedule Your Priorities Rather Than Prioritize Your Schedule” did resonate with me. I noticed that what I really do and what is on my schedule, is often not the same. While reading your post, I realize that I don’t always schedule the most important things, because I think they will be done anyway. This often brings me in a situation where I have too less time for the important things and too much time for the less important things.

    And is I don’t schedule my most important priorities, others will put their priorities in my schedule instead.

    Thanks for letting me think.

  10. Good strategies to help us control the stress in our lives. “Do it, dump it, or delegate it” is key in helping us focus on the critical things that we have to do. I also have found that saying “no” and focusing on the present to be invaluable tools in reducing my stress. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Great ideas, Alissa, as we all learn to juggle all of lifes responsibilities with all our own hopes and desires and all our roles and needs and goals in life.

    You’re right about how stressful it can all become. And while stress is inevitable, as Dr. Hans Selye used to always say, distress is not inevitable. Stress is the outside pressure that is part of being alive and being human. Distress is the anxiety we feel largely due to how we deal with and think about the stresses of life.

    Thank you for the timely wisdom of this article!

  12. Alissa,

    Great stuff!

    I agree, it’s all about mindsets. Especially in the tip #2, I had this controlling mindset in the past. Once I learned to let go of my limiting belief, I’m now ready to hire a helper for me :)


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