Understanding Stress: 8 Ways to Take It On

Charms hanging from ceiling in Bali, Indonesia

I had a headache that lasted 3 days. A headache that made it hurt to think, something I like to do all day long, everyday and nonstop. And a headache that brought me face to face with the demon that is better known as stress!

During those hours, a lot happened to me but nothing happened to the headache.

I gave in to the frustration and moodiness that my headache brought about and behaved way out of character.

I cried.

I sat around wasting precious hours idly because I couldn’t focus. I blamed the hurricane, the clouds, and even the figs in the most delicious raw dessert my husband has ever baked as possible allergy but kept eating them anyway. I yelled at my sweet innocent husband.

I went shopping and bought beautiful clothes that I did not need with time and money that I did not have – ok, I had both but chose to spend them poorly. I paced the house complaining and speculating.

I tried home remedies. I pretended it’s all in my head (clever, no?). I meditated and did a 2-hour yoga practice and stayed away from my Mac.

I went walking. I did deep breathing. I drank countless cups of Oolong tea and plenty of water. I watched a funny movie. I slept 8 hours straight and woke up without an alarm.

All to no avail.

Now, I know why. My headache was a pure sign of stress, that ugly awful beast that I have yet to defeat in this life.

Do you know stress? Have you had encounters with it before? And more importantly, have you recognized it behind its veil?

You cannot trick stress into leaving. You cannot tell it stories and expect it to believe you. You have to acknowledge its real existence.

You should give it some credit for the massive power it holds over us intelligent beings, and then you have to go after it like Uma Thurman goes after Bill in Quentin Tarantino’s genius movies, Kill Bill.

Go after stress with all you have. Do it with precision. With intention. With power and persistence. With a tenacity that won’t back down until it prevails.

Stress, I realize now, does not exclusively impair those working stressful jobs or facing obviously stressful circumstances in life. Stress is not conducive of environment; stress is conducive of a person’s reaction to life.

Stress is self-induced.

The seemingly luckiest and richest person in the world could be more stressed than the most unfortunate soul facing problem after problem because it is all about how you as a person perceive the world and the circumstances around you and how you choose to react to them.

The path to worry is irresistibly inviting. The road to anxiety calls our name. There are far too many reasons to give in to worry, plus we feel strangely productive when we worry, as though worry equates solving a problem.

Stress wins every time. Stress doesn’t even have to try that hard. We have made it so easy for stress to “get to us”, so easy to let stress take over our mind and our thoughts and with it, we give our actions over to it and blame stress. We have accepted stress as the norm and as an excuse to live less than a full life.

We have allowed stress to impact what could be remarkable that instead turns out mediocre. We have let stress come into the most private and intimate moments of our lives and leave its ugly footprint.

We have let stress mess up our art and our genius. We have handed over the key to our true well-being. We might have very well said, “Please, take the key and do what you will to me. I will not fight. I am weak and stupid and will let you walk all over me!”

We have made friends with an enemy that laughs in our face every day because it would be so easy to kick it out for good if only we woke up and used our powers smartly for once.

How do you say no to stress and yes to the liberating thought of accepting what you can change and what you cannot change.

Sometimes, stress can enhance the situation.

James Bond is a hero because the tougher the world got, the cooler he got. Symphony conductors don’t endure the pressure of a performance, they thrive
on it. ~Seth Godin

In this reality, how do you handle stress? Is this not a better way to face it?

8 Easy and Quick Ways to Deal with Stress Now

Mine is ever a work in progress but I see tiny bits of movement in the right direction and I am highly encouraged. Here’s a process I learned from those beautiful movements for you:

  1. Recognize stress under its many veils. It does not come with introductions.
  2. Accept that it is real and can be powerful beyond measure if you allow it. Do not fool around with the power of stress.
  3. Decide consciously not to allow it to take over your good attitude. Make this decision loudly and clearly.
  4. Choose a mantra, a phrase that you will repeat over and over to reaffirm a belief in your mind. One of my favorite mantras is: “I am strong and willing.” and one of my husband’s favorites for me is “Acknowledge and release.”
  5. Take deep breaths, even if this is not a situation where you are not in physical distress. I devoted an entire video to advanced breathing techniques in The 10 Minute Daily Invigorator. Now, that was fun to create!
  6. Consider it a challenge, a test, a way to find out your patience and persistence, your depth of knowledge in yourself, and your abilities in interacting with your world.
  7. Believe in your ability to find a solution. My Dad used to say that every problem has a solution. I used to believe it as fact. I tend to forget it often. Here’s to remembering it again.
  8. Remember what you did that worked well in this stressful situation. It will likely work again. Remember the details; trust me, it is not ridiculous to think about the process and repeat it again.

And when I do follow these steps, the process works. Stress retreats. Serenity returns. Life begins to unfold its magic again.

Meditation in Bali, Indonesia

What about you? What powerful tools do you pack as a strong and fit warrior to defeat stress in your life? Tell me everything!!!

Get Confident in 21 Easy Steps

Disclaimer: There are links here to products and services that I love, use and trust.

  • Vishnu

    Farnoosh – I found this great 10 minute stress releasing exercise – you can do a video each day of the week – sure to destress anyone – I’m going to email it to you:)

    Seriously (well I am serious) but more seriously, found exercise to be a great stress reliever!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi dear Vishnu, you are too funny but I am so glad to hear you are enjoying the 10 Minute Daily Invigorator!!! Just thrilled and happy to hear it, thanks!

  • http://www.poweredbyintuition.com Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition

    Stress is so sneaky, isn’t it? You think you’re keeping up with everything and after all you’re meditating and taking breaks as needed when you get hit in the “head” with a headache. I think our bodies know more than we do intellectually sometime. The headache says, “Warning – time to step away from the computer and all this heavy concentration.” Time to bring some balance back into your life with relaxation and play.
    You have so many great tips here. Thank you for this timely article and for sharing a link to PbI too.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Dear Angela, ever so sneaky! You are so so right! And it is also deeper. It is how we approach our work and measure our self-worth. Time to do all of that. I hope to get some of that done on my trip. I am so glad that you are enjoying this post and feel free to share it with your fabulous community at Powered by Intuition!

  • http://www.bohemia-latina.blogspot.com melanie

    Thank you so much!! It came in the perfect time… I was feeling kind of down today and your words are sinking in my head: stress = self induced.
    Yes, we love to play the victim. So now its time to move!
    Thank you Farnoosh!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Melanie, I am so happy to hear it. If it made you feel better and if it made you move (movement is amazingly healing too!), then I am very happy. You are very welcome.

  • Tom Sorhannus

    Hi Farnoosh, hope your headache is gone :-)

    I think I can handle stress pretty well nowadays which has also had a positive impact on my health. But its harder to say how I have reached this state. There is no one thing can point at but its rather a development that has gone on for a longer period.

    As you write you have to become aware of the stress. I think that is the point to start at and then be aware of the situations which make you stressed, and avoid them or learn to handle them.

    And be patient :-)

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Tom, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I bet the current adventure is testing your handling of stress in more than one way so I know you are coming from experience and growth! Becoming aware of stress, or rather, identifying it stress when it’s not clear what it could be, that’s a key skill for sure. Thanks for stopping by! Hope you are doing great.

      • Tom Sorhannus

        You remember Experience and Grow! Lovely :-)

        Yes there are many stress tests during this adventure. One is the people handling the road signs. Sometimes one wonders if the play fool with people on purpose :-)

        But anyhow, so far I have reached my destinations everyday so its not that bad :-)

        Good luck to you Farnoosh!

        • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

          My memory still works and hello from London, Tom. Spending a few days here. I bet we are closer geographically speaking!!

          • Tom Sorhannus

            Pretty close then yes :-) Enjoy your time in London!

  • Rebekah

    I love the pairing of mantras, “I am strong and willing,” “Acknowledge and release,” both components of sensing truly and reacting well. Between the reactive and aggressive streaks in our animal nature, the arbitrariness of modern life, the challenge of life in general, and whatever old patterns we’re stamped with, stress is inevitable for most of us.

    This has been a stressful week for me, too. It’s especially good to hear the voices and encouragement of allies.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Dearest Rebekah, so lovely to see you here. The mantras are one of the best things I learned in yoga, although I make up whatever I want. It works beautifully. Stress is a besat and it IS inevitable but can we change it? Can we truly alter the way we handle it? I wonder too. It is like a shadow sometimes. There is no getting away from it but maybe there are ways that we stop seeing it by looking in another direction!
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  • Cheri

    For me stress is always a part of my life. I’m a military vet married to an active duty Marine, and we have four children. For me I have a mantra that I took from my military training. When those moments come I like to take a deep breath and say a few times “adapt and overcome.” And then I like to run a few miles.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Cheri, thanks so much for commenting. That sounds like a hugely stressful and busy lifestyle. I haven’t a clue how you manage but bravo. And the deep breath and your mantra must work their magic. Of course, cardio always works. I should’ve added that to the list. I like cycling but both work wonderfs. Here’s to *less* stress in our lives!

  • Tara L

    Great article! I need all of the help I can get in dealing with stress. Now, if I can just follow these checkpoints…

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Tara, thank you so much. Let me know how they work out for you please and all my best.

  • http://www.unlockthedoor.net Stuart

    Farnoosh, I hope your stress is now resolved and you can continue to be your kick-ass, motivating self again!

    Whenever I suffer from stress, I first analyse what it’s my life right now. I write down, or think out loud, all the things that are ‘on my mind’ at the time. As I go through each one, I recognise my attached feelings to them – sometimes they’re of excitement, such as a new project, other times they’re of dread. Those which conjure up bad feelings, are likely those that are bringing about the stress.

    Then, once I’ve recognised what is causing stress, I take action to cut out what I can, to minimise the stress levels. If I have to leave something in, I make sure then that the next chance I get, I do it as quickly as possible to get it ‘off my mind’. Once it’s done, the stress is lifted.

    Take care Farnoosh :-)

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Stuart, you know, it comes and goes. The immediate one is much better, thank you. And thank you for sharing how you handle stress in your own life. It helps tremendously to know the perspective of others. Your approach sounds so clean and logical. I wonder if it would apply to my chaotic thinking ;)! No, seriously, thanks so much for sharing and I love it. Very smart. Talk soon, Stuart.

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  • http://www.planetnaveen.com Naveen Kulkarni

    Love your writing.

    If you ask me, I beat stress with my (not so secret) weapon, called “Finding Root Cause”.

    Because we are conditioned in the fast paced world to treat the ‘Symptom’, not the ‘disease’. Treating the symptom will make the disease bounce back later. It’s important to treat the root cause and free up ourselves from stress permanently.

    So, I try to find root cause of my stress (how small it is, doesn’t matter) and try to treat the root cause. It could be time taking sometimes, but it’s worth :-)

    Thanks for this awesome post. Keep inspiring.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hello Naveen, welcome here and so glad you enjoy the writing. Finding root cause is both smart and makes me smile because it reminds me of my engineering and trouble-shooting days!! Yes, you are right and that is truly the way to treat the problem. I think in this post, I was going more for a prevention method as well as dealing with existing stress. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  • http://www.planetnaveen.com Naveen Kulkarni

    Me again,
    Sorry for posting this link. But just wanted to share a post I wrote sometimes back on my blog. It’s titled as “How To Eradicate Stress From Your Life”.

    Here goes the link,
    Eradicate Stress

    Hope your readers enjoy this as well :-)

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Excellent. I will take a look. Thanks Naveen!

  • http://auroraridinggear.com Wendy Darling

    Well, I hadn’t seen a sign of you and sensitive self thought, “Was it something I said???”
    I think a few posts back you were talking about your abounding energies. I saw a toy top. I saw my one year old grandson learned to walk, run, dance, climb, leap and spin…in about a week…then he hits a wall or the ground. After awhile playing and exploring his expanded world, ON HIS OWN, he finds his blankie and soother, crawls up a flight of 14 stairs; turns on his sound generator usually to water, then points to his crib…”asks” to go to bed!!! Like his own game of “Go-Go-GO…STOP.”
    Dear sweet Farnoosh, I heard the go-go in your energy and I prayed your crash would not be too hard or too painful. Because mine have been hard and painful. At 30 I had a NDE and spent nearly one year at a leading hospital. That was not the end of it. This was only the beginning to more diagnostic discoveries that told me, it was a miracle I’d made it as far given all the circumstances and I required the lessons to slow down and take better care of myself. Not an easy task in a “G0-Go, you’re worth more when you do, driven family and society.” That’s when I started to defend but realized this was exhausting. I have to take care. Accept the adaptations and push hands.
    I follow a medicine wheel and Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy. I listen to the particular body parts that tell me, slow down. Heating up can be life threatening for me and my condition, so now I have been forced to slow down into a tao/yin-yang balance. I walk, drink lots of water, eat healthy and best I can fill my mind with positive. Like your beautiful blog. That is not to say you are at this beck and call. You need to be at your own first! I think it’s on your list of self-care~Correct:)
    So glad you are feeling better.
    Be well. Wendy

    • http://auroraridinggear.com Wendy Darling

      ps. do you know why I never rec’d this by email?

      • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

        Hi dear Wendy, I was in London and the mini vacation did me a lot of good. Thanks for being so dearly concerned but I am fine. If I had a crash, it was a mini one and it is now completely behind me. – I do tend to love going full speed ahead, but it has its repercussions and speaking of which, I am terribly sorry to hear of yours. It seems you have found your way back to healing and happiness again, though. Beautiful words here for me to reference later. Thank you so much.
        PS: I generally don’t send every post to my email list. I just send new content and announcements. Thanks for being such an avid reader here!

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  • http://www.thebridgemaker.com Alex Blackwell | The BridgeMaker

    Surrendering works for me Farnoosh.

    Not surrendering from a defeating point-of-view, but surrendering from a “I turn this over to the Universe and trust I will find the path out” point-of-view.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful stress-busting list – there’s a lot of wisdom in each one.


    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Surrender! Reminds me of both gambling (you can surrender while playing blackjack if you have a really bad hand, but few know about this option so I find it eerily relevant to our conversation ;)) and also yoga! Surrendering to what is and what we do not control!
      Thank you for adding a beautiful word to managing stress for me, dear Alex.

  • http://www.guruhabit.com Kirpal

    Try MBSR…

    Its important to know that our fundamental nature is stress free, and stress is temporary and artificial.

    To be stress-free, we need to tap into this fundamental nature, techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, qi gong, are a great help to build resilience toward stress.


    Author of guruhabit.com

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Kirpal,
      Not familiar with MBSR.
      Thanks so much for your thoughts here. Meditation, yoga are my life’s loves but I don’t do them as often as I need. I don’t know Qi Gong but have heard a lot about it. Will need to check it out now. Thanks!

  • http://peterpaluska.com Peter Paluska


    I appreciate your utter openness and honesty in this very well written piece. It is true, there is no stress in this world until WE manufacture it and choose to allow it in to our minds. The key word is “mind”, and the strategy of using a mantra is indeed most effective!
    Replace that negative thought with a positive one (Ac-cen-tu-ate the positive! -Cole Porter).
    Anytime I encounter a situation in which there could be stress, I can always go back to the interview we did and implement the concepts you talk about. Hooray!

    Thanks, as always, and experience peace now.


    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Peter, yes, this one took some guts but it is how I was feeling and so it was only fair to share it in case others also feel that way. Do you mean the interview you and I did? That was a lot of fun and I was ever so positive. I usually am. I think the worst of it is behind me. I am reading Life of Pi and in comparison, I have it pretty good. Extremely inspiring story. Thank you so much for being here, Peter. This helps tremendously.

  • http://www.barexammind.com/ Matt

    I believe that visualization is a great way to get rid of stress. For me, stress is usually a result of worry about something in the future, often worries about how I will deal with a upcoming event. If I can visualize successfully dealing with the causeof my worry [and “success” can be defined however one wishes], then the stress eventually subsides. It may take a few visualization sessions, but it works wonders for me.

    Thanks for the post.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      My friend Aileen is big into visualization and I need to think more in those terms. I do visualize, but sometimes, I visualize the worst-case scenarios ;)! Alright, that is my next exercise, Matt, thank you so so much for your comment and the sunflower in your profile photo!

  • jenny lim

    Thanks Farn! i found the exercise very relaxing. i’m subscribing to your blog =)

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Thank you for telling me, Jenny. So happy and welcome to the blog!

  • http://www.alidavies.com Ali Davies

    I think that one of the problems with stress is that we often wait for it to be running riot before we start to tackle it. So more often than not we are in cure mode rather than prevention mode.

    I am a big fan of prevention strategies (I know not possible for every stress situation) but there are many stress factors that could be headed off at the pass if we switched our mindset to stress prevention rather than stress management.

    For me the distinction is dealing with source versus symptoms. By having a stress prevention strategy we are dealing with the source and being proactive in managing it’s ability to rear its ugly head.

    I wonder how many people have stress prevention strategies that they implement as well as stress management strategies.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Ali, exactly! You couldn’t have said it better! It comes on as a bit of doubt and worry and anxiety and then it just piles up. It is so hard to be in prevention mode when we are made to be so reactionary! Sigh!
      Source vs. symptoms: so true. I tend to do this with other areas of my health but stress outsmarts me every time. Stress prevention vs. management. Maybe that could be a promising next blog post – after some testing of course – will you be writing it or me? :)
      Thanks so much for your comment here.

      • http://www.alidavies.com Ali Davies

        I think that would make a really thought provoking post Farnoosh. I’m happy to write it if you like or happy to offer some input if it is a post you want write with some alternative ideas/thoughts.

  • http://mdrobertson.com Mark

    I was just lying in bed with a headache, and thought…just stay with this. No Excedrin (tension headache) meds this time; just stay.

    It was my own mind bridling my feckless drive. Some ambition is wonderful; some we lay upon ourselves.

    It became a meditation of a kind. One mantra, “seek peace and pursue it,” is originally written in Greek. “Pursue” is the same kind of Uma Thurman/James Bond.

    Weird paradox there: chase after peace like cage-fighting pitbull.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Just stay with this. Mark, I read a book recently that talked about that. Just to stay with the pain, the anxiety, the fear especially. So how did it go?
      And yes, it is a weird paradox and there may be other ways to attain peace. Hopefully, I learn to tackle more peaceful ways! Hope the headache is gone and you are back in full charge of everything! Thanks for your comment.

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  • http://www.AcademicSuccessForAll.com Elana

    Hi Farnoosh,

    It has taken me awhile to read this post because I’ve been working on a presentation that I am planning to do at colleges in my area to teach students about overcoming stress by using a form of meridian tapping known as EFT, which stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques.

    My presentation will be called “The Neuroscience of Academic Success.” You may find it interesting to know that when you are feeling stressed, the areas of your brain that are associated with learning, creativity and personal growth are essentially frozen. In order for you to learn, create, and grow, you need to be able to interrupt the stress response in your brain.

    My presentation will teach students how to identify when they are having a stress response (not everyone knows how to identify a stress-response as it can be not only insidious but also something one has become rather accustomed to feeling). Then I will teach them to use EFT to disrupt the stress response.

    EFT has been scientifically proven to reduce the level of stress-hormone in the blood stream! My website contains information on how to use EFT for academic success, but you can easily generalize what I teach there to any situation that produces stress.

    I hope you will consider looking into EFT. It has truly transformed my life, and like so many EFT practitioners, I am on a mission to share this simple yet powerful technique with the world.

    Thank you so much Farnoosh for this post, for the opportunity it has given me to share my message, and for all your good, inspiring work.


    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Dear Elana, I read this with wide-open eyes (and mouth). So stress can interrupt my creativity juices?? Unbelievable but so true when I look back at all the times that I was stressed and couldn’t get anything done. THANK YOU so much for sharing this invaluable information here with us. I am not at all familiar with EFT but love to look into it. Can you recommend some free resources or do you have one that talks about EFT and ways to use it to overcome stress?
      Many thanks for sharing your message here and for helping me overcome stress!

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  • http://blogsnewsreviews.com AstroGremlin

    Whoa, I thought those bamboo wind chimes were a skeleton hand! I must be stressed. But seriously, everyone should learn how to meditate and attend to stress. Stress quite real and is an appropriate biological response in our natural state (to prepare us for danger) but deadly for moderns. Just closing your eyes and attending to your breathing is a start, but it’s worth really learning how to meditate.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Too funny – thank you for the laughs. And yes, we cannot over-emphasize the importance of meditation. Thank you for leaving a comment here

  • Yena

    Take it on, as if they were created to spice up your life. Your coping mechanism will be greatly handled if you take time to reflect and think of things which can help you out on your problem or on the things that greatly bothers you. Nevertheless failure to handle stress would cause you a risk specially on your health.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Yena, brilliantly said and thanks so so much for stopping by. Health issues are the worst outcome of stress….!

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  • http:/livealifeofgratitude.blogspot.com G Angela

    Very interesting topic, while I am involved in taking sessions for youngsters in stress management, its been very exciting as I went on exploring the different things we can do to reduce stress – and you have already shared 8 tips on beating stress, I would reduce that into 3 A’s to remember it easily. Awareness, Attitude and Action.

    The first thing about identifying stress is Becoming Aware and as some of my friends had shared exploring the causes/going to the root cause etc.

    Secondly choosing the Attitude – keeping things in perspective, taking responsibility and deciding to survive.

    The Third is Action – doing what needs to be done, planning to begin from where we are to what we want to achieve. I am inspired by what Mahatma Gandhi said: “There is more to life than increasing its speed”
    Thanks for sharing !

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Angela, thanks for sharing your lovely insights. I really appreciate it. Especially the quote from Gandhi. Thanks for stopping by and wishing all of us a stress-free life :)!

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