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When You're Suddenly Stressed,
Disengage and Decide
by Mary Foley

Imagine this picture.

You're driving during rush hour on your way to meet some friends for dinner. Suddenly there's a back up and you're in stop and go traffic. A space opens up in right lane and you begin to make a move, but someone in the next lane cuts you off. You react, stepping on the brake or swerving to avoid getting hit.

Your heart is pounding, your adrenaline is flowing, and you feel a mix of fright and anger. UGH! More stress! You just want to get to dinner to be with your friends.

Sound too familiar?

Whether it's traffic congestion or a customer problem or your kid's latest dilemma, ongoing stress seems to be part of the modern day experience that none of us can escape.

But, we can't lead bodacious lives and have bodacious careers or run a bodacious business if we're so stressed we can't think straight! A swirling, exhausted heart and mind won't enable us to accomplish our goals, let alone enable us to enjoy life.

So, what are ways we can manage stress so that it doesn't get the best of us? Deb De Porter, a licensed stress consultant who is conducting a 5-part "Stop Stress Now!" teleseminar I'm hosting for the Bodacious Women's Club, recommends we do two key things in the moment we're suddenly stressed.

I think her suggestions are practical and powerful. By doing these two things at the onset of a stressful situation, we save ourselves frustration, energy, and time. I strongly suggest you give these a try!

1. DISENGAGE:

Stop the brain chatter, let go of your emotional reaction, and take a deep breath in and out of your heart until you feel the shift in your body. Calm down your system. Yes, you can do this while driving or at any time you suddenly feel stressed.

2. DECIDE:

In that moment of emotional reactivity, you have a choice. You can choose to carry the negative emotional baggage and feel depleted or you can choose to take responsibility for your emotions by shifting and changing your feelings.

Deliberately decide to focus on a positive feeling such as gratitude that you are safe (or secure or protected or uninjured). Sustain the positive emotion for as long as you can.

From my experience, disengaging and deciding in the moment to manage my stress continue is something that takes practice. You have to keep at it to create this new habit and interrupt your automatic response.

But, it's so worth it because I'm managing my stress rather than my stress managing me!




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