My Angina Monologue
On Wednesday, Matt shared one sure way to get people who hate exercise and fruit to, well, enjoy BOTH!
Today Lynette is talking to us about the story behind her mission to teach others about stress solutions. She’s sharing a profound tip that you can implement to reduce stress today …
“Think it can’t happen to you? I am someone who never should have had a heart attack – and yet I did. Cardiac disease is the number one killer of women in the United States today, and the risk is rising for women ages 35 to 54. As I speak with women who have had a heart attack, most of them express initial disbelief, and I know that women who have not had a heart attack too often doubt that it can happen to them.
I didn’t dream it could happen; now I educate women so that they don’t have the same experience. Here’s my story:
As a young ballet dancer, I exercised vigorously, ate carefully, controlled my weight, and avoided smoking. My internist once remarked, “You’re going to live to 120.”
Psychology of stress
When I quit dancing, I went to college, and graduated into a job teaching psychology at City College of San Francisco, for which I created a course called “The Psychology of Stress.” I had to write the textbook, because none existed almost 40 years ago.
Upon retirement, I counted on having a fun-filled life with a lot of freedom. Instead, I ended up in a whirlwind of stressful activities: moving across country, then moving twice more; caring for the affairs of a 93-year old aunt who lived half-way across the United States; then taking on the caretaking of a dear friend who was disabled by a head injury and a stroke. The friend, who revealed herself as a hoarder, turned my lovely new home into a garbage pit.
The Stress Whirlpool
This all seems incredibly stressful on the surface, and so I fell into what I call The Stress Whirlpool, where not sleeping well leads to a tendency to crave carbs, fats, and salt, and where exercise feels harsh rather than joyful. It was only for a short period of time (2 or 3 years), but it was sufficient.
Pulling myself together after the heart attack, I recognized the following:
- Stress is a choice!
Approximately 10% of our stress is due to what happens to us; 90% is due to what we think about what happens to us. Making up dramatic stories about what might happen in the future accounts for a great deal of that 90%; if we kept track, we would recognize that our dire predictions very often do not come true. But we don’t; we just go on to worrying about the next possible dire outcome.
- “Stress Makes Us Stupid!” is one of my rallying cries. Under stress, we make stupid mistakes, which cost us more time and stress. We often fail to take the time to think things through or learn a new process that mightmake things easier, because we feel so rushed right now.
Stress Buster Formula
So now I use, and teach people, the “Stress Buster Formula”: when in a stressful situation, pause, breathe deeply, and choose your response. Ask yourself, “Is this response reasonable?” and “Will it make a difference in the long run?” That little delay can help you come to your senses and make far better choices.
Islands of peace
When can you practice stress busting? Find and use your “Islands of Peace”: little breathing spots during the day when you can pause, take a breath, and clear your head. Do you believe you don’t have any such breathing spots? Think of the last time you were stuck in traffic, waited in a doctor’s reception room or an airport, took a long elevator ride with many stops. You were probably thinking, impatiently, “Oh, I have so much to do when I get to….” You could have breathed deeply and said to yourself, “I don’t have to do anything for the moment – what a relief.”
Managing stress well isn’t just about saving your life; it’s about making it a life worth saving.”
Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach, who believes strongly that managing stress well isn’t just about saving your life; it’s about making it a life worth saving. She specializes in helping overly-busy women find “islands of peace” in their daily lives from which to make better decisions.
Lynette is the author of “The Psychology of Stress” and “30 Steps to Serenity”, an audio self-coaching program. She can be reached at www.CreativeLifeChanges.com