Reflections on Redefining Stress

Written by on October 31, 2016 in Emotional Mastery with 46 Comments
Taking the time to simply be alone for a few minutes every day, to nurture your mind, body and spirit provide you with the opportunity to regain perspective and allows you to feel you are the master of your own life, rather than being driven by external demands and stressors.

How’s your stress level lately?

Not great according to a poll conducted on behalf of the American psychological Association. It seems that 52 percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a significant source of stress.

Of course, there are many other things going on to be stressed about … the economy, global warming, Bretix, and don’t even get me started on the Season 7 opener for the Walking Dead!

Okay, I admit that last one was a blatant attempt to steer clear of anything too controversial, but at the same time it actually does a pretty good job of making the point of this article, and that is that to a large degree stress is caused not by a situation but by our perception of that situation.

Our perceptions rather than any objective reality govern our emotional response and resulting behavior. We often paint events much worse than they actually are and this greatly increases our stress. ~Dr. Valeri O’Hara PhD

Most people assume that it is external circumstances or people that are the root cause of their stress but if that were true then everybody who experiences an event would have the same reaction, but that isn’t the case.

Take for example a traffic jam. One person sitting in a traffic jam will fidget and grow progressively more agitated, while another two cars away quietly accepts the situation, and uses the time to listen to music or read.

Both drivers are in the same traffic jam, facing the same potential stressor, yet they have two vastly different responses, due in large part to their perception of the event.

Let’s consider a few other interpretations of stress.

Reflections on Redefining Stress

  • The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking. ~Wayne Dyer
  • I get angry. I get stressed. I worry. I get sad and disappointed too. What I am not, though, is consumed by any of them. I owe it to myself not to torment my soul with my own sorrows. I strive to move forward. ~Dodinsky
  • 98% of my problems would be solved if I stopped over thinking things and calmed the hell down. ~Author Unknown
  • Just because we’re in a stressful situation doesn’t mean that we have to get stressed out. You may be in the storm. The key is, don’t let the storm get in you. ~Joel Osteen
  • The only perfect no-stress environment is the grave. When we change our perception we gain control. The stress becomes a challenge, not a threat. When we commit to action, to actually doing something rather than feeling trapped by an event, the stress in our life becomes manageable. ~Greg Anderson
  • It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it. ~Lou Holtz
  • No one can create negativity or stress within you. Only you can do that by virtue of how you process your world. ~Wayne Dyer
  • Stress is never a given. There are people who get divorced amicably. There are people who pack up and move with no emotional toll. There is no stressor ‘out there’ in the world. We experience stress – or we don’t – depending on what we believe. ~Andrew Bernstein
  • A manifesto for a simple life – eat less, move more – buy less, make more – stress less, laugh more – feel blessed – love more – find a quiet spot every day and breathe. ~Author Unknown
  • Stress is the inability to tell the difference between what is happening and what you think is happening. ~Victor Davich
  • Many of us feel stress and get overwhelmed not because we’re taking on too much, but because we’re taking on too little of what really strengthens us. ~Marcus Buckingham
  • “Blorft” is an adjective I made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the inertia of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years. ~Tina Fey
  • Stress is not what happens to us. It is our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose. ~Maureen Killoran
  • The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. ~William James
  • Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s worth acknowledging that stress comes in all shapes and sizes. Some stress helps to motivate us, some stress comes from life altering change such as the loss of a loved one. There is no question that stress is (and always will be) a part of life.

But if you believe the research, 85% of the things we worry about never happen. Have you ever really stressed out over an event, yet when it finally happened it was nowhere near as bad as you thought it would be?

Stressful things will happen in life, but we have the ability to control how they affect us.

Related Reading:


Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

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  1. ikechi

    Hi Marquita

    Stress is indeed a mindset. I do agree that most of the things I tend to worry about never happen and I realise that I should have been calm in the first place.

    Love the quotes that you shared which portray the fact that how we respond to stress those matter. Take Care and have a wonderful week.
    ikechi recently posted…Making a Difference: BlogFest With StyleMy Profile

  2. Sonal Talwar

    Hi Marquita

    I really liked the quote by Wayne Dyer. It defines it all. We all are at times under the situation of stress. But how we handle it is very important.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful insight!
    Sonal Talwar recently posted…15 Surprising Health Benefits of Eating TomatoesMy Profile

  3. Michael

    Hi Marquita, How we respond to any situation in our lives is totally under our control. Managing stress is a learned skill. Unwinding activities certainly help. Your post reminded of a Greek philosopher Epictetus – “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.”
    Michael recently posted…Why You Should Be Thinking About Retirement as a MillennialMy Profile

  4. I agree with Dr. Wayne Dyer: There is no stress in the world. It’s all in the way we think, our perception of the world and the events that take place.

    I’ve learned from so many experiences that sometimes all you can control is your reaction to certain events not the events themselves. This infers that stress, as a reaction, is a choice.

    Your quotes were so important to this post! They show us the different perspectives of people that really get it.

    May I add one more that I didn’t see on the list?

    Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives. Tony Robbins

    Have a great week, Marquita! A really enjoyable post.

    Deborah A. Ten Brink recently posted…Get Your Priorities Straight To Increase Productivity.My Profile

    • Great quote – thanks for sharing Deborah! I’m a long-time fan of Tony Robbins, he never fails to inspire me. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughtful insights with us. 🙂

  5. Suzie Cheel

    Marty I think the first quote from Wayne Dyer says it all. I know how stressed I used to be and I must say that through time each day that is just for me, journaling, my cards and the emotion code I m so much less anxious- my mentor even commented on it the other day. 🙂 Love the traffic jam story I know that one I can even picture the old and the new me xx
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…How Will You Boldly Step Into November?My Profile

    • Yeah, that story brought back memories of long-ago when I lived in Los Angeles (shudder!). Glad you enjoyed the article Suzie, and I know I speak for your many readers when I say that I am grateful for the inspiration you share with us all. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  6. Stella Chiu

    Hi, Mariquita

    Agree with you: stress comes mainly from within, how our perception about the event, and our reactions to the event. The principle was clearly illustrated by the example of traffic jam.
    Love the quote from Greg Anderson. He emphasis in changing our perception and take action.
    I am still learning how to gain control from stress. Your article is very helpful in this aspect.
    Have a nice weekend!

    Stella Chiu

  7. Joy Healey

    Hi Marquita,

    Some great quotes there.

    I am a bit of a one for getting stressed out, but I try to make it a personal rule only to be “bothered by” things where I can have a reasonable chance of altering the result.
    So…. although I did vote, I won’t get het up about it. But if I’m late with a blog post, I WILL get het up – and do it 🙂

    Hope that makes sense 🙂

    Joy – Blogging After Dark
    Joy Healey recently posted…Free Online Shopping Store For YouMy Profile

  8. Mark

    I love your highly pro-active approach to appropriately reducing or eliminating some of negative affects of stress M!

    And I love the quote from the late great Dr.Wayne Dyer, but also the two awesome quotes from the unknown authors as well!

    M, you definitely have a true gift, for helping us (to both) understand and appreciate, we are indeed, the captains of our ship of emotions!

    And while no one can prevent a storm, we can remain in constant control of our responses to it.

    Great insights as always!
    Mark recently posted…So Why Don’t Successful Entrepreneurs Ever Work On This Particular Day?My Profile

  9. Sue Kearney

    “I owe it to myself not to torment my soul….”

    The most powerful ten words I’ve read in a while, and I’m all up in the powerful words these days. Because I have a slight tendency toward self-torment, yo.

    Thanks for the loving support you offer in the form of useful words and ideas.

    I’m grateful for you!
    Sue Kearney recently posted…Social media resources that can make your life easierMy Profile

    • And I for you, my friend! I smile every time I see your name because I immediately picture the awesome banner on your “new” blog – it’s my absolute favorite! Thanks for contributing to the conversation Sue. 🙂

  10. Your blog made me stop and take a second to think about my stress level and realize I am the master of my stress. Thanks for reminding me to take time for myself and that time may be during a stressful traffic jam. LOL!
    Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

  11. Teresa Salhi

    As I turns out – this has been a topic near and dear to me too. I put this info on on my webpage for the Goddess Retreat Virtual Sactuary coming up – it is one of the reasons we are hosting a 9 day wellness for women with many experts…but here is what I found to share the stats….
    “The Price of False Promises of Success Are Much Higher for Women. We have a 40% Greater Chance of Heart Disease + a 60% Greater Risk of Diabetes. In Recent Years, Women’s Stress Increased 18%.” “Our society promotes burnout, sleep deprivation and stress. Anxiety creates fear. Overwhelm creates frustration. Frustration creates stress. Stress creates illness, lonliness and depression. Fatigue prevents you from listening to your internal guidance system which knows what is in your best interest. …” excerpts from Arianna Huffington,Thrive.

    I do believe we all need to find our owns ways to deal with stress AND it is a choice for sure! Thanks for highlighting this Marquita
    Teresa Salhi recently posted…Six Ways to Align With Courage in Difficult TimesMy Profile

  12. Vatsala Shukla

    I normally use my time in the traffic to listen to my favorite music – normally Madonna or Nickelback, Marquita. 🙂

    One brilliant technique that I picked up from Davidji that works every time is the 90 second meditation and breath work. Somehow, it diffuses the anxiety and puts things in perspective.

    PS. Loved the quote collection.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Success and the Law of Giving RevisitedMy Profile

    • Glad you enjoyed the collection Vatsala, and the 90-second meditation sounds terrific. I’m all for anything that helps to re-center us, and in a pinch even just closing your eyes and breathing deeply a few times works wonders. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  13. Hi Marguita. I’m a friend of Nathalie. Just wanted to say that I loved your post, especially this, “The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs.” My stress level just went down a notch after reading! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Leila Grandemange

    • Welcome Leila, it’s wonderful to meet you here – and over in the Women of Facebook community! I’m so happy that you found value in the post and look forward to getting to know you. 🙂

  14. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! You always have such great saying to share! My favorite one was from the unknown Author.. 98% of my problems would be solved if I stopped over thinking things and calmed the hell down.

    Awesome Share
    Thank You
    Chery :))

    • Yeah, I also like that one, Chery. I actually have several really great quotes in my collection on this subject that I can’t use because I’ve made the decision not to use x-rated words here (unlike in real life). 🙂

  15. Hello Marquita
    Great post ! I have read your blog quite a few times but never commented. But it’s very insightful and really informative. It’s true that stress is nothing but the our thinking of the worst possible outcome of a situation. I am a huge believer in positive thinking I believe thats what helps me control stressors and jogging on my treadmill. Again thanks for sharing this value-packed post and it’s great to meet you.

    • Welcome Darrell, it’s great to meet you too! I’m so glad you took the time to share your thoughts, I love hearing from readers and I hope you’ll continue to contribut to the conversation. 🙂

  16. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    I sure do believe that stress comes from within and is not circumstantial. Just like your example of the traffic jam. It is what is inside of us that stresses us or not.

    Most of the time, stress is caused by worry, reacting, etc. But there are real stressors like losing a loved one, moving…all those things on that stress list lol. It causes us to stress. But the thing is we have control over it. We can stress less if we choose to.

    I like to use “worry dolls” and write my stressors on paper. It works for me because it relieves my mind.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…How To Write A Roundup Post To Drive Traffic and Build Blog EngagementMy Profile

    • Those are wonderful strategies Donna! And you are so right that there are also very real stressors in our lives. The thing is, that point actually opens a whole new can of worms for a couple of reasons. First, the more one is willing to take responsibility for their life the less stress they will experience when they go through a change such as a move. Just like the example of the traffic jam, people move all the time – for some it’s a stressful situation, for others it’s not. What makes the difference is how prepared you are. As for the loss of a loved one, no question that is stressful, particularly if it’s sudden and unexpected, but it’s important to recognize the difference between grief and stress. Again, the better able we are to handle change, the faster we can move through the stress stage and allow ourselves the time we need to properly grieve. Minimizing stress when managing transitions almost always comes down to self-awareness. Thanks so much for sharing, I always value your thoughtful insights!

  17. It is true that stress is nothing but a flaw of our perception.Yet when stress builds in , it is difficult to stop thinking about the worst case scenarios…Mind has difficulty accepting to think positive at that point.Being in the habit of doing something positive each day helps me stop thinking about things that stress me..contributing to this blog,sitting down to meditate,going for a walk, reading God’s stories and playing with my kids are all the things that help me stop thinking about things that stress me…it is almost like shutting the door to stress and telling it that its not your time to bother me right now since I am busy.
    Priya Prabhu recently posted…Key findings in differences in languages and scriptsMy Profile

    • I love your statement Priya – “It is almost like shutting the door to stress and telling it that it’s not your time to bother me now since I am busy.” Perfect! I always appreciate your thoughtful insights. 🙂

  18. Sabrina Quairoli

    Stress is a part of life. I do think it has to do with our thoughts about a situation. I realize over the years that to relieve stress and get my mind off of the thought, I would do deep breathing and/or yoga. I haven’t done yoga in a while but am planning on doing it again soon.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Ham Beans and Escarole Soup RecipeMy Profile

    • Yoga is wonderful Sabrina. I used to practice yoga regularly but with all the hubbub over my major move this year, I stopped going to class. I just picked up a DVD on yoga to get back into it, especially as the temperature here continues to inch down. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, always appreciated!

  19. Tuhin

    Lovely post!
    I believe we are solely responsible for our stressful lives. I know a few persons who can manage to smile and relax even in turbulent situations. It depends on how we control our mind.
    The election results, economy and all other problems will not be solved by our overthinking.
    Tuhin recently posted…Are you an irritating person?My Profile

  20. Dave

    I love a good quote as much as anyone. Some refer to me as a quote-aholic, and I graciously accept that label 🙂

    But, there is one in this list that resonates with me the most – the last one. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. In a very ironic way, the simplicity of this quote is what makes it so powerful. There isn’t a lot of explanation or deep thought required. It’s a simple statement, devoid of any potential misconception.

    It is naturally stress free and easy to consume and live when you stop to briefly think about it. The bottom line is that you are in control of your response to any situation. I am certainly not perfect at doing just that, but little reminders like this are just what we need to get us back on track, simplify our lives, and live peacefully and fully. Thanks, Marty. I always appreciate your motivating thoughts 🙂
    Dave recently posted…Captain KindnessMy Profile

  21. Jeri

    Due to growing up in an emotionally unstable environment with my mother, I’ve now realized how hard I worked to achieve a stress-free life for the sake of feeling more stability. I’ve now realized that is no way to live, and am doing more all the time to drum up some stress in my life, but in a positive way. We really do need to challenge ourselves. We grow when stress is a good thing and not too overwhelming, but even then as you point out, we can control our reactions quite a bit.
    Jeri recently posted…#AuthorInterview: Tantra BensksoMy Profile

  22. Lem Enrile

    I’ve been stressed lately about work. I often get headaches and nape pain after my shift. Then my husband bought me a coloring book and said that I should color. And it worked. Coloring helped me relieve my stress plus it’s really fun.
    Lem Enrile recently posted…Ano ang Sintomas ng TB?My Profile

    • That sounds great Lem! Adult coloring books have been selling like crazy on Amazon and while I haven’t tried it myself, I can easily see how it would help and be a lot of fun in the process. Thanks so much for sharing with us. 🙂

  23. Lea Bullen

    Hi Marquita,
    I could completely see how the election would stress out a lot of people. I think I’ve managed my stress by not thinking about it.
    Lol, The Walking Dead. I just stopped paying attention when my husband watches it.
    I agree with most of the quotes. To me it’s more about what you think about and how you handle what actually happens. Especially if you still stress about it after it’s all done and over with.
    Lea Bullen recently posted…Trying to Take Control of Your Life? You’ll Have to Do This FirstMy Profile

    • While I try to stay up on the news, I have to admit that as far as the election on more than a few occasions an article or something someone has said I’ve found myself feeling frustrated. When it gets to that point I unplug for a day and that usually helps, but it’s always good to have reminder to keep things in perspective. Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us! 🙂

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