FOCUS: Stress Busters

Disciplines: Personal Mastery, Mental Models

Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.
—Richard Carlson

Last month I wrote about the stress I am experiencing following my husband Hal’s fall, which broke his right kneecap. I was delighted and touched by the many responses I received from readers both wishing us speedy recovery and sharing their own favorite stress busting strategies.

Since everyone I know experiences stress, I decided to pass along some of this collective wisdom. The suggestions fall loosely into two categories: ways to be more peaceful and ways to ask for and get help.

Here is a sampling.

To Become More Peaceful

  • Think of one beautiful thing in your life. (Pat)

  • Take a half hour of total peace and quiet – no radio, TV, telephone or computer. Sit in a room, put your feet up and try to relax every part of your body. Start at the top of your head and work your way down to your toes. Just say to yourself, “OK, relax your eyes, relax your lips, etc.” You may fall into a deep sleep, and that’s good too! (Jan)

  • Do a Mind Dump (Inspired by David Allen, author of Getting Things done.) To calm the brain, get all the spinning thoughts out by taking a large sheet of paper and writing down 50-100 things that are running around in there. Don’t judge them. Just write for 30-45 minutes. Next put the page somewhere where you can see it. Your brain will be calmed by not having to carry all that “stuff.” Periodically review the list, change some into action items and then cross them off physically as they’re done. The brain is calmed by accomplishment. (Allen)

  • Allow yourself to take a mid-day break when you're working at home. Make a cup of tea, light a candle, and give yourself guilt-free reading time---at least 30 minutes. In chilly weather snuggle under a fuzzy throw. Read uplifting things that inspire you and that you get lost in. When escape time is over, stand up and do the Cross Crawl for two minutes to re-engage your brain. This total escape will reset your stress meter and actually make you more productive---you will easily recover the time you devoted to it. (Maureen)

  • In the evening, watch a bit of comedy either on TV or DVD. TV is pretty limited but your library may have a selection. I watched Golden Girls late at night to chuckle before I went to sleep during the most stressful time of my life---taking care of my Dad after his stroke in the early 90's. (Maureen)

  • When you are feeling burdened, visualize some deity that is meaningful to you. Unload your burdens from your back and lay them before your god to manage them. I was having a bad time a few weeks ago and tried this. Imagine my surprise when I had unloaded about 13 different items off my back. I could name each of them. When I saw them all in a row before me and handed to someone else to manage, I felt a lot lighter. (Inspired by The Daily Om) (Ralph)

  • Buy and listen to the CD Quiet Heart, Spirit Wind, bamboo and alto flutes by Richard Warner. (I did and it’s so soothing it’s almost magical.)(Amy)

To Get Help

  • Make a list of things you need such as: change the oil in the car, fill the gas tank, write out checks to pay bills and you sign them, wash a load of clothes, grocery shopping, etc. Then whenever anyone asks if there is anything they can do for you, say, “Are you really serious? Because I have a list of 20 things.” Pull out your list and sign them up! (Judy)

  • Learn what’s available to you. For example Rotary has walkers and wheelchairs to lend. If you’re a member of an ambulance service, they offer what’s called lift assist. For no charge they will transport the patient out of the house to the car and assist when you return from a medical appointment. (Judy)

  • Home health nurses can come do an assessment and if needed provide therapies in the home. (Hal now has this! Yippee!) (Bernie)

  • Many grocery stores provide an online order service. Go online, make your list, they pull the order together and either deliver it for a fee or you can pick it up yourself! (Bernie)

In the last month we have used almost every one of these, and they’ve been so helpful! Hal is in the slow but steady process of healing and I am less stressed. What a gift it has been for me to receive these treasures. Thank you, thank you to you who sent them. I hope that my passing them along will lighten someone’s load, brighten some reader’s day.


  • Please join me for a 45-minute telegathering to explore ways to manage stress by sharing in more depth. Call Monday, May 9, 2011, at noon Eastern (11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. Pacific) 1-218-862-1300 PIN: 276583. No need to register…just call at that time!

Read an excerpt from Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, the book Hal and I wrote, at

Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach and would be happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session by phone.

Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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