A Great Way to Deal With Stress

When you realize this little-understood fact about stress, it becomes a lot easier to ignore.

Recognize stress for what it actually is: fiction. Worse: it’s really lousy fiction. If you can do that, stress becomes a lot easier to ignore.

One evening I was driving with my wife to an event. Crawling, actually. Traffic was awful. I was engaged in my normal routine for these situations — curse, whine, scream, whimper, repeat. Finally my wife (who was sitting beside me and yet had somehow managed not to kill herself) said calmly, “Yes, we’re stuck in traffic and we might be late. Your reaction to that fact will have no effect on the outcome. So, do you want to be miserable for the whole drive, or do you want to relax?”

Light bulb! That’s when it finally hit me: stress is all made up. In that traffic jam, stress wasn’t something I was “suffering from.” It was something I had created in my mind. In fact, it was something I had to continually recreate in my mind, over and over. Because the second I stopped worrying about being late… or feeling angry about being late… or playing these scary what-if-we’re late (fictional) scenarios in my mind… I would stop creating that stress.

Always remember: stress is not your reality; it’s only your perception of your reality. And if you can make it up, you can also not make it up.

About the Author

Robbie Hyman is a professional communications and public affairs writer. He has 15 years’ experience writing for nonprofits, small business and multibillion-dollar international organizations and is available as a freelance writer for federal agencies.

Robbie has written thousands of pages of content, including white papers, speeches, published articles, reports, manuals, newsletters, video scripts, advertisements, technical document and other materials. He is also co-founder of MoneySavvyTeen.com, an online course that teaches smart money habits to teenagers.