To Control Stress, Take Time to Control Your Thoughts


Another post today from Darla Breckenridge, Green Mountain’s “Stress Management Strategy Lady.”


Yes. Stress happens. Mostly on the stage between your ears. Listening in on those mighty conversations you have with yourself can offer important information for managing stress. Our interpretation of events leads to our actions and emotional reactions.


  • Some people get stressed when it rains.  Others just put on their rain jacket or use an umbrella and go blithely about their business.
  • Even though it routinely occurs, some people get stressed in a traffic jam and go home and bite the dog because they are “so stressed.” Others bebop to their iPod tunes or listen to books on tape.
  • Procrastination, often referred to as avoidance behavior, causes stress for some and exuberant bursts of focused, last-minute energy for others.  Have you noticed that at times you have “productive procrastination?” That is, you get a lot of things done that really need doing while you’re avoiding doing the most dreaded task.


This is all about you and your choices in managing your life.<!–more–> Thoughts are behaviors, covert behaviors, that occur without conscious attention. You can choose to exercise conscious control just by listening to your self-talk. You can interrupt your habitual self-talk and learn to replace them with thoughts that take you where you want to go. Often we’re stressed where reality and expectations fail to meet. The wider the divide, the more likely we are to feel chronically disappointed or stressed.

  • Is it realistic to expect we’ll have a big block of time to work on a project or is the reality that our available time comes in small increments here and there?
  • Is it realistic to expect that we’ll never see-food-eat-it when we “didn’t have time” for a regular meal, or is the reality a lack of planning to take time to eat the right foods?

If you are serious about de-stressing, try this one idea to start: Never let the words “I don’t have time” cross your mind or pass your lips. Those words take away your sense of being in control. There is nothing that everyone on earth has in equal amounts other than ‘time.’ We all use it differently based on personal choices. Consider saying this instead:

  • I didn’t allow (enough) time for this.
  • I said ‘yes’ to doing this when I needed to say ‘no.’
  • I didn’t make this a true priority.
  • I needed to ask for help.
  • I took on something I could have delegated.
  • I need to trust others enough to allow them to do things their way. Let them make mistakes.
  • I’m allowing others to dictate my priorities without my uttering a word otherwise.
  • I need to have a central calendar for work and personal.

Are you avoiding? Or are you rootless and disorganized and don’t know where to start? Expose yourself to scrutiny on this issue of avoidance. There are many ways to understand the approach/avoidance stand you take with yourself. I implore you, start with this one small change. It’ll lead you toward solutions.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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