Matanzas inlet, on the water

One of the most powerful ways we can take good care of ourselves is by keeping our stress in check. Because, let’s face it, stress is inevitable.

In his book Making Your Creative Mark: Nine Keys to Achieving Your Artistic Goalsauthor and creativity coach Eric Maisel suggests readers consider a series of questions when managing stress.

I think these questions are helpful for all of us to ask ourselves. In fact, we can benefit from doing this kind of checkup every few weeks.

Stress festers, simmers and balloons. It skyrockets particularly when we’re using unhealthy ways to deal with it, which we might do, without even realizing it.

Without even realizing it, you might be skimping on sleep to get more done. Without even realizing it, you might be having a few drinks too many at dinner.

Without even realizing it, you might be isolating yourself or turning to toxic people for support. You might be skipping other self-care practices that are key to your well-being.

Here are several questions Maisel suggests asking. Respond to them on paper. Jotting down your responses gives you more clarity (and it’s less stuff you have to keep in your head).

  • “What are your current stressors?
  • What unhealthy strategies are you employing to deal with these stressors?
  • What healthy strategies are you employing to deal with these stressors?
  • What new stress management strategies do you want to learn?”

Taking a closer look at the stressors in your life can help you make deliberate, healthy decisions. This quiets the overwhelm, and helps you make sense of it.

It helps you realize the ways you might be perpetuating and fueling your stress.

And, most importantly, it helps you take action, so you don’t feel stuck or paralyzed.

You also can consider the stress-relieving methods you’d like to try. Maybe you’d like to learn to meditate, practice yoga, set healthy boundaries or manage your time better.

Stress is overwhelming and frustrating. It has a way of clouding your judgment, distorting your thoughts and forcing you into survival mode.

Joyful activities and moments don’t feel so joyful anymore. Your worlds feels smaller, and you might feel like you’re suffocating or trapped in an impossible situation.

That’s why identifying your specific stressors and figuring out the specific ways you’re going to handle them is incredibly invaluable.

It takes something nebulous and overwhelming and scary and brings it down to size. It’s like taking a big project and breaking it down into bite-sized, feasible steps.

It gives you power at a time when you didn’t think you had any at all.

What are your favorite ways to manage stress? What techniques would you like to learn more about? 



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    Last reviewed: 18 Sep 2013

APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2013). How To Navigate Overwhelming Stressors. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 1, 2015, from




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