By Colleen Kettenhofen

“Reality is the leading cause of stress for those in touch with it.” ~ Jane Wagner

Today we’re all busy. Many of us feel added pressure with pagers, faxes, cell phones, kids, and co-workers. And under tight deadlines, stress levels can skyrocket.

Here are a few quick and easy tips for managing stress.

  1. Are you a worrier? It’s been said that today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. Realize that thoughts are mental energy. They may not seem like anything because they’re intangible and invisible. And in western culture, we tend to not believe what we can’t see. If you have a negative thought, ask yourself if that thought is unfounded in reality. Are you catastrophizing? If so, practice the opposite and CANtastrophize. Envision the best-case scenario that could possibly unfold. It doesn’t take any more energy to imagine the best outcome. Then, apply that to all those outside situations beyond your control. Go from being a worrier to a WARRIOR!
  2. Focus on your strengths, not on your weaknesses. Certainly, you want to develop and work on any “weak links” you may possess. But ultimately, you’ll move forward at a more positive pace by placing your energy on projects where you perform at your best. Staying focused on your weaknesses is the surest way to sabotage. Perfectionists take note; the average American is 32 years old, married, laughs 15 times a day, and has 27 trillion fat cells. Nobody’s perfect! Go easy on yourself.
  3. Get up in the morning thirty minutes earlier. Start your day with solitude and more clarity by rising a half hour earlier than those in your household. Spend quiet time journaling, praying, or meditating. Just begin by writing your thoughts, any dreams you remember, goals, and even fears. Writing is very cathartic and can help you sort out challenges. After that, think about how to organize your day. Visualize yourself being confident, successful, and productive.
  4. Spend time outdoors and out in nature, especially in fall and winter when the days become shorter, it’s imperative to spend time outdoors every day. Even if it’s gray and overcast, research shows that time spent in daylight, especially in the morning, helps reduce “SAD,” or Seasonal Affect Disorder. So if you live where there isn’t a lot of sun, just spending time outdoors lifts your spirit. For example, I used to live in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest. Even in the dead of winter I would notice a positive shift in my mood when I spent time walking outside, or going to the dog park with my “dog daughter,” Joy.
  5. Laughter is serious business! It’s a well-known fact that laughter helps reduce stress and build the immune system. Laughter IS the best medicine and it’s why hospitals often hire comedians to come in and converse with patients. Laughter gets those endorphins or “feel good” hormones into the brain and elevates your mood.
  6. Reward yourself for a job well done. Indulge in a massage, movie, or trip to the mountains. Maybe for you it’s visiting a museum, or going to a well-deserved sporting event. Remember progressive dinners where the neighbors go from house to house sampling different dishes? It brings everyone together and best of all, it’s fun and frugal.
  7. Don’t overreact when dealing with difficult people – especially antagonists. These difficult people are what I call “pot-stirrers” in that they usually have a desire for dissension.  These individuals purposely try to rattle your cage, ruffle your feathers, and get you to say something you’ll regret. Don’t lose your cool or they’ll keep pressing your buttons! We’ve all heard the phrase “think before you speak,” but it’s hard to remember when you’re in the heat of the moment. Remain calm, collected and objective. And whatever you do, don’t overreact. Better yet, wait until you’ve cooled your jets until you say anything. Otherwise, they’ve beaten you at their game. As well-known speaker, Zig Ziglar, says, “No one can get your goat if they don’t know where it’s tied up.”
  8. Check your adult at the door. Act like a kid again! Play, run, and engage in a favorite sport. Go running on the beach, or try your hand at a hobby you haven’t done in years – something like flying a kite or playing Frisbee.

Decide today to make a commitment to do one activity that will reduce your stress and maximize success. What you do in the present determines your future.

“To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.” ~ Milan Kundera


Colleen Kettenhofen is an award-winning speaker, author, and media veteran, who has presented keynotes and seminars before thousands in 48 U.S. states and five foreign countries. Colleen has conducted more than 1,100 dynamic programs on dealing with difficult people, leadership, presentation skills, and change/stress management. She is the author of “Secrets Your Boss Isn’t Telling You,” and “Adopting Joy,” due out in summer 2011, as well as the creator of 10 unique audio programs. For more information, or to sign up for Colleen’s newsletter, visit Colleen is available for speaking, coaching, and consulting by calling (971) 212-0479.