How to Deal with Unnecessary Stress and Steps to Move Through It


Stress with ball & chain

Stress with ball & chain


by Janie Smith, Founder and Author of HOPE Beyond Trauma


Stress is a part of life that can push and motivate us to accomplish things we never thought possible OR stress can paralyze us to do absolutely nothing. However, today so many of us are dealing with the unnecessary stresses in life that complicate and makes caregiving all the harder to handle. Let’s get rid of those stresses, so you are lighter and much abler to deal with the normal everyday stresses that come with caregiving.

Some of the unnecessary stresses people pile onto their plate everyday are: 1. Guilt, carrying this heavy burden on your shoulders alone is enough to drag anyone to their early grave. 2. Bitterness and 3. Being unforgiving of yourself and others. These last two are so toxic and age us before our time. When working with family members and clients…these stresses seem to stand-out above the rest. They have been carrying these three extremely heavy and I say unnecessary long-term burdens for decades, I said…DECADES…not days, months or years…DECADES!!!

I really get that these are not easy issues to work through and some of these issues really have some ugly facets that are extremely hurtful going deep to the very core of our beings. I have dealt with many myself and it takes time to work through them. These types of stresses have a way of raising their spiteful heads at our most vulnerable moments and catch us off guard, no doubt. However, there are strategies to work through them so you can live without carrying these burdens long term.

One of my favorite questions to ask is: How is guilt, bitterness and/or being unforgiving SERVING YOU? Their answer (after they give it a lot of thought), ALWAYS, bar none, it doesn’t serve them at all BUT they don’t know how to let go of it OR they don’t want to let go of it…just yet because _________________. Somehow carrying the guilt, bitterness and/or being unforgiving alleviates our responsibility to be able to move forward. We have a purpose to hanging on, we ‘need’ this in our lives we reason in our minds in order to ‘punish’ ourselves or the offender. Sometimes, we reason this is our ‘penance’ and if we suffer enough it will have served a purpose, or so we believe.

Teaching someone strategies in how to let go issues like this is the ‘easier’ one to deal with as a coach. When someone wants to hang-on to any of these issues… there’s really nothing that I or anyone else can say or do to help them.

Recently, I had one of my toughest client’s state…she finally wanted to move forward through the hatred, bitterness and guilt because she was tired of living like this. Hurrah!!! This is the first and most important step. Now, how to do it…is the next question, when in reality she has conditioned herself to hold on to all of these burdens. Some people, once they become aware of what they have been doing to themselves can turn it off like a ‘light switch.’ More often we need more assistance, support and guidance.

Here are some strategies, that have worked for me and my clients. This process will take some reconditioning on your part because just like exercising your body, you will need to exercise your mind to think differently when the issues rear its ugly head.

First, ask yourself: How is my guilt, bitterness, and/or being unforgiving serving me? Is it making my life easier, or do I feel weighed down? Am I really ‘punishing’ them? In reality they are probably not thinking about it to the extent you are, if at all.

Second: Take a deep breath, visualize all of these burdens inside your body, feel the weight of it all. Hold it for 10 to 20 seconds.

Third: Let your breath out slowly, releasing the weight of all these burdens to the universe (to God, your faith, nature, whatever your belief system is)

Repeat as often as necessary. Awareness is the key, when you become ‘aware’ that you are doing this to yourself; then take this next step. Tweak this process however you like to make it work for you. It helps me to step away and become an ‘observer’ of my own actions and thought process.

Other ways to ‘let go’ can be the following; add to this list what you believe will work for you…there are so many ways to do this; not just these few.

  1. Listen to music that calms you
  2. Meditation
  3. Walking/working in nature
  4. Being grateful

My hope for you is that you learn to let go of long-term unnecessary stresses that weigh you down and keep you from being the very best you!


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