Stress Management - Stalking Your Intention for Stress Reduction

Does this scenario fit your stressed out life?

You have said, "I have just had it with all this stress!" a dozen times recently. You have great intentions to change the way you respond to stress -- exercise, deep breathing, soothing music, refusing to argue with your teenager, living within your budget, etc. You manage fine for a day or two and then -- Whammo! You are right back to reacting. You are up to your eyeballs in stress again. Not only are you frustrated and wiped out emotionally, you are judging yourself for not sticking to your plan.

If you know what you need to change, but you haven't been able to stay on track with your plan, consider the following tips.

1. Tackle No More Than Three Strategies at Once

Focus on only one, two or perhaps three new de-stressing habits, qualities, actions or strategies at a time. This way, you will keep your objectives within reach rather than overwhelming yourself. You will find it easier to remember your intentions and stick to your plan.

2. Track Your Stress Reduction Process and Progress

Track your process (your focus on your intention) and/or your progress daily, using a rating scale, a check box or a descriptive word system. Tracking is simply a way of neutrally observing and measuring your progress.

In my extensive experience, paying attention without judgment at least once a day to your desired stress relief strategy strongly reinforces your effort.

It's as if by paying attention, watching and observing a particular area, you let your heart and mind know this is an important area of life. Regardless of whether you rate yourself high or low, you are making the process noteworthy and in a relatively short time you should discover some desired changes unfolding.

Please note that small and gradual changes are often more powerful in the long run because you are more likely to integrate and maintain them.


For instance, use a rating scale from 1-10 if you are watching your ability to stay calm with your teenager. You simply consider how you fared at the end of each day and take about 15 seconds to assign a rating number and write it into your calendar.

Use a check mark (or sticker or star) to indicate, "Yes, I did it." Check offs are useful for new habits like spending five minutes in quiet relaxation morning and evening.

Use a descriptive word system if you don't relate to numbers or check marks. For example, if your intention is to use creative problem solving to head off stressful situations, you could write a word or brief phrase on your calendar each day, such as, "Compromised with boys." "Used humor!" "Suggested tennis." "Walking helped."

3. Reward Yourself for Playing the Game

Give yourself a small reward each week just for paying attention to your stress reduction process.

Regardless of your perceived progress or change in ratings, you deserve acknowledgment for sticking with your intention, holding your focus and making small steps in your preferred direction of less stress.

Goal: Long Term Change for Stress Relief

Remember, your goal at this point is not for instant and complete stress reduction. Your goal is to stick with your process of change long enough to learn and integrate new habits. Tracking reinforces the process so you can transform your habitual responses for lasting stress relief!

And now, if you'd like more stress reduction tips, I invite you to sign up for my free newsletter, 17 Simple Stress Solutions, at

Also, feel free to check out my articles on success, less stress, and my Ask Dr. Ilenya advice column at my blog,

Dr. Ilenya Marrin is a spiritual counselor, inspirational speaker and author of ebooks The Power of Personal Peace: Reducing Stress by Loving Yourself from the Inside Out and 77 Loving Steps for Success.

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