Stress is not an event but rather a learned, perhaps even a chosen, reaction to an event. Or even just its possibility.
Telling a person undergoing a stress reaction that he has chosen to feel this way can be a great way to have your head taken off. Yet at some level it is true.
Stress is a reaction to an event, not the event itself, and it is a reaction that can in turn be moderated and muted. Not necessarily easily, but it can be done. Exercise, visualization, deep breathing, hypnosis, therapy, counseling, coaching, meditation, distraction, re-focusing or re-framing are all cognitive behavior techniques that can be used to re-learn stress reactions.
My favorite technique is to tell myself that there is some guy on the other side of the world who is not the least concerned about this event, not the least stressed out, couldn’t care less. Of course, my emotions yell back at me: “Okay, that may be but that’s just because it is not happening to him.”
To which my reply is, “You want to be effective? You want to be at your best? Relax and be that non-involved other-side-of-the-world person, at least until you resolve this issue. Don his emotional indifference as if it were armor, use his calm, his tranquility. Lighten up, settle down, Zen your way to success.”
It’s not a panacea but it frequently works and always reduces my anxiety levels, increases my creativity, and boosts my energy or re-directs it in positive ways.
“There is nothing but that thought, does not make it so.”
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”