Skip to content

    Mental Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Daily Words of Wisdom

    So stressed you could scream? This simple strategy can take you from panic to peace in a single phrase.

    WebMD Feature from "Good Housekeeping" Magazine

    By Beth Levine
    Good Housekeeping Magazine Logo
    So stressed you could scream? This simple strategy can take you from panic to peace in a single phrase.

    We all know what it's like to be on the brink of losing it. Overstuffed schedules, the competing demands of family and work, the sting of setbacks and disappointments, and the trauma of a troubled economy can gang up to push us near the edge of the ledge. But a surprisingly easy and effective technique can help us avert meltdown. Repeating a positive, personal phrase — a meaningful motto minted from life experience, plucked from a favorite book or movie, or borrowed from a role model — can refocus our priorities, remind us that we're competent and capable, calm us down, and propel us forward. Exhausted runners call these affirmations "marathon mantras" and repeat them during grueling stretches when they're on the verge of quitting. This strategy can work for anyone; Herbert Benson, M.D., director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine in Boston, recommends it for lowering stress in everyday life. Repeating a meaningful phrase, he says, breaks the train of anxious thought. Research suggests that the technique can rewire some anxiety circuits in the brain.

    We asked women across the country what words of wisdom they summon to restore perspective when they're about to spiral out of control. Borrow theirs or, better yet, coin your own.

    When life looks like it's falling apart, it may just be falling in place

    —Beverly Solomon, 55, Lampasas, TX; creative director

    "When my husband and I left Houston to restore an 1856 ranch in the Texas Hill Country, it seemed like everything that could possibly go wrong did. I was starting to have doubts about our decision. But then I realized that all of these 'bad things' had to happen — and this affirmation came to me. Now I say it to myself whenever something upsetting happens."

    Will this matter five years from now? No? Then get over it.

    —Hali Chambers, 45, Luray, VA; massage therapist

    "I use it whenever little disasters stress me out — I miss an important phone call, say — or if someone cuts me off while driving. It helps me keep perspective on what's important: family, friends, staying centered."

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    contemplation
    Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
    lunar eclipse
    Signs of mania and depression.
     
    man screaming
    Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
    woman looking into fridge
    When food controls you.
     
    Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
    Article
    senior man eating a cake
    Article
     
    Phobias
    Slideshow
    woman reading medicine warnings
    Article
     
    depressed young woman
    Article
    man with arms on table
    Article
     
    veteran
    Article
    man cringing and covering ears
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections