Daily Words of Wisdom
So stressed you could scream? This simple strategy can take you from panic to peace in a single phrase.
By Beth Levine
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."
When I focus on what's good, I have a good day.
—Meg Joseph, 42, New Rochelle, NY; community college marketing
"I say that to myself when I'm confronted with a setback. Recently, I just
couldn't complete a grant application by the deadline. Instead of beating
myself up about it, I focused on two good things — first, that I could finish
up the proposal when I had more time and apply next year, and second, that I
now had more time to focus on my family. I could feel the tension releasing