Stress Relief: I’m Outta my Mind, So Feel Free to Leave a Message

By Kelli S. Vrla 


Never fails: after I tell a passenger seated next to me I teach stress-relief seminars, my luggage is lost when we land. She smiles at me and asks, “What are you gonna do now, Stress Lady?” I do what I always do: smile and breathe deeply- several times.

Some folks are convinced that stress is still good for you. Here are a few reasons I’ve heard on why you should stay stressed

  • It helps you seem important.
  • It helps you keep your personal space and avoid intimacy.
  • It help you avoid responsibilities.
  • It gives you an adrenalin rush.
  • It helps you avoid success.
  • It help you keep that authoritarian style you love so much.

If you buy into this theory, here are a few ways to stay stressed:

  • Eat anything you want.
  • Gain weight.
  • Take lots of stimulants.
  • Personalize all criticisms.
  • Toss your sense of humor.
  • Become a workaholic.
  • Toss food time management skills.
  • Procrastinate.
  • Ask stupid questions…repeatedly.
  • Worry about things you can’t control.

Granted, some stress is good – if it kicks you into high gear. Yet, if you want more stress-free days, you have to create a new set of habits. Not all your days will be perfect, yet it’s a good start to a more balanced life with better health.

Here are a few stress-busting habits to try:

  1. Expect the unexpected and be ready to roll with it. Most of us are married to a certain outcome: how a person will act of react, whether our plane arrives on time, or when we will receive that report we requested. If we are ready for any outcome, we can quickly roll to Plan B in the event that our original wish list did not come true, So, instead of being married to an outcome, think of it as a “prenuptial agreement” with flexibility.
  2. Mentally rehearse a Plan B. Adopt an adaptable mindset. Make adaptability a part of your daily routine. Think of yourself as a Ninja Warrior in a video game with obstacle whizzing at you. To win the game, you have to quickly fend off and move onto the next level, always moving forward, getting ever closer to finishing the transaction at hand. Entertain different scenarios, much like an airline pilot would in the event you lose an engine. Visualize what you would do if the day completely fell apart. You will be more ready to take on scenarios you have previously thought about, rather than avoiding them altogether.
  3. Neutralize any situation with these magic words: “That’s interesting.” This evokes a mindset of curiosity, not of position. Instead of polarizing your thoughts into good or bad, it allows the neutral frame of reference. When times are tough, you need to get out of your emotional, knee-jerk response mode and immediately go into a problem solving flow. Your body will follow the mindset you initiate.
  4. Accept the rhythms of your business. All days cannot be perfect, nor cal all days be the absolute worst. To quote one of my favorite bumper stickers, “Some days you’re the windshield; some does you’re the bug.: Relish the good times and treat the challenging times as moments for growth. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing- and may be coasting. Don’t let your mind get stagnate.
  5. Hang out with adaptable, less-stressed folks. Know people who seem well adjusted and non-plussed by life’s curve balls. Watch them and see how they handle little surprises. If you were to write a short report on their observable actions, what verbs would you use? This is a  key to understanding good modeling survival behavior.
  6. Practice Stress-Busting Phrases. If you face a potentially stressful situation, try on of these forward thinking phrases:
    1. What’s Plan B?
    2. 100 years from now, all new people.
    3. At least we don’t work for Enron (or Martha Stewart, Inc…fill in your fave)
    4. Things could be even worse!

What will you do differently this year to make a difference in your professional and personal growth?

Some stress is good. Harness your good stress and work on getting rid of the bad stress. You’ll soon be on the road to stress relief, and no one will have a clue why you’re smiling the next time you’ve lost your luggage.


VrlaKelly Vrla is a Rockies-based Leadership Consultant and Keynote Speaker and a Road Warrior for Humor in the Workplace. Her festive deliveries help you people have more fun and get more done. She can be reached for keynotes and workshops at or email 214-987-HAHA(4242). Stay light and practice, practice, practice!


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