3 Choices Bust You Out Of Stress

There is not a day that passes without stressful situations, people or thoughts.  The fast pace of work, uncompromising drive to perform, competitive nature of people and lack of down time all contribute to what has become an epidemic of stress-related issues.  It isn’t just emotions that are affected either.

“Just talking about stress management… stresses me out.  I don’t want to manage stress. I want to tame it, rise above it, get stronger and then move on.” ~ Lane Michel

Our whole being is being depleted daily through dealing with stress the way we learned as we grew up in a world that doesn’t exist now.  Our emotions are stretched to the point of desensitization.  Our mind is exercised to the point of exhaustion, consuming negativity and narrowing focus.  Our body is a battery emptied before the end of the day when we are supposed to recharge… which doesn’t happen because sleepless nights from stress interrupt our natural process for regeneration.  Our spirit is disconnected and too far away too often leaving us confused, bewildered or hopeless.  It can easily feel like we are in a little life raft in the middle of the ocean experiencing one perfect storm after another while we bale out the raft and try to survive until rescue arrives.

In truth, the rescue comes from within us. We can be supported by tools, practices and others to learn new ways to rise above daily stress and extreme life events. A great deal of research has contributed to chart a course to thriving, not just surviving, through life’s stressors.

3 stress busting choices will change your relationship with stress, forever:

  1. Build resilience… to keep your energy up before and during stress

  2. Pause briefly… to rise above any stressor

  3. Hold appreciation in your heart… to positively shift your power

3 choices bust you out of stress


Our first choice is to build the capacity to be resilient during times of stress. New research over the last 10 years has established that emotions play a much greater role in our health than previously accepted. In fact, emotional intelligence is key to improving physiology, health, mental clarity and performance in every aspect of our life. Emotions and our heart as a regulator of emotions turn out to be key to building resilience.

The Institute of HeartMath (www.heartmath.org), leading researcher for bridging the connection between our heart and mind, defines resilience as the capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt in the face of stress, challenge and adversity. Resilience is the most effective personal skill needed because without intelligently managing our personal energy, we cannot succeed in the world we have created today.

If the level of stress, challenge or adversity remains high without adequate tools for maintaining resilience, then:

  • Personal energy becomes drained

  • Perception narrows

  • Depleting emotions dominate thoughts words and actions

  • Performance declines

  • Burn out, poor decision-making and declining health result

The keys to energy self-regulation and improved performance are:

  • Self-awareness… what stressor is draining your energy?

  • Breathe… deeper, slower breathing establishes an inner calm

  • Learn personal practices to stop depleting and start renewing energy

Developing resilience skills enables greater capacity to store and efficiently utilize our human energy system. Building increasing levels of the physiological state called coherence leads to an optimal state in which heart, mind and emotions are aligned and in sync leading to sustained health and performance. Heart Rhythms, specifically Heart Rate Variability, provide a measurable window to monitor and manage resilience. Proven technology has enabled simple feedback apps and devices (such as those from HeartMath) that coach, train and support development of resilience skills.

The most important step in instantly building our resilience, while experiencing a stressful situation, is to remember to breathe.  No one even needs to know that we are taking a little slower, deeper breath.  Just choosing to breathe opens up the potential to rise above stress.

We can choose to quickly build skills and habits that harness the intersection of science and consciousness practices for significantly improved personal and professional effectiveness.


Just a simple pause will change our world.  We don’t have to react to everything so quickly.  We don’t have to fight every moment.  We don’t have to see everything as a battle or war or competition.  We don’t have to make sure that we come out ahead of everyone else.  We don’t have to be embarrassed, guilty, shameful or regretful because of our reactions.

3 choices bust you out of stress

We call this “Pause for Choice” because this simple act of pausing for as little as a few seconds enables your higher intelligence to engage. You can override a reaction that is might be inappropriate, inflammatory, shameful or any other negative of a long list of the source of many regrets or guilty feelings that merely add to our stress. The time it takes to reverse the damage done — to correct the reaction and the resulting negative consequences — is so much greater than this short pause.

When we are in conflict, challenged or having trouble focusing but feel pressured to do something our stress levels rise further. If we aren’t being physically attacked, then we all have the ability to pause. When the pause is inserted after taking a breath and before opening our mouth, we all realize just how much wiser we can be.  We have so many ways to handle things better.

Some techniques for learning to insert a pause include:

  • Count to 3 before opening your mouth to reply or respond to others

  • Ask trusted friends to help catch reactions

  • While speaking pay attention to heartbeat; increased heart rate is a sign of reacting

  • When surrounded by anger, remove yourself to gain perspective

  • A rubber band on our wrist can be snapped when we should have paused but didn’t to remind us next time to take a pause

  • Practice role playing the pause with co-workers and friends

After learning to insert the pause, then listen and connect with what is around. What really is going on? Asking that question to our self in the pause enables us to listen for our own intelligence and intuition. It is far easier to choose the words to speak or the action to take when it comes from within us. If there is no insight gained yet, pause a little more to understand who is speaking and what they are really saying.  Often others or our reactions come from external and unrelated to situation we found ourselves.  A pause allows for clearer heads to prevail.  Diffusing any situation takes mental and emotional clarity that can be delivered quickly with a pause.

With practice and building confidence in the pause, it becomes so easy that people find them self unconsciously inserting pauses in conversations all day long. It just becomes a new normal. Can you imagine how much more kind and thoughtful our world can be if more people engaged their intellect more often by slowing down only a few seconds to pause?


One of the largest sources of stress is conflict.  A common thread to conflict is a lack of caring, understanding or compassion.  It is true that nearly all conflict can be traced back to unresolved emotions.  The depleting, heavy and negative feelings that hang out in our energy are felt by others near and far.  Most often, we are oblivious to the true emotions generating conflict.  Being unaware of these emotions builds stress within us and can easily trigger stress in others. It is helpful to remember Wendy Mass’ words, “be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about.”

3 choices bust you out of stress

Daily living induces stress as well. In any given day we can experience stress creators such as being cut-off while driving to work, children testing their parent’s patience past the limits, financial worries, negative media streaming bad news constantly or simply the “final straw“ of an accumulation of stress over time.  We are drawn in to what seems so very important in the moment.  Our perspective and attention narrows to the point where we may even forget that others are experiencing stress at the same time.  The daily adventure we call life pulls us away from our heart if we are not skilled in remaining centered, grounded and aware of our surroundings. What seems natural to focus internally actually works against us. The result can only be a collision of circumstances that will inevitably produce more stress.

In the very second when we feel like pulling away, the third choice to make is to hold appreciation for something, anything, in our heart. The appreciation can be for a person, place, experience or thing.  What matters the most is that we feel deep appreciation.  Most often the object of our appreciation comes to us without effort, but if there is a struggle to find something, here are a few ideas to illustrate how simple we can begin with appreciation and still have a positive impact:

  • The sun rising reminds us that “every day is a new discovery”

  • How a favorite food tasted

  • The scent of a flower, fresh rain, incense or another loved fragrance.

  • A moment in time you hold as dear

  • A childhood victory that delighted you

  • The smile on a child playing without a care

  • The unconditional love of an animal

You want to have a few of these objects of appreciation practiced before you make the first choice to Build Resilience and the second choice to Pause. This allows you to instantly shift your reality once you take the third step with Appreciation.

Simply by putting attention on the feeling of appreciation we are keeping our heart intelligence engaged in the situation we are facing.  Many studies have shown that by holding the feeling of appreciation in our heart a shift can be felt within and around us. Our heart’s electromagnetic field carries messages through feelings, thoughts and intentions that influence our environment. We can choose to either continue to transmit more stress, more heavy emotions, more confused energy or we can access and activate caring, understanding or compassion through this simple action to return to one of our most powerful emotions, appreciation.


3 choices bust you out of stress

Alleviating stress seems out of the question. Avoiding stress is impossible while we are still breathing. The best solution for stress then is to shift our self completely into a place where a new foundation for quickly busting through stress is possible. The great news is that with three quick choices, you can.

  1. Building resilience starts with a slow, deep breath allowing us to

  2. Pause in order to listen and connect with

  3. Appreciation held in our heart.

The most effective tools and practices in life are truly simple. The beauty of these three choices you can make is that they can be done in less than a minute having a positive impact on stress in your life.


~ Coach Lane Michel