Stress is a choice

About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

I‘ll readily admit it: We’ve had a tough year. A semi-complicated pregnancy, health issues for our middle son, and a sudden, unplanned international move has made the past seven months — well, a doozy.

My emotions have been all over the place, but even in the midst of the highs and the lows, the near-constant feeling I’ve had for awhile is stress.

Which is why it hit me like an anvil to the head when I read this a week ago:

Stress is a choice. Do you buy that? Some people have a hard time with the idea. …Yes, bad things happen: The economy sours, our business struggles, the stock market tumbles, jobs are lost, people around us don’t follow through, deadlines are missed, projects fail, good people leave. Life is full of these. But still, stress is a choice because whatever the ‘trigger event,’ we always choose our own response. We choose to react angrily. We choose to stuff our emotions and keep quiet. We choose to worry. …Stress is a choice.”

-John G. Miller, QBQ! The Question Behind the Question

So in essence, Miller is saying that I’m choosing to be stressed. And he’s right.

Granted, there are many circumstances where stress is a logical reaction, from the serious to the trivial. I can feel my blood pressure rise when the baby is crying and shows no signs of stopping. During a layover, when we’re racing to the departure gate with four suitcases, a stroller, and a toddler who insists on walking, sure — who wouldn’t feel a bit stressed? If a gun was pointed to my head, I guarantee you my stress level would rise just a wee bit.

But it’s still my choice. Stress isn’t happening to me, it’s a reaction to a situation I’m allowing.

It’s funny, because I tell my daughter this all the time about her anger. When she and her brother are fighting over a toy, she’ll often yell, “He’s making me so angry!” I’ll gently remind her that no, he’s not making her angry. She’s choosing to be angry because of something he’s doing.

How is stress any different, really?

Photo by Jeff Turner

For me, I’ve taken this lesson to heart lately, and have been better able to fight my temptation to feel overly stressed. Stress might still be a logical reaction to a situation, but it’s usually not helpful. Or at least, it’s not usually necessary to feel quite so stressed.

Do you feel stressed when your kids are yelling? Are you inclined to stress when you’re running late to pick them up from dance practice? When your in-laws said something rather maddening, do you feel your blood pressure rise?

It helps to take a deep breath and remember that you don’t have to choose stress. You can choose level-headedness. You can choose to be calm. Stress doesn’t make the situation any better, worse, or different. It’s simply a reaction, one you can change.

We parents face a lot of daily pressure. Stress is typical. But we don’t have to be stressed in difficult situations. We can choose to be calm.

What tempts you to feel stressed?

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  1. Haha – my kids :)
    I’ve been taking Lisa Byrne’s online course about stress and it is AMAZING. I am learning so much – there is so much more to our stress responses than I knew, and so much more I can be doing to change those responses through quite practical things.
    Emma´s latest post: friday art

    • Me too! Before taking the course, I would have thought I was just not very good at “choosing” a proper response to my circumstances. Now I feel very empowered to tackle the stress responses that I have struggled with in the past. I think there is way more to it than just “choosing” not to stress!

  2. What a coincidence. Just today I’ve talk in my little blog about my stress, my tiredness and what I miss sleep.
    giozi´s latest post: Dormir a pierna suelta

  3. My kids, my husband, my job, my house. What has always amazed me is that in truly stressful situations, like life-or-death/illness moments, I automatically get very calm and business-like. It’s the little stuff that stresses me out. Funny, isn’t it?
    WorkingMom´s latest post: Its ALIVE!!!

    • Yes!! Me too…it’s really rather silly, when I think about it.

      Our toddler was diagnosed with a serious blood disorder a couple of years ago that required STAT testing, an overnight drive to the hospital, more testing, no sleep, a hospital stay, blah, blah, blah. Me = cool, calm and collected even though I was very worried.

      In my last unmedicated labor, my OB asked if I was always this calm when handling stress. I was about to answer, but before I could, my husband piped in, “No, only with the big things. She gets stressed over the little things.” Gee, thanks, honey.

      But it’s so true!
      Mandi @ Organizing Your Way´s latest post: Question of the Day- What’s Your Passion

    • I’m the same way!

  4. Now that all our lives get busier and busier, stress is definitely a major issue. I agree with you, Tsh, that stress is a response that you can more or less keep under control. There are several ways to deal with it and, like Emma said, there are good courses out there. On the other side, stress means your body is trying to tell you something. Maybe you have too much on your plate and should slow down or take a break for a while. Something to think about.
    Alison @ Femita´s latest post: Health Knowledge Quiz – What Do You Really Know About Health Issues

    • On the other side, stress means your body is trying to tell you something. Maybe you have too much on your plate and should slow down or take a break for a while.

      Yep, definitely. Very good point!

  5. The timing of this article is pretty funny for me, I just made the decision yesterday not not let my 3 year old stress me out. He’s reached the whiny stage (instead of “Can I have a glass of milk please?” I’m getting “Muuuuuuuuuuummmmmmyyyyyyyy, Miiiiiiiilk?!!” Urgh.) and I can either deal with it properly or spend all day feeling stressed about it. I chose the former and I like to think I’ve been doing well.

    I actually have OCD, so stress is a really huge part of my life and dealing with it can sometimes be a lot more difficult than for someone without OCD, but it is still absolutely my choice to make.
    Satakieli´s latest post: Chicken- Rice and Bean Salad

  6. A couple of years ago I used to have a long lazy afternoon out with the kids and a couple of friends every week… Eventually I quit because of the stress!!! They would discuss their stress relieving techniques and they had real symptoms: couldn’t breathe while driving, were late for everything because they had to do calming exercises to cope getting their kids out of the house… I just never got it – what is to stress about… yes some days are busier than others and some days are insane but I could never feel the panic about getting things done… I was so in awe because they were so busy and their lives so intense. Turns out we were doing the same things as them just very different styles!!! I have found when I panic the whole show falls apart really quickly and slow and steady does win the race. In fact when I panic and get in a tizz about getting somewhere it takes just as long to get ready as when I just do it on the chill!!! Do I get stressed ? – Oh yes. Does it help? – never!!! Just knowing that helps!!!
    se7en´s latest post: Se7en Tandem Nursing Questions… Asked and Answered…

  7. Thanks for the great reminder. My word for the year is CHOOSE for this very reason…but I forget when I’m in the thick of things. This is a great, supporting reminder.

  8. Great reminder! I always tell younger moms just to make sure that the stress is truly from things they can’t control (others, etc.) and not from things that could have been avoided through better planning, going to bed earlier :), less time on the phone or computer. More stress is self-induced than we’d like to admit. However, some of it is truly out of our control. Either way, you’re absolutely right – Our response is always within our control.
    Debbie @ Cheaper by the Bakers Dozen´s latest post: Boys- Foolishness- and Forgiveness

    • Ain’t that the truth! Well said and a very good reminder as I just ignored all the washing that needs folding and the paperwork that needs filing to come and ‘relax’ on the computer for a little bit…. I am off to tackle them right now!
      Catherine´s latest post: No news is good news

    • I really like this a lot. I used to travel full-time for work and I was always shocked (and eventually, ennoyed) that my friends who were home every night were always too busy, too stressed, too everything. I quickly realized that my demanding travel and work schedule really required that I be an excellent planner and very organized. This made a huge difference in how I spent my time compared to others. Layovers, waiting for flights, sitting in cabs to/from airports, etc. became my time each week to return phone calls, check in on family members, or just call to say hi. I learned to plan meals like a pro because my food and ingredients would be moldy by the time I got home/returned to my hotel room. The list goes on and on but the point is that I learned very early in my adult life that I had to be organized and have a plan (with a healthy dose of flexibility!) if I was going to be remotely sane.

      The skills I learned during that time in my life have continued to serve me extremely well as a wife, mom, and employee.

    • I agree that it is a mix of chosen and “unchosen” factors. Things like the sheer number of options of things to buy can cause me stress. I started reading the book, Margin, by Richard Swenson, this summer and realized how stressful my modern surroundings can be. Thanks, Tsh and Debbie, for the added encouragement to choose well.
      Julia´s latest post: Menu Plan for the Week of 8-8- While the Husbands Away

  9. Ooo. Good post. And I like your comparison with anger and stress. I think you’ve lowered my stress level for the day, or rather, I’ve made the choice to be less stressed today!:)
    minnesota:madre | Sarah Jane´s latest post: random thursday

  10. With my husband’s very recent job loss, I am feeling the stress.. Nausea, bursting into tears, lack of appetite. My mother reminds me that how I react to this in front of the family effects them, so I am trying to take on a more spiritual approach that maybe this will be a blessing in the will be a challenge but we can get through this.

  11. Ah, stress. My intimate friend. I often feel my stress is like the monster my son believes is hiding in his closer at night- a big, scary thing that will sneak up on me at any moment. But your post is a beautiful reminder that situations don’t control us, we control situations. It may take some stress and lack of control at the outset, but if we can get to a place where we can remember that we get to choose our reactions to the factors being flung at us, we’re better off.
    I have started taking a weekly yoga class because it reminds me of this very thing (doctor’s suggestion for stress relief. Ha.) Every week we’re reminded all we need to get through a situation is our breath. Breathe, stay focused and you can handle whatever comes your way. Then I go home and eventually freak out over something, so it’s nice to be reminded that 1) I’m not alone in my stress struggle and 2) that stress IS a choice and I should keep your words of wisdom in mind. So, thanks.

  12. I totally agree. I’ve had quite a stressful year as well but my husband seems to be able to take a step back and breathe. Even though he may feel stressed, he doesn’t treat those around him as though he’s stressed… it’s interesting and quite hard to accomplish as well. Good luck in learning how to relax again!

  13. I know that since deciding that stress was not going to be my life was defined by, my stress level was lowered x1000! I work on a very daily basis to decrease my stressors and manage my reactions as well as I can …I dont know if I have ever really thought of it as a choice, but it certainly is! Great article, and I would love for you to visit my blog..I may well quote on you on it! :)

  14. This is something I have been struggling with lately. I have to keep reminding myself to take a deep breath and relax, things will work out and no one benefits from a stressed out mom.
    Buffie´s latest post: An Early Arrival

  15. What a great post. Half way through I started thinking that chosen stress seems accurate since I always say that anger is a choice.
    Then you went and hit that nail on the head as well!
    It is the baby and my husband who tempt me towards stress. I Work at home two days a week and consider myself a stay at home mom the rest of the time. This means that my husband will often do things drastically different or illogically around the house- drives my stress level up very high. Coming off a fast paced and high powered job to be home means that my house has become my castle. I will keep this idea of chosen stress with me as I deal with the smaller things that I need to let go!

  16. We are in the midst of a move to an unknown location, possibly international, with information coming very slowly. Meanwhile I am 27 weeks pregnant, worried about where I will be giving birth, transporting our dogs overseas again, etc. This post realy resonated with me, thanks for posting it.

  17. Great article!! I have been reading lots of great literature on this very subject. Truth is the easy route to take is to choose to be stressed. But as you said, what good does it do us? We can make our lives a veritable hell if we choose to worry about things that are out of control. We must choose to live peacefully and stress-free or life loses all of it’s joy. Thanks again!

  18. avatar
    Christine says:

    Thank you. I read this as I sit on hold trying to find a specific p[air of Khaki’s my husband needs to wear for a wedding tomorrow (we already wasted an afternoon shopping with the kids and bought the wrong pair) and I’ve relegated my 2 year old to watching tv, my baby is overtired from deciding to cry all night, the weather has turned sour ruining our swim lesson plans and the option for taking the kids to the outdoor wedding that was scheduled without a backup venue and my husband can’t call about his own pants because he’s busy working overtime.

  19. avatar
    Christine says:

    Oops, I’m so frazzled I just submitted my comment before I finished. That whole thing was all to say thank you for the reminder that those things are all external and I get to choose my response. I’m going to try to change my attitude about this weekend.

  20. When I have to choose between work priorities and tasks over investing time in meaningful friendships. That really makes me stressed!

  21. This really was what I needed to read, I made the decision today to nurture myself more and this helps. I have not really explored my stress as a choice it is easier to believe it is my right because things stink! But really I have chosen to stress and be oh so angry because things aren’t turning out the way they were “supposed to”. I am trying to accept that my life is exactly how I made it and if I don’t like it change it for the better. Thank you.

  22. Yes! I do this too, and definitely needed the reminder. The last year has been rough for me and my family as well-3 miscarriages (including one ruptured ectopic), my son getting a feeding tube, and job uncertainty. Not to mention daily life with a very active almost 3 year old! Stress has been such a HUGE part of my life over the last year. Stress and worry. But you’re right: stress is how we choose to respond. I need to do lots more work on choosing level-headedness. Me being stressed out certainly does help anybody, especially me, but I know it affects how I interact with my family too.
    Cara´s latest post: Rainbow Sun-catchers

  23. Thank you for so many wonderful posts. I am really enjoying your site, and love sharing it with my online and real-world friends.
    I agree that stress is a choice–or at least, the way we handle it is. I think stress is a physical and mental marker that it is time to take action. I often feel the most stress when I am being reminded–consciously or unconcsiously–that there is something I need to address (my kids, finances, disorganization, etc). The answers aren’t always easy or obvious, but I find that, once I breath and take a good look at my stressers, there is a source and a solution to be found.
    alex/hello bluebird´s latest post: Enough is enough!

  24. I have the hardest time with child-induced stress. I expect my son to walk into any situation like he’s Cary Grant or something. “Hello, Mother. Might I have some more milk in my sippy cup?” He’s two. He’s going to act like a two year old. I get so stressed when he’s acting up, and everyone around me is saying, “Oh, he’s just a baby. That’s what babies do.” As I’m trying to wrangle him, my head is screaming, “Not my baby! My baby doesn’t act like that!” But he does. And he will. And I have to chalk it up to the fact that he’s a kid. Doesn’t make it easier, but at the end of the day, it’s the truth.
    Rachel´s latest post: Fear and Trembling sans Kierkegaard

  25. Yes indeed, it’s all about choice! This is what I posted today on my Facebook Fan Page:

    At every moment in our lives we are at choice. We choose our thoughts, our reactions, and our heartfelt actions. Recognizing this takes us from the place of victim to the empowered women we really are.

    Then I posted a link to the video on YouTube of India Arie singing “I Choose”. It’s awesome. Find it and listen to it for a heartfelt reminder of what Tsh is talking about!
    amy´s latest post: How to Peel Moms Off the Ceiling

  26. I have been trying very hard lately to remind myself to be present. And when I feel like my kids are driving me crazy I stop and tell myself that they aren’t trying to drive me nuts and their not trying “to be bad”. They’re kids, and my reactions to them set the course. If I let myself get stressed out then nothing positive happens, but if I calm down and talk to them we can really get somewhere, and everyone is better for it.
    Meg @ Nifty Thrifty Life´s latest post: Black Bean Burgers

  27. A great reminder! Thanks! I’ll have to say, I’m better at making this choice than I have ever been.
    Robin´s latest post: Friday Finals 8-6

  28. Being late for anything makes me feel stressed. I took a step back this week and realized that I am in this state of “lateness” all the time. Not that I’m really late, because that actually doesn’t happen often, but i’m always rushing and stressing and rushing the kids from place to place even if i have plenty of time. So this week I’ve made a conscious effort to say to myself, “I have plenty of time”. And even if I don’t I say “I’ll get there when I need to be”. Letting things be and understanding that you always control your reaction to life events is a great spiritual practice and one that helps me keep my blood pressure in check! Thanks for posting this Tsh.
    Keya´s latest post: A Closer Look At Healthy Fats

  29. Oh Tsh, you hit home. Life is happening here too including an upcoming move this month. I’ve choosen stress much too often lately. Thank you for the reminder that it’s my choice. It’s my choice to choose calm over stress. I’m setting the stage for my kiddos-the way I handle situations is the way they will too.

  30. Tsh, I am honored that you would quote my QBQ! book. So kind! Yes, many things happen to us all, but how we respond is critical. The “world” does not create my stress – I do! Karen and I have 7 children so we do understand the comments from your readers – we truly do! John G. Miller,,

  31. Our own family is under a fair amount of stress right now and this was a great reminder. Thanks! Very, very timely.

  32. Amen Sister. I need to read this everyday…more like every 5 minuies. I am going to put on my mirror “you don’t have to choose stress”

  33. There are situations that can bring great stress and you can’t necessarily control the situation, but God can give us the peace that passes all understanding to get through the situation :)
    Becky – Clean Mama´s latest post: DONE! Hang Dress Up Mirror

  34. Great post.

  35. I have been taking the Stress Course for Busy Moms by Lisa Byrne (from the blog The WEll grounded Life.) It has been excellent and so helpful. Tsh, I would highly recommend getting in touch with Lisa and listening to the series. You would find it very helpful I think. Before taking the course, I would have totally agreed with you. And I would have felt like a failure every time I “chose” stress. Now, I feel empowered for the first time in my life to conquer stress and it is actually happening! Not because I am choosing not to stress, but because I am understanding why I shift into a stress response and I am learning ways to prevent that from happening… practical rubber meets the road stuff. Good stuff! Check it out! Here’s a link:

  36. I’ve been reading a book about communication and I realized that so many of the words I use to describe my own feelings are actually my interpretations of how others are treating me, like “ignored,” “cheated,” “taken for granted.”

    These words are actually choices I make to respond to other people’s behaviors.

    I am trying to describe my “feelings” with more appropriate words like “happy,” “sad,” “nervous,” “frightened,” and “anxious.”

    It’s amazing how difficult it is to view our reactions as personal choices.

    Great post!
    Just Plain Joy´s latest post: Plastic bag storage solution found!

  37. This reminds me of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. We can alway choose our response to the things that are happening around us. You cannot control your environment but you can control how to react to it. This is what Stephen Covey calls “Proactive” in contrast to the negative reactive.

    Marlon´s latest post: How To Effectively Manage Your To-Do List

  38. Tsh,

    What a timely article. I appreciate your position on experiencing stress because at the end of the day, whether we’ve been in an out of control stress response or have regained calm and peace– that is absolutely in our control. It’s one of the things I shared in my Stress Cure course– taking an internal locus of control, vs an external locus of control.

    That said, I also know there are so many other factors– how we feed ourselves, the patterns our thoughts have gotten into in terms of responding to our lives, our biochemistry, nervous and hormonal systems…they all contribute greatly to whether we internalize stress or bypass it.

    I’ve found with myself (and with so many others I’ve worked with) when we’ve let our bodies get to a point that chronic stress is “normal” sometimes just trying to “choose” not to be stressed is ineffective, overwhelming and defeating. Not because it isn’t ultimately in our control, but because the cards are stacked so high against us.

    So one of the things I try to work on with people is to give them a whole set of concrete tools and strategies for bolstering their resiliency to stress, ways to recognize it and deflect it, and then practical ways to turn on the calm response.

    Same underlying point you make— Want to not be stressed? It is something YOU must choose and do, but with more tools to get you there successfully :)

    Thanks for the fantastic post and bringing up this great topic!
    Lisa @ WellGrounded Life´s latest post: How to Get the Whole Family on the Same Plate

    • Thanks for showing up and making these comments… so helpful! =)

    • Yes, very well said, Lisa! I can totally see how physical choices can further build up a stressful environment, such as a less-than-healthy diet and not getting enough sleep. I’m sure the case is the same with some of the other points you make here as well. No mater what steps we need to take to eliminate stress, those steps can become the choices we make to counteract the choice of stress.

  39. Other people messing with my schedule stresses me out. I like to start each day with a plan, and if something jumps in to mess it up – I start to get all jittery and if it happens too much, I blow a fuse.

    It could be my kids needing extra help and attention, an unexpected phone call, a huge unplanned mess…anything that takes my eye off the prize of accomplishing the predetermined to-do list.

    I have to make a conscious effort to not get annoyed because that leads to stress which leads to me turning into crazy, mean mommy.
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  40. This was a great post. I have to keep this in mind. I too seem to let the little things stress me out, but when it comes to the big emergency I tnend to keep my cool.
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  41. Tsh, great article. I wish I would have learned about stress at an earlier age. But finally in the last 5-8 years I learned to listen to my body. And to stop and evaluate why I was feeling the way I was. I think the answer to stress (controlled stress) is balance. For me, with 3 kids (now teens) and a very active household, the balance of sleep, inspirational time, exercise, healthy diet, prioritizing marriage are essential. But it took me years to figure it all out. Your site is the best. I love the way you help so many people.
    Sandy´s latest post: Keep it Simple- Sister- But my Sofa is Ripped!

  42. Great article. I have to catch myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Do I really need to get that blog post up tomorrow or can it wait one more day? I try to catch those automatic thoughts that pop in my head and challenge them so the outcome is different. It seems to work most of the time!
    Maryann @ Raise Healthy Eaters´s latest post: 8 of the Best Yogurts for Kids

  43. Single motherhood is definately my main stressor. But then I realize that I just have to deal with it because there’s no one here that’s going to help me out.
    LaToya´s latest post: Brotherhood

  44. Balancing family, managing a home and business can be stressful sometimes. I find getting up at least an hour or so before everyone wakes up allows me to get some quiet “me time” to ease into the day helps a lot.

  45. What a great post! I just had a similar conversation with my husband about how I should be dealing with the sometimes overwhelming stress in my life. And this is a really useful way to look at it – especially for someone like me who needs to feel in control all the time. If I think about stress as something that I can control and that I have a choice about, then maybe I can actually reduce it! It’s amazing how much stress can affect everything from your health to the way you interact with your family. I frequently feel like I’m not being a very good parent to my son because I feel so on-edge so often.

  46. I’m not sure if I agree that anger is a choice – anger is an emotion and I don’t think we have a lot of control over our emotions, though we can certainly choose to reframe our emotions and we definitely choose how we behave. However, I do think that to some degree stress is a choice, since it is often the result of a mismatch between what we want and what we have. Okay – losing a job, being away from loved ones, gun to the head, those are clearly stressful situations – but for everyday stress we can choose to get upset about things or we can choose to accept what is and move on. My mantra – especially since I had kids and had much less energy to spend sweating the small stuff – is always “Nothing I can do about it but move on.” Sounds trite, but I’ve found that it really helps!
    Kelly @ Ahimsa Mama´s latest post: Time to Move the Paints!

  47. Sorry to hear that it has been a stressful year for you. Good post as it’s true, that stress IS a choice. I find the key is doing less as doing too much tends to be my biggest contributor to stress.

    The good news is, the older I get, the better I get at doing less, delegating and saying no. All of these things contribute to less stress for me and allows me to have more time for myself. When things are stressful, we need to take more time in nature and relaxing. Works for me. ;)
    soultravelers3´s latest post: Camping Europe With Kids Free Kids Clubs

  48. In the last three weeks I’ve been going non-stop between single parenting, working full time, 7 days of traveling for work including a week that involved 73 work hours, and now I’m in the middle of moving. My best friend had a baby this week that has some major health issues. I know I’m stressed when I want to burst out crying at the simplest and smallest of things. That has been me this week. I am very aware of it and you are right, I try to talk myself OUT of it, but there are times my body physically reacts and it’s difficult to ignore.

    • I have a wiser, older friend who, when I’m in the midst of a particularly difficult week or month, will ask me, “What are you eating? Are you sleeping?” And then if I’m honest, she’ll usually remind to do the obvious, which is eat right and sleep. And it helps a ton.

      Take care of yourself, friend… Thinking of you lots. :)

  49. Good post. I know you are right but it’s always hard for me to escape from the stress. I’m trying to learn not to pay attention to the little annoying thing and not to do a lot of work. I hope I’ll get good results from my effort. I’ve heard for different ways for doing this including the energy chi :)

  50. Thank you!! Simply thinking that stress is a choice gives me so much freedom. I will try to remind this every time I become obsessed because the house is a mess and everything is out of control. I know it won’t be easy, but I like your perspective.
    Lola´s latest post: Pequeño azul y pequeño amarillo

  51. I think recognizing the stressors in our life is also a huge step. We’re not getting enough sleep, and as a result, my stress response gets triggered by unnecessarily small things. I allow myself to get worked up about the things my 3 year old is doing (whining, dawdling, protesting, ignoring, etc), when really, it’s not that big of a deal if it takes a few more minutes to get dressed, clean-up, etc. If I was well rested, these things wouldn’t bother me, so I just need to practice counting to 10 (or even 3!) instead of allowing that stress response to take over.
    Alissa´s latest post: Lagging

  52. Thank you for what you shared – these are some of the things I have been struggling with making adjustments on this summer. I am planning on writing something about stress and choices and choosing joy on my blog in the next few days. I would love your permission to quote you (and site you of course), if that is OK. Please let me know. Thanks.
    Joyagg´s latest post: 2 Days of music- friends and fun

  53. Thanks a lot for sharing. You have done a brilliant job. Your article is truly relevant to my study at this moment, and I am really happy I discovered your website.

  54. Based on my experience as an Alzheimer’s caregiver for my mother and for my husband, I totally disagree.

  55. avatar
    jan wilson says:

    Triple digit temps while being largely pregnant and tired all the time along with raising a two year old who is testing her boundaries right and left tempts me to be stressed. My dr says it’s all hormones when asked if uncontrollable crying was normal. So if pregnancy hormones are to blame, is it then a choice? ;)

  56. Just wanted to clarify… I don’t imply that if you have stress in your life, it’s your fault or that you chose it. By no means. Life is full of stressful situations, and enduring them doesn’t make anybody a bad person. It makes them a normal person. :)

    All I’m saying in this post is that we can make healthy choices to combat stress in our lives, and that we shouldn’t wait for the stress to go away on its own. No one can magically do those choices for us — it’s up to us to do them. So whether it’s diet, more sleep, correct thinking, clearing our calendars and saying ‘no’ more often, getting more exercise, or finding ways to have more fun… letting stress live and reign in our lives without us doing anything about it is a choice, because we are the best ones who can take care of ourselves (alongside God, our Creator, of course). We can choose to make things better.

  57. Fantastic insights and so true, so much in life is a choice, it’s what I tell my clients all the time and you wouldn’t believe how many people are initially invested in being powerless. Invested in being a victim of their circumstances. Once they begin to take control, however and realize they always have a choice, good, bad or otherwise, amazing things happen. A natural component of this is stress reduction due to the building of confidence that they are in control and can cope with most any situation. Thanks for getting the word out!
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  58. Sure wish I’d seen this the day you wrote it! :) Thank you for this perspective. I am learning (the hard way!) that much of life is how I react to it. I try to remember this everyday (or several times if needed!)

  59. Thanks so much for your post! You’re absolutely right – it IS a choice. We may not choose the trigger, but we do choose our response. Sometimes we all need a little reminder…that we make our own choices.

  60. Yeah, I would agree that we do choose to a huge degree. Often without even being aware of it! I think some proof of that is the fact that situations you may find stressful one day another day you can get through easily – so much has to do with the mind and how you are feeling at any given time.

    The times I think are different are (and I haven’t had time to read through all of the comments now because there are so many) as your last few commenters touched on, when there are medical issues involved. There is a grey area of course….that area between what is normal stress and difficulty and what is considered illness or abnormal – situations where really it’s just too much much for a person to handle.

    There are times obviously where normal stress crosses that line and becomes something else and I don’t think you were talking about that kind of stress. That is the sort where we cannot choose. Once it becomes more complicated a person is not always in control. Sometimes then they need help from a counselor or clinician of some kind.

    But I totally get what you are saying Tsh and I get myself in knots sometimes before I realise I don’t have too! lol

  61. avatar
    charmaine says:

    Its funny i just had a chat to my nearly 17yo son who like me suffers from anxiety and stress…i spoke to him about choices, there is always two choices you could make. I never applied it to choosing to be stressed. I have been struggling alot lately whether to succumb to self pity and misery or keep puttin on that happy face and keep marching along with my head held high. I have had some medical issues too and im beginning to think im trying to use them as an excuse,….hmmmm stop that…i dont want to be miserable so i guess its head up and keep marching.
    Thankyou it is nice to know we arent the only ones who cant always cope and i shall keep in mind, however hard somedays that there always is a choice to be made.

  62. avatar
    charmaine says:

    I just made a post about the conversation i had with my nearly 17yo son today about choices and that there are choices to be made about anything and everything. I never touched on that you could control stress. He and i are both anxious people and at times this in itself can be very hard to deal with…just ask my hubby and daughter when we are both having meltdowns. Im going to show him this post. Thankyou. I also agree with alot of how your commenters feel from feeling like needing to be in control through to just trying to let go…my motto when i try to implement it is,,,,,suck it up princess and try to keep putting one foot in front of the other each day. Some days it is so hard to just pretend but im trying:) I have bookmarked your blog and shall return.

  63. This is such a wonderful article! I just linked to it on my organization blog. As a busy mom of four, I’d like to believe otherwise, but really I do know that stress is a choice. It is actually a empowering feeling to know that while we can’t always controls what happens to us, we can control how we react. Thanks!

  64. This was a perfect read to start my morning… It seems so simple but eye opening at the same time. Thank you!
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  65. avatar
    leslie borody says:

    i am a very sensitive person and i pick up others emotions and stressors very easily.. to a point where i am unsure if it is my own or theirs .. and since having a baby and now a toddler i find it is this way with him.. he (other than my spouse) is the closest to me and i am with him almost 24hours a day.. so i pick up all his stressors and anxieties and find myself yelling in return… the second he is loud, i am loud. and in the moment i really can’t think my head is a blur and i have no idea what is going on or how to control myself.. i would really appreciate any thoughts or ideas from all you moms out there how i can get out of this? i feel like its very hard to balance either i am yelling or completely ignoring my son with headphones in my ears…. it would be great to hear any other options that i don’t have to block him out. oh yeah one other thing i tend to rely on is the tv. we don’t have cable, but a dvd can be playing for almost 2 hours or more just so i can have a chance to collect myself again.

  66. I don`t think that the stress is a choice, because sooner or later everybody feel it. It`s not an option, it`s the reality today.

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