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How to Stop Stress in Its Tracks

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

Even though I’m a Stress Management Expert (and Battle Tested Warrior Queen), that doesn’t mean that I don’t get stressed out from time to time. The two worst times for me are shopping in WalMart (with all the people who don’t understand the unspoken rules of Shopping Etiquette); and driving here on Long Island, in all the traffic.

So rather than get snarky and bitchy (my go-to stress responses), I developed a tool to handle those inevitable times when I’m having a crappy day.

They’re called The Power Questions, because they give you back your power, instead of getting buffeted and tossed by the Ribbons of Chaos we all experience.

When you get in a situation that’s stressing you out, use these to refocus and release the steam valve before you blow up. I usually don’t get past the first two before I feel in control again.

The Power Questions

  • How important is this, really? (If it is important, then, How important is this, right now?) Will you remember this in 5 months? In a year? Will it affect the weather on Jupiter? Will it change the direction of your life? Or are you making a mountain out of a molehill?

  • What is something positive and constructive I can do about this? What can you do right now to fix this situation? What could you do later to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Make a plan, be solution oriented and positive with your response, and then put the whole thing on a back burner if you need to.

  • What would my hero do in this situation? Who is your hero, and what would they do right now? You can also ask yourself, “What kind of person do I want to be, and how would that person behave?” Would a kind person be nasty to a stranger? Would a person who sets healthy boundaries allow someone to take advantage of them? Even if you don’t feel that way, you can imagine yourself trying on how you want to feel - like training wheels.

  • How do I want to feel at the end of the day? Do you want to be angry, or pleased that you had self control? Do you want to feel sad, or happy that you knew something you wanted isn’t really that important in the grand scheme of things? Do you want to feel proud that you took the high road and didn’t get into an argument? Do you want to ruin the rest of your day, or use this event as a springboard to feel peaceful?

  • What emotion(s) am I feeling? It’s important to understand what we’re feeling, and why we’re feeling it. Are you angry that someone cut you off in traffic? Are you irritated that your boss is being a jerk? Are you disappointed that you didn’t get what you came for in a store? Are you angry because you had a fight with a friend, or disappointed that you didn’t get a promotion?

  • What is something positive that came out of this? What is something for which you can find gratitude? What did you learn? Many times, negative events give birth to something even better than you had hoped for. If you’re still alive, walking, talking, then you have something to be grateful for.

If you’d like to learn even more ways to stop stress in its tracks, take my free class called, “Emotional First Aid Kit: How to Get Through Tough Days in One Piece.” You’ll learn how to STOP feeling overwhelmed & paralyzed, and START taking care of things that need doing.

Grab yours here:

Susan Petang is a Certified Stress Management Coach, member of the National Association of Divorce Professionals, and author of two books on managing stress. You can learn more about her and her programs here:


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