Some Thoughts on Dealing with Stress

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At 10 am on Tueasday the 19th of September the small circle is St Thomas USVI. The Storm is Cat 5 Hurricane Maria with 197 miles an hour sustained winds.

As Hurricane Maria bears down upon The  US Virgin Islands and Laurie’s (My Girl’s) daughter Maggie who moved there after college, we are on high alert. The second Cat 5 hurricane to hit the island in two weeks, the islands already devastated and in shambles without power.  With most people on the island without roofs or walls and the vegetation on the island stripped clean, the people on the islands are worn out and exhausted and are having to prepare for another round of destructive winds and torrential amounts of rain.  My heart goes out to the people of the Islands as well as those in Florida still rebuilding.  It is serious. Lives are at stake.


When things get crazy as they do for everybody at some point in their lives, there is a quote that usually sticks out. “Only one person in a relationship should be allowed to go nuts at a time.” Strength and clear-headed thinking are so important  when reacting to events in times of stress and turmoil. During periods of prolonged worry and stress, everyone can start to become exhausted. Having the ability to step back from the cyclical thoughts that form the worry is a great skill to cultivate because who knows, maybe it is your turn to be clear-headed and strong for those around you. It also lessens the overall stress even if there is nothing you can do but watch events unfold.



Having a “Rock” to hold onto during challenging times, that idea or things that you do (besides drinking) that brings you thinking back to the moment at hand, those things you can hold onto in your thoughts that minimize the fright train of worry overtaking all of your reason.  Some turn to prayer, some turn to positive thinking changing negative thoughts into thoughts of hopefulness.  There are many that are naturally able to keep a clear head in stressful situations only reacting to things that they can act upon and have the clarity of mind to keep the noise down.  I have known very few of the latter. Everybody else I have met fall somewhere between completely freaking out and obsessing on negative thoughts, to a good battle between despair, fear, and hopefulness. I have found myself in both. I much prefer being clear headed. So I have introduced a protocol when I become aware of a storm of negative thoughts.



So, many of you reading this have been exposed to the ©New Forest 1-10 Numbers, a mnemonic developed by Sifu Fey. Here they are again.

1 Fun: Relax, feel and imagine smiles moving down.The main idea is to relax.

2 Shoe: Feel your feet.  Establish a connection to the ground. The main idea is to be grounded.

3 Tree: Imagine you are a great big tree with deep roots. The main idea is Nourishment

4 Core: Gather a place of centeredness and weight 3 1/2 inches below your belly button and inward, the image of a fire hydrant. The main idea is to center yourself.

5 Alive: Imagine water or steam shooting out of your hands and feet at tremendous speed. Your arms and legs are fire hoses with water shooting out.  The main idea is when you extend outward you bring more energy inward.

6 Thick: Imagine you are up to your neck in blackstrap molasses, or that you can feel the thick air. The main idea is that you are connected to everything, and everything is connected to you.

7 Heaven: Imagine a light and sensitive pulling upward at the crown of your head. The main Idea here is connecting with your higher aspirations; this could be prayer or a sense of lightness of being.

8 Gate: Imagine energy coming into you from every pore in your body and then settling inward around your bones and muscles.  The main idea here is opening you up to life, as you bring energy inward you gain a deeper connection to what is outside of you.

9 Shine: Imagine you are a bright light shining outward in all directions.  The main idea here is to exude positive mental energy, positive thoughts, to cast light upon the darkness.

10 Spin:  Imagine that each of the nine previous images is plates spinning on sticks and your job is to keep all of them spinning. You touch each lightly and then move to the next. The main idea here is mental alacrity, being able to think on your feet, think creatively.



During times of stress when I find that my mind is starting to go down the rabbit hole of circular thoughts and worry, which depletes reserves of energy, I find a helpful exercise or my “Rock” is to play with the images of 1-10. It is essentially 10 spin. As much as I can remember during the day, I engage in 10 spin. Sometimes all I can do is say the numbers and the keyword over and over, without any imagery, but if I keep at the activity, the images start to fill my body/mind and effect me on an intrinsic level. Within a short time, I find myself more relaxed alert an aware to myself and my surroundings.


Thoughts of worry, come with an air of importance that are difficult to deny, however, if you can keep clear-headed, you can react more effectively, and not wear yourself out in the process. So when you need to be of assistance to another, you can be resolute and clear-headed.  Give it a try. I can tell you that for the next few days maybe even weeks as the welfare of Maggie and others on the islands becomes known I will be running the 1-10 most of the days.


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