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It’s that time again. New Years Resolutions.  Here is the challenge; thinking about change is not good enough!  For 2010, why not  create resolutions for life, literally. Better, healthier, longer life.  That’s right.  Getting a better handle on stress is at the core of making healthy lifestyle changes.  Here is why and how. 

According to the American psychological Association’s ( [APA 2009]  most recent study, Stress In America, adults reporting the highest stress levels (8, 9 or10 on a 10‐point scale) were less likely to be successful at making positive lifestyle changes when it came to eating a healthier diet, exercising more, losing weight, reducing stress and getting more sleep.   Obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes are all either caused by or made worse by Stress. So, it’s not just a coincidence that we are experiencing epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stress. According to the Inter heart Study, if you live with stress on a day-to-day basis you have more than twice the risk for developing a heart attack. 

And if that were not enough, if the lifestyle changes your doctor recommended are  specifically associated with behaviors or symptoms of stress — such as quitting smoking, getting more sleep or reducing stress overall — you are among those least likely to report success in making lifestyle changes.  

Stress creates psychological & biological chains that make it virtually impossible to make positive lifestyle changes without first dealing with stress.   Not just the acute stressors (disruptions) something unexpected that can occur and ruin your day.  Rather, I invite you to reconsider the chronic stressors (disparities) in your life.  The expected happenings that can ruin your life!  Unfortunately chronic stressors are often relegated to subconscious areas of your mind. You no longer ‘feel’ the pain.  But you overeat, smoke, overuse alcohol, procrastinate,and ‘don’t have time’ to do what you speak to as being most important in your life. 

The solution is a new approach to your New Year’s Resolution. Your first resolution must be to discover Optimal Stress: your personal Best Stress Zone.  Stress is inevitable. But stress doesn't just happen. Its not an event. Its a process. Optimal Stress is the cornerstone for a balanced life. The right amount and the right type of stress for well-being, quality of life,  energy, joy, productivity and successful aging.  

Here are simple steps towards this goal in 2010:

Identify what’s really important to you. Your 3P’s: Priorities, Purpose, Passions.

  1. Take a self inventory. Identify and label chronic and acute stressors associated with your 3P’s.
  2. Consider which stressors are changeable or controllable. Take action accordingly.
  3. Stressors you can’t change or control - and - are  NOT associated with your 3P’s—  Let it Go!
  4. Understand, problem solve and develop a strategic plan that allows you to EMBRACE your Optimal Stress as a part of Living in your Best Stress Zone. 

Learn more:  Optimal Stress: Living in Your BestStress Zone   Carol J. Scott, MD (John Wiley & Sons, 2010) 

Does Your Company need a  ‘House-Call’?  Carol J. Scott, MD, MSEd, FACEP is The Stress Relief Coach for executives and Fortune 100 companies.  She is a keynote speaker, stress management strategist and expert on the connections between stress and health. For information about having Dr. Scott make a ‘house call’ for your corporate or organizational event go to:  and she is available through the Washington Speakers Bureau.