Strategy for Stress, the A-Z of solutions


Written by my dear friend author, poet and marketing genius Reg Starkey – someone who has learnt the hard way how to overcome these problems.


Stress is a huge problem, personally and commercially.

In money (!) terms, current estimates suggest that Stress costs UK business anything between £3 Billion and £6 Billion every year. Another source puts the UK figure at £105.2 Billion, which sounds more realistic. The USA estimates the cost to their economy of between $200 Billion and $300 Billion p.a.

In Europe, there are high profile examples of stress-related tragedy.

In 2013, the CEO of Swisscom committed suicide, after transforming the enterprise over seven years into Switzerland’s biggest telecoms company. Earlier, after the breakup of his marriage, he became pathologically addicted to his Smart phone. Addiction of any kind is a common but ultimately unsatisfactory strategy for stress.

Also in 2013, Alex Calderwood died aged 47 on a combination of alcohol and drugs. He was the founder of the hugely successful hip hotel chain Ace.

In Germany, Adolf Merckle threw himself under a train after risking his business with a disastrous share bet against Volkswagen. His empire employed over 100,000 people and generated revenues of 30 billion euros.  At the time of his death, he was one of Germany’s richest men.

In San Francisco, Roy Raymond, the founder of Victoria’s Secret, jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.

He had sold the business he’d built and invested the proceeds in a venture which failed. First he lost his business, then he lost his marriage, then he took his life. It’s a common stress-related pattern.

The Victorian writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton made this comment on Stress, before the medics had even properly identified it:

“Its wear and tear on the heart are never recompensed.”



Pioneered by Johannes Heinrich Schulz between the Wars, Autogenics is a practice of mindfulness of your body, limb by limb. When Stressed while driving, for example, Schulz recommends the mantra “My neck and shoulders are heavy”.

Autogenics is freely available online, easy to follow and effective for most people who give it a fair chance.

B is for Balance

Balance is about keeping things in their proper proportion and right-sizing every situation.

Recognising mountains as mountains and molehills as molehills, it’s about “not sweating the small stuff.”

It’s NOT ‘All about Work’ and in truth, only the end of the world is the END of the WORLD!

C is for CLIPS

This useful acronym stands for



Incline your head


Smile and SPEAK

Using CLIPS helps you Respond rather just React.

It’s good to make more use of your PAUSE Button.

D is for Drink and/or Drugs

Neither is a good response to Stress, however widely used as anaesthetics.

Alcohol is a dangerous depressant. All Drugs, even prescribed drugs, have side-effects.

There are much healthier and cheaper ways to deal with Stress.

E is for Exercise

Running is good.

Walking is better.

Cycling and dancing are definitely OK.

Remember to exercise your mind as well as your body. Walking meditation is recommended.

Also recommended: reading, listening to music, going to the movies or the theatre

Debate and discussion

Engaging with life

F is for Food

Diet is important. “We are what we eat.”

Comfort-eating is a self-destructive response to Stress.

Psychic hunger is hard to satisfy.

“When it stops hurting, I’ll stop eating” does not make sense as a statement from one adult to another.

G is for Gambling

You can lose yourself in Gambling. It’s a potent diversion.

“How do you make a small fortune gambling? Start with a large one!”

It isn’t “only money.” It’s dynamite.

Problem-gambling is always selfish, never profitable and always self-defeating.

H is for Happiness

Cynics say Happiness isn’t something you experience, it’s something you remember.

It is certainly elusive, yet throughout the ages Philosophers have advised us not to chase it.

Stress separates you from any chance of feeling happy – that is why Stress itself is so unhealthy.

“The number one root of all illness is Stress.” Marianne Williamson.

I is for “I like Me”

If you hate yourself, you cannot love anyone else.

If you dislike yourself, you can become unlikeable.

Check out the Californian Carl Banyan and his recommended Recognitions.

They could enrich your life.


J is for JFDI

JFDI stands for “Just ‘fecking’ do it” and should be intoned with an Irish accent in honour of its originator and to take the curse off the swear word.

In dealing with Stress, managing your thoughts is vitally important. But taking positive action is essential.

K is “Keep your ‘I love yous’ up to date”

Stress can corrode close relationships or even kill them altogether.

In the end, your relationships are more valuable than any Bonus.

“It’s not the Stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” Hans Selye

L is Love

As Paul McCartney put it “Love is all you need”

Perhaps this sounds too swoon/moon/June, Mills & Boone for your taste?

That doesn’t mean it’s not true. Potentially, love really is the answer to everything.

Try working on the basis that ‘it’s better to be kind than to be right’ and ‘when in doubt, do the loving thing’ and watch how your day-to-day relationships improve, in the office and at home.

M is for Money

People misquote when they say ‘Money is the root of all evil.”

In fact, the saying suggests that “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

Be that as it may, empirical evidence indicates that Workaholism and Shopaholism are the only two socially acceptable compulsions. Each is based on an unhealthy expectation of what Money can do to make you feel better.

In the long run, each multiplies Stress rather than modifies it.

N is for Neuroscience

You are not an automaton. You are not programmed to behave in the same way forever.

You can change. You can rewire your Neural pathways. All it takes is practice!

This is the key message from Ruby Wax’s recent book ‘Sane new world’.

Whatever you think of Ruby Wax, her conclusion is correct.

O is for “Open your Mind to Possibilities!”

“The greatest single bar to all useful information is contempt prior to investigation.”

Herbert Spencer

Try working your life on the ‘possibility of everything’ and the ‘probability of nothing’ for a while.

P is for Perfectionism

Stress distorts your perception of everything. Try accepting “the ordinarily good enough”.

This is not about lowering your standards, it’s about being realistic in your expectations of yourself and others.

Q is for Quiet time

Every day try making time for Quiet time – for reflection, for meditation.

Silence is therapeutic, in itself and of itself. Try to quieten your mind and notice the benefits.

R is for ROPATE

This acronym stands for Restraint Of Pen And Tongue and Email

You cannot take back a single you speak, or a single word you write.

And always remember, if it’s online, it’s on the record. (Ask Sally Bercow!)

Never, ever write tougher than you’d speak.

Wherever possible, press Save before you press Send.

Never, ever send an Email when your Stress has made you angry.

S is for Sex

Casual Sex is not a satisfactory solution to Stress.

In the cold light of dawn, as with alcohol or other drugs, it is more likely to make you feel worse rather than better.

Pornography is not harmless.

Prostitution is not a victimless crime.

T is for Thoughts

You are NOT responsible for your first Thoughts. You are responsible for your actions.

You can put your Thought-life on a much higher plane if your thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

“Our greatest weapon against Stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” William Jane.

U is for Universe

Like it or lump it, the Laws of the Universe apply to you – even if you do not acknowledge them.

On the evidence of your eyes, the Earth is flat and the Sun goes round the Earth. The truth is otherwise.

Likewise, there are Laws of the Universe relating to spiritual Abundance that you might do well to acknowledge.

“Stress is the most important dragon to slay – or at least tame – in your life.” Marilyn Henner

V is for Visualisation

“What the mind can conceive – and believe – it can achieve.”

Try visualising your ideal life and start affirming it. Visualisation improves the possibility of Manifestation by clarifying your mind and sharpening your focus.

W is for Work

Work is second only to Love in its ability to make you whole.

Stress destroys job satisfaction. Fear can make daily life a misery.

“It’s not the hours you put in, it’s what you put into the hours that matters.”

Workaholism will destroy the quality of your life as surely as either Alcoholism or Drug addiction or Sex & Love addiction.

X is for X Certificate Behaviour

Please avoid all secret X Certificate behaviour in the relief of Stress.

The truth is we are all as sick as our secrets.

Y is for You

You now have all you need to deal with your Stress and make the most of your life.

“I can say “Reduce your Stress Level!” until I am blue in the face.”

Only you can make it happen.

And it will only happen, if you want it to happen and take the recommended steps.

Z is for Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Disrupted sleep patterns are early evidence of anxiety and Stress.

“Stress is the common cold of the psyche.”

Peaceful sleep and pleasant dreams will tell you are definitely on top of it.

29. 04. 2015    Reg Starkey@Reg Starkey on Twitter.


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