9 Steps to Transform Stress into Strength

If you’ve noticed I didn’t write much the previous week, it’s because work has been crazy and I’ve been under a lot of stress.

I’m sure you’ve been there too, haven’t you?

So how do we thrive in the midst of stress? How do we transform stress into strength so that when the going gets tough, the tough get going?

While there are many methods to do so, this is a modified NLP visualization technique I used during the last week to keep me going through a couple of 20 hour workdays (and a crazy week).

9 Steps to Transform Stress into Strength

1) Where do you feel the stress in your body?

Take a moment and notice where you feel the stress most in your body. Is it in your head, shoulders, chest, stomach, arms, or legs? I felt mine most in my heart region.

2) What does the stress feel like?

Notice what it feels like. Is it heavy or light? What’s the texture like, rubbery or leathery, hard or soft, smooth or rough? Mine was very dense, hard and heavy.

3) Pluck the stress out using your hands

Without this key, most NLP techniques don’t work: using your body is vital. Use your hands to imagine physically taking the stress out from you and hold it in your hands.

4) What does the stress look, sound and feel like?

Now that it’s in your hands, notice what it looks like. What color is it? Does it make any sound? Use your hands to move around the shape, what does it feel like in your hands? Explore the stress feeling in your hands, and get curious about its details like it’s a real object.

Mine was a hard-edged box, black and heavy.

5) What does the stress say?

If there was a belief or a sentence associated with the stress, what would it be? Mine was saying; ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this’ in a weary tone again and again.

6) Shift the colors, shape and sound around.

Using your hands, imagine yourself sculpting and changing the surface of the stress. Some people find it easier to change the colors first, some the sound, and some the texture. Imagine what the colors, sounds and feel of a neutral feeling would be like.

For me, I changed the color of my stress from black to a milky white, from being heavy to feeling lighter, softening the edges of the box to a roundish shape, without any sounds.

7) Change the colors, shape and sound to a powerful, empowering emotion.

What’s an alternative, empowering feeling you’d rather be feeling instead of stress? In my case I had to overcome challenges at work, so I chose to make mine strength. To me, red is the color of power and boldness, so I started to change the color of the stress from a neutral milky white to bright red.

Feeling light doesn’t make me feel powerful, so I made the shape of it denser, and I started to spin it. The more dramatic you can make it, the more impactful this exercise will be, so I made it bigger, brighter, with firetrails bursting out of the circle shape.

You should be feeling pretty differently by now! If not, make the empowering shape bigger, brighter, louder, up and up the intensity of it!

8) Slam it back into where you plucked it out from!

Take the new empowering shape/emotion and slam it right back from where you first plucked it out from, fast, and notice how differently you feel as it permeates your entire body. Then make a strong gesture with your body, make a fist, raise your hands, jump up and down, do anything that you feel is associated with this new feeling.

When my new spinning ball of fire entered my chest, I felt awash with strength as I imagined it rushing all over my body, and I breathed in and out deep as I clenched both my fists hard.

9) Say the new belief!

Now that your stress has been transformed into strength, notice the new belief or phrase that comes with this strength. From ‘I can’t do this’, the new phrase that came to me was ‘I’m stronger than this.’ This new phrase shall be your mantra for the day, that you’ll repeat to yourself whenever you need to transform stress into strength.

What You Need To Know About Stress

Your unconscious mind is a pretty smart thing, and there’s always a positive intention behind the feelings it’s sending you, even stress. There are either 2 major reasons why you feel stressed; either the environment or behaviour within that environment doesn’t support you or your ability to handle stress is low.

While this technique helps you to increase your ability to handle stress, if your environment or behaviour doesn’t support you long-term and you’re not changing it, the stress is going to come back.

Even though this technique worked for me in the short-term, I knew that I still had to make changes around my working environment or I would be the worst off in the long-term.

10) Bonus Step: Play with the company cat

I just did and it works great to relieve stress too :)

9 Responses to “Fast and Effective Ways for Coping with Stress”

  1. Julie Melillo
    November 9 2008 at 5:50 am #

    I really enjoyed this post. It’s easy to forget how powerful our physical reactions are! I like your approach here. Especially reminding the reader that we are not always ready for change — though we think we are! I agree that the real failure is letting fear stop us. Thanks for posting this!

  2. karen parsons
    November 9 2008 at 6:46 pm #

    Hi Julie,

    Thank you for your kind words. I am glad it was helpful! “Coping with Stress” is a part of a series of articles on Stress that I have written, hopefully Life Coaches Blog will be posting the rest. So keep in touch!

    Kindest regards,


  3. Jill R.
    November 10 2008 at 6:55 am #

    This is a great article. I especially like the list of symptoms… some of which a lot of people may not recognize as a sign of stress.

    It’s also important to continue with your stress managment activities even when there are no signs or symptoms of stress. Doing this will help you become stressed less often and ward off stress before it even begins.

  4. karen parsons
    November 10 2008 at 5:48 pm #

    Hi Jill,

    Absolutely, it should be a way of life! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Kindest regards,


  5. yvonne
    July 1 2009 at 10:36 pm #

    Great site!!!!! Good health is very important with the high cost of medical coverage. We need to have a healther lifestyle by taking care of our health eating and exercising. I am a cancer survivor and I know. Our health is our greatest asset. Keep up the Good Work!!!!!

  6. Rev. Dr. Bush
    January 16 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    The physical body does not differentiate between happy stress and overwhelm. Stress is stress. We need to develop coping mechanisms in our daily life to avoid the harmful, physiological effects of stress.


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