Hello and welcome to My name is Melissa Stefanski. I've been that shy kid for as long as I can  remember. During parent-teacher meetings, my teachers would always describe me as "a good student but very quiet and timid." I think to this day, others would describe me as "quiet." It's strange because I never think of myself that way. I guess I don't think I'm quiet because there's a continuous stream of conversation/thoughts/songs/etc. going through my head all day long. I just don't notice that I'm turned inward, not offering up my voice to those around me.

I never liked group activities at school or presentations in front of the class. I still get nervous when I'm called upon at meetings. I'm not usually the first one to speak up. I tend to worry easily and feel the worry throughout my entire body. I remember thinking that stress and anxiety were just a part of my life and that I needed to accept them. I thought maybe my genetic makeup was stacked against me and there was no changing what the genes had dictated.

At some point, I can't really remember when, I decided if I couldn't beat stress maybe I could join it. I decided to learn all I could about stress so I could manage it instead of it managing me! Maybe some people are wired to be more sensitive. Maybe some people have had events in his or her life to encourage wanting to hide away. But, so what? Resigning to feel stressed or anxious is only one option. Another option is to do the best with what you have. That's what I've decided to do for myself.

Stress will never magically disappear, but we can get to know stress. Kind of like keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. I'd call stress a "frienemy." I'm keeping stress close, studying it's every move. I'm learning about my reactions to stressful situations and coping differently now.

Feeling as though I have some control over stress diminishes stress!

After all, stress stems from a perception of something being out of our control.

Am I an expert on stress? I would call myself a lifelong learner of stress. Have I figured out ways of managing stress that work? YES! I encourage you to get to know stress and get to know what helps you manage stress.

If you are willing to work on this, you will feel better. There may not be a particular day when you think, "Yea! I've managed stress." But, one day you'll think, "I'm not sure when this happened, but things just feel better."

As for more boring information about me, I received a Bachelor of Science degree (1996) in Psychology with a minor in Biochemistry from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and a Master of Arts degree (1998) in Counseling Psychology. I am a certified/licensed hypnotherapist through the National Guild of Hypnotists. My experience includes over 20 years of individual and group counseling and behavioral programming.

Over the years, I have worked in various settings including inpatient substance abuse rehabilitation centers, behavioral programming treatment facilities, and mental health counseling centers for individual therapy.

I reside in Fort Myers, FL but have lived in various regions of Canada and the U.S. I have learned, and continue to learn, about stress and stress relief every day. I always appreciate stress relief tips I receive from others. So, I will share whatever stress management knowledge comes my way.

I like experimenting with many different stress relief strategies, depending on the situation and what's happening in my life. The more tools the better! Please visit often as I'm always adding new tips and insights as I learn of them.

Stay in the (k)now,
Melissa Stefanski, BS, MA

P.S. When you subscribe to my ezine, The Know Stress Press, you'll immediately receive my free Stress Management Course!

P.P.S.: The way I see it, you won't feel any worse after using the workbook. Why not give it a try?

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     Your attempt may fail but never fail to make an attempt!

As my friend was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they did not. My friend saw a trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.

“Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” My friend was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

How many of us are being held back by old, outdated beliefs that no longer serve us? How many of us have avoided trying something new because of a limiting belief? Worse, how many of us are being held back by someone else’s limiting beliefs?

Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve!
CHOOSE not to accept the false boundaries and limitations created by the past.