How To Win Against Stress: Creating A Winning Game Plan

by Doc Orman, M.D.

How To Win Against Stress 1

Today, I am publishing the first of a six-part series of blog posts on “How To Win Against Stress.”  During the next two weeks, I’ll be discussing topics such as:

  • How to create a winning game plan (today’s topic)
  • Why it makes sense to think of stress as a game
  • How to adopt a winning mindset
  • How to understand your opponent
  • What you need to do to win the game

Creating A Winning Game Plan

In my next post, I’ll explain why it makes perfect sense to think of stress as a game.  So if we assume this to be true, the next task is to create a winning game plan. 

Fortunately, people have been creating winning game plans for thousands of years. From backgammon (a 5000 year old game), to chess, to Monopoly, to card games, to sports contests—the basic requirements for creating a winning game plan have pretty much been identified:

  1. A Winning Mindset
  2. Know Thy Opponent
  3. Core Principles For Success
  4. Core Strategies For Success
  5. Leadership And Coaching


In order to win the game called stress, you’ve got to have a winning mindset.  Suffice it to say that most people today are not winning their personal battle with stress, and partly this is because they don’t have the right mindset.

Mindset means more than simply having a positive attitude and a strong, confident belief that you can become a winner. First, it means having a clear picture of the goals of the game and how you’ll define and measure winning. It also means having a proper understanding of what stress really is, where it comes from for human beings, and how best to deal with it.  I’ll go into more depth about how to adopt a winning mindset for winning against stress in my next two posts this week.

Know Thy Opponent

In any game or contest, there are opposing agents trying to achieve superiority.  In tennis, for example, your opponent is the individual or doubles team on the opposite side of the net.  In football, baseball, soccer and other team sports, it is the opposing team in different color uniforms.  In chess and backgammon, it is the other human being (or computer) competing against you, and in golf, it is ultimately you against your own physical, mental, and emotional tendencies and the golf course.

Whatever type of game you are playing, if your goal is to win, it is essential that you understand your opponent correctly.  You have to know how your opponent is going to try to defeat you, because these key insights will become the foundation for whatever specific game plan you choose.

So here’s an important question for you—with regard to the game called stress, how well do you understand who or what your opponent really is?  And how well do you know how your opponent is organized to defeat you?

Principles For Success

OK. So you understand the goals of the game (how you define winning), who you are as a player in the game, and who your opponent is and how your opponent is going to try to defeat you.  Now you need some key psychological principles that are going to propel you to become the victor.  You need principles that are aligned with the main realities of the particular game you are playing.  With regard to the game of stress, as with any other game, you’re going to need principles that bring out your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.  This is ultimately part of having a winning mindset, but it is more focused on particular principles that you want to always keep front and center in your mind.

For example, in the game of backgammon, you need to be well versed in mathematical probabilities and the relative likelihood that any particular roll of the dice will occur more often or less often than others.  You also have to know that you can win any game, regardless of whether you are way ahead of or way behind you opponent. And you have to know the most critical things you must attend to in order to win from either position, or for that matter, from when you are running almost even with your opponent.

Strategies For Success

Having good principles for success will usually lead to developing good winning strategies.  Strategies are also dependent upon having the right mindset and understanding your opponent well.  In addition, they often require you to develop specific skill sets in order to execute the strategies correctly, and this usually takes training, practice, and frequent repetition.

Leadership And Coaching

And finally, when you are committed to winning any complex or highly challenging game, including the game called stress, you need to have mentors on your side who can lead you, guide you, coach you, and inspire you reach deep down within yourself and bring out your full potential.  In this sense, preparing yourself to win the game called stress is really no different than preparing yourself to win the World Series or the World Cup or the Super Bowl or any of a number of other games.  The people who ultimately win these contests would probably have never done so without the important contributions of many leaders and coaches who may not be players themselves (on the field of play that is) but who definitely contribute to the outcome.

Stay tuned for the next two posts in this six-part series, where I’ll go into more specifics about how to adopt the proper mindset for winning against stress.

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