Stress Relief: Why Stress Relief Tips Don’t Work

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Let’s cut right to the chase: stress relief tips don’t work because they don’t go deep enough. 

Most people know this, intuitively, but they just can’t help themselves.  They can’t give up this romantic notion that some magical stress relief tip—or collection of tips—(in shining armor) is eventually going to come along, kiss them on the lips, and instantly transform them into a stress-free human being. 

We Are Addicted To Tips 

As a society, we’ve become incredibly addicted to simple-sounding tips.  Everywhere we go, tips are all around us.  

Pick up any popular magazine, on almost any topic area at all, and you’ll probably find hundreds of tips in each and every issue.  Listen to any radio or t.v. interview, featuring any subject expert as a guest, and the primary thing every host interviewer will do is try to extract some juicy, simplistic tips that can be shared with their tip-hungry listening audience. 

Tips Sound Great…But Do They Really Deliver? 

There are many common problems in life where a few strategic tips really can help you solve things.  For example, tips for knowing how to properly start your gas-powered lawnmower, or five top tips for eliminating ants or other pests from your home, might be all you really need. 

But much deeper and more profound human-type problems—like how to cure alcoholism, how to live a happy and successful life, how to create a lasting and mutually satisfying marriage—these all require much, much deeper solutions.   

Simple tips, no matter how good they might sound, are not going to be sufficient. 

Why Tips Don’t Help Much For Dealing With Stress 

The major problem with stress relief tips is that they mostly target superficial changes.  They may encourage you to do certain things (or stop doing certain things), or they may convince you to starting thinking about aspects of your life in new ways (or stop thinking in stress-producing ways), etc.

But what stress relief tips don’t do is THEY DON’T FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE YOU AS A HUMAN BEING. 

Tips don’t help you change the way you think about stress GLOBALLY.  They don’t help you overcome the many popular myths and misconceptions that have caused you to misunderstand what stress really is, where it comes from in your life, and what your best options are for coping with it. 

What makes stress relief tips so seductive is that they promise to make relieving our stress into a superficial, relatively easy process.  This feeds right into our “quick-fix” modern mentality.  And it’s precisely because most stress relief tips promise fast stress relief—while at the same time reassuring us that we don’t have to fundamentally change ourselves to get it—that makes them so difficult to resist. 

To fundamentally (globally) change the way you think about stress takes time.  It takes a commitment to study and learning.  It takes self-examination, self-observation, and a fair degree of honesty.   

In other words, it takes work, and it also requires an open, inquisitive mind. 

Of course, if you don’t like doing this work, and you just want someone to spoon-feed you simplistic advice about how to reduce your stress, tips will do just fine. 

They won’t do you very much good, but at least you can maintain the illusion that you really are trying to deal with your stress. 

So the next time somebody offers you a really good tip for eliminating stress, if you want to go for the real deal, then politely thank them for their interest, and respectfully decline their well-meaning offer.




{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly Evers January 11, 2012 at 5:49 PM

As a work from home mother I never made time for stress management until it became an issue. I used a reminder technique that reminding often each hour to breath, relax muscle tension, & refocus my actions to my daily goals. The technique works & now I have been helping 1000’s of people to use a journal technique & reminder stress management technique for today’s busy lifestyle.
Kelly Evers
Founder of Stress Release Reminders


Doc Orman, M.D. January 12, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Kelly: Thanks for your post. I know a little about journaling but never heard of your reminder system before. Sounds like a great idea.


Nicola Menage January 12, 2012 at 3:14 AM

Spot on..I love this post, you have hit the nail on the head. I agree to tackle stress it takes action. My firm belief is to change the way you think about yourself. To examine yours and others expectations. To be realistic and above all to practice self hypnosis, mindfulness or meditation on a daily basis, in order to train and quieten the mind.
Tips serve their place-to a degree it is good to be aware of how much you eat and drink, the amount of exercise etc etc, however they do not solve the underlying issues.


Doc Orman, M.D. January 12, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Nicola: Thanks for posting your comment. I agree that how we think about stress, our expectations, etc. have a good bit to do with how much (or little) stress we end up with. I also think that mindfulness training can be valuable as well, if it’s done in a good way and done consistently for a long while.


Kelly May 11, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Nicola: The key to tackle stress does take action often each day. Most people today do not realize they are living with unhealthy levels of stress. Dwelling on past experiences, or worrying about future events is robbing their present moment. When the mind is cluttered and not focused, it causes the body to become anxious, tense, and even at times frantic. This is why I believe in Stress Release Reminders. It is designed to remind you often each day to practice self hypnosis, mindfulness or meditation, in order to train and quieten the mind. Eventually, you will replace the bad habits with healthy ones.

Awareness is the hardest step, and Stress Release Reminders makes it easy.


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