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Calling All Control Freaks!

by Peggy Hamerly, Certified Health Coach

Are you a control freak?

If not, you probably know one, or live with one! If you are, you are probably the type of person who makes detailed plans of how your day should go. You have a to-do list and you like to check off items as they are finished. You probably plan out your Thanksgiving celebration a year in advance, locking everyone else into your schedule. You may have a hard time adapting to unexpected changes life may bring. Whenever things don’t go according to your timetable, it causes you enormous stress and a feeling of losing control.

Sometimes this is described as a “Type A Personality.” But did you know that type A’s are more likely to die earlier from a heart attack or coronary artery disease? Multiple studies have found a positive correlation between heart disease and stress. (

So, what’s the solution?

Since stress is an inevitable part of everyone’s life, the question is, “How to manage, reduce, or control it?” The good news is that it is possible!

  1.  Learn to be more flexible.  Reward yourself each time that you take a change of plans in stride.
  2. Have an alternate “Plan B” or “Plan C” for when things don’t go your way.  (Assume that they won’t many times.)
  3. Learn to laugh at yourself and defuse anger or stress.
  4. Assume that everything works out a certain way for a reason that you may not understand…yet. Think about people who missed the subway and were late to their offices at the World Trade Center on 9-11.  They were probably frustrated and angry in the moment, but ultimately grateful for that life-saving delay.
  5. Exercise to release pent up energy in a constructive way.
  6. Take deep breathing breaks. (Sit comfortably.  Inhale through your nose to the count of 4; hold your breath for 4 more counts; exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of 8.  Repeat 10 or more times until you feel relaxed.   This is also a great way to calm your mind and fall asleep at night.)
  7. Get a massage or a facial.  
  8. Keep a stress log where you record things that cause you stress and make an action plan for each one.
  9. Spend time with good friends who can make you relax and laugh.
  10. Spend time in prayer.  One of my favorite Bible verses that helps me to accept changes in plans is:  “A man makes his plans, but the Lord orders his steps.”  (Proverbs 16:9)  Admit that things are ultimately not all under my control!   Knowing that it’s all in His hands helps me to move on and allow Him to redirect me.

Write down your plan for handling stress today. Would you like to discuss it further?

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