Cathy Kreyche

When people ask motivational speaker and communications consultant Cathy Kreyche what they can do to alleviate stress in their professional and personal lives, her answer is as ambiguous as it is amusing. “Embrace it,” she says. “Life is stressful and if we didn’t have stress we would be a pot of wet noodles!” But Kreyche says while some stress can create challenges, resiliency is developed by meeting challenges through self actualization — in other words, on your own terms.

Kreyche makes a presentation for the Professional Service Group of Mercer County at the Princeton Public Library on Friday, January 31, at 9:45 a.m. For more information, visit www.psgofmercercounty.org. Kreyche will offer advice and solutions to the prevailing question thousands of people ask daily: “How do I deal with stress?” Kreyche, an author and avid traveler, however, likes to put a slightly different spin on query and says, “Make stress work for you.”

Kreyche was born in Chicago and lived in various places across the country, including, Indiana, Kansas City, Washington DC, and Virginia, before moving to New Jersey in 2014. She earned an undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University and a graduate degree in history from Indiana University.

As a communications strategist and writer for more than 25 years, Kreyche has worked on a variety of projects, including work as a developmental editor on academic books; editor/consultant on self-published memoirs; and writing comprehensive reports for parents of children with special needs. She is a member of the advisory board of the Rutgers University Writers Conference.

Stress is the brain’s response to any demand or change that can be triggered by virtually anything. Stress causes the body to experience things such as chronic pain, insomnia, depression, and a decreased immune system. The harsh reality is that stress is something that can be caused by anything and affects everyone at some point in their life. “Stress in our bodies is designed to help us act,” Kreyche says. “When we bring our minds and our awareness into action, we have the potential to respond in ways beyond what we can envision.”

In recent years, the medical community has focused on loneliness as a serious health risk. “The negative effects of stress can increase the more we believe that we are responsible for everything that happens to us — and the more socially isolated we become,” Kreyche says.

But, she adds, while many people view anxiety filled situations as negative, there are indeed ways to effectively handle angst filled situations. For example, implementing a vision into a creative design; writing, singing or becoming involved in the community are common outlets for reducing stress. “These are not only ways to deal productively with stress, but also ways to enter more fully into life,” she says. “When work and productivity become the overwhelming drive for us, we lose our sense of humanness.”

Kreyche dismisses the idea that all stress is bad and encourages people to know how to distinguish between the two. “We think of stress and being stressed out when something negative is happening,” she says. “However, you can be stressed when really good things are happening in your business or personal life.” Events such as a job promotion or obtaining a cash windfall are examples of situations that can create positive stress.

As a member of the Rutgers Writers Conference Advisory Board, she says live events such as group readings, discussions, and weekly meetings with scribes and other innovative people creates the potential for change and is a viable outlet for stress.

However, social isolation and loneliness are negative off shoots of stress. With the advent of social media, the health risk of social isolation and stress related health issues has become a focal point of some community based groups. Organizations such as the Professional Service Group offer resources to young professionals, seniors, and others about the benefits of becoming active in a community.

How to Make Stress work for You: A proponent of the written word, Kreyche says language has enabled her to navigate stressful situations throughout her life. She also credits her father — a former educator and writer, as well as a graduate school history course, with inspiring her notion that language is indeed about the art of persuasion.

She offers these tidbits of advice for how to make stress work for you.

Deep Breaths: “Breathing makes you aware if your own sense of aliveness and vitality,” she says. When we take deep breaths,our heart rate slows down and relaxes the body and relieves stress.

Yoga, Meditation, and Feldenkrais: Specific exercise and therapy that improves the connection between the body and the brain. “All of these things have tremendous benefits for dealing with stress because these practices help us reclaim the body so that we are not walking heads,” she says.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Kreyche says much of the advice offered Richard Carlson’s 1997 best-seller is still relevant today. However, she adds, “Sometimes, focusing on the small stuff provides some good reminders when we lose perspective.”

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