Understand Your Stress

The number one cause of burnout? Stress.

Research shows us stress makes us stupider (13 IQ points dumber, to be exact)

Another way stress keeps itself in business is by making us believe getting stressed is a good way to get activated and get stuff done. The problem? 

Our bodies/minds were NOT made to be under constant stress. Stress hormone coursing through our veins has been linked to every malady from heart disease to cancer. It messes up everything from our ability to think clearly and to digest our food. 

It makes us physically sick and mentally 

And, it burns us the hell out.

Let’s do something about it. 

  1. Change your focus

Lots of us have a hard time dealing with stress because we hyperfocus on the stressors instead of managing the stress. The stressors are the situations, people, or circumstances that trigger our stress. The stress is being in an activated state of fear or agitation (often in reaction to the stressor.)

Blaming the stressors looks like this, “If only he would stop doing______ I could relax!!” “I just wish she’d stop being_______ so I wouldn’t have to worry.” “If the economy would just______ I’d be fine.” 

Whether the stressor is someone else’s behavior or the economy’s performance, you have little or control over them. 

If you can control the stressor, make a change. Remove or reduce all stressors you can. But, if you can’t control the behavior of people in your life (hint: you can’t). It’s time to stop zeroing in on the stressor and start focusing on how you reduce your stress. Stressors are very often out of our control. Wailing and gnashing our teeth at the stressors is often a waste of time. 

Maya, a business leader, was obsessed with the way her colleague, Jane, operated. Jane skipped most meetings, and when a new plan or idea was introduced, she always had another idea. The company CEO recognized Jane’s unconventional (and sometimes contrary) behavior. But, Maya conceded the woman delivered good results. So, we worked on ways Maya could stay in her lane—recognizing Jane’s style couldn’t work for her, but if it worked for the organization, Maya needed to process her stress response so she didn’t suffer because of the behavior she couldn’t control. 

  1. Stop the Cycle

Stress propagates itself by setting up a vicious cycle. When you’re already stressed, you’re more likely to find everyday occurrences even more frustrating (and stressful.) So, while Maya was concerned about changing market conditions and how it would impact her division’s performance, her stress level rose. When she was stressed out, Jane’s behavior triggered Maya (and drove her crazy) in a way it wouldn’t have before. 

We swirl around in a toilet bowl of reactionism.

  1. Manage Your Thoughts

Managing our thoughts is a piece of the stress puzzle. Noticing unhelpful and stress-inducing thoughts and replacing them or reframing your thinking around them will help.  

Ask yourself, “Is this thought helpful?” If the answer is NO, then you need to reframe the thought into something that’s more helpful.

If you’re thinking “There’s not enough time!!” 

Try

“What’s the next best step I can take to make a little progress.” 

Changing your thoughts  will change your emotional reactions and make it easier to accomplish what matters to you.

Feel like you never have enough time?

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