If busy is the new black then stress is its highly popular accessory. That’s not to say that stress is all bad all of the time. No one is expecting you to become a Zen Monk. In fact a low amount of intermittent stress actually helps improve focus and task completion.
However, it’s the constant low level of stress coupled with frequent high stress that is causing so much harm in todays society. We fill our plates until they overflow with tasks and to dos and then run around like maniacs trying to get it all done. And even if our plates aren’t overflowing there’s always a coworker, family, or friend waiting right around the corner to toss something on there if we let them.
I am the Queen of the overfilled plate – so I speak from experience here. Part of the reason to write this series on stress and burnout is due to research I’ve done to help myself lower my stress and minimize my chance of burnout.
WHAT’S NOT WORKING
Before we discuss how to fix it, let’s talk about what isn’t helping:
New job or career
Adding additional employees to your business
Another productivity app
Now it’s not to say that some of these things won’t help in extreme situations, but over the long haul they aren’t providing the kind of stress relief people believe that they will.
Why? Because they are simply changing external factors when the stress that many of us feel needs to be solved from the inside out.
Sure it seems like if you could just hire someone to take over all this paperwork, that would lift your burden and all will be well. But, if after all that paperwork is gone, you just go out and pile more tasks on your plate, did you fix anything?
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD
I talked about this in my last post about emotional energy. Reframing a situation can bring a huge relief to the way you see it and release your mind from the fight or flight mode that it’s stuck in. We become very unresourceful in this mode and we tend to spotlight it – it becomes the only thing we see and we only view it in one way.
Reframing allows you to see the situation from another angle.
For example, if you reframe the stress as actually helping you focus and keeping you alert, you will see it as a positive thing. By changing the way you think about the stress, you change the way your body reacts to it. Believe that it will help you, and it will.
Another positive reframe is going from
What can I learn?
This will help pull you out of the emotional response that leads to fight or flight and allow you to get to your analytical thinking.
If you’re struggling to do this, consider using someone else’s perspective. If your mentor were in this situation, what would she do?
This is one of the hardest things to do for those chronic worriers out there, but it will save you mountains of unnecessary stress.
Take a long, hard look at the situation that’s causing you stress. Ask yourself:
What is in my control? How can I manage that better?
What is NOT in my control? How can I let go of that?
There are still going to be situations where you can’t control the outcome, but they will affect you deeply. In these times remember that you may not be able to control the outcomes, but you are able to control how you react. Choose your actions instead of reacting.
If you are a chronic worrier, you can work changing this. If you always go straight to worry, that is a habit, and habits can be rewritten. When you notice that you are worrying, acknowledge it, and then actively change your thoughts. At first your brain will keep going right back there, but eventually it will improve. Just remember, the longer you’ve had the habit, the longer it might take to change.
Learn from it
When we’re in a stressful situation all we want to do is get through it and live to see the other side. Once it’s over, it’s over and we’re on to the next thing.
But what if we stopped for a moment afterwards and considered
“What can I learn from this situation?”
Notice I didn’t say how could I have fixed this situation. Part of our stress is believing that we must control everything around us. When so little is actually in our control, this just leads to more stress.
If the situation is likely to come up again focus on what things you could do differently, plan for those changes, and then execute. Simply planning but taking no action will actually lead to more stress. It’s the doing that creates the improvement.
If you are struggling to manage your stress and busyness click here and fill out the form, and we can talk about how I can help you.