2020 was a year like no other, it’ has been a tough one with many challenges, from racial inequality to the pandemic. It felt pretty stressful, right?
Consider for a moment, the situation itself isn’t stressful – the “stress” comes from our response. Let’s take a look at what stress is and how to have less stress.
What Exactly Is Stress?
Stress is your physical, mental, or emotional reaction to any change that occurs in our environment, or indeed in our thoughts. 🧠
As we reflect on the past 12 months and look toward a new year, which will undoubtedly bring situations that will challenge us, we know there are difficult times ahead.
How Can We Deal With Stress More Effectively?
First, know that stress isn’t your fault. The pandemic is outside of your control and Christmas is coming, virtually or otherwise. However, your reaction to stress, the pandemic, and whatever comes at you next year, is something you can control, which is good news!
There are easy steps for less stress, that with a little practice will work for anyone. Let’s take a look.
Change Your Mindset For Less Stress
When life becomes challenging it is an opportunity for growth, an opportunity to experience something and respond differently. The easiest way to do that is to become curious about what would happen if you respond differently.
When you next feel stressed, stop and ask yourself what result might you get if you viewed the situation differently.
Imagine this scenario – two employees work for the same manager, one genuinely thinks he is hilarious, the other finds his jokes completely nauseating, which one of these employees has a better day at work?
Not only will a growth mindset change your day – it changes your brain! As Carol Dweck points out in her book Mindset, a growth mindset will make you more intelligent.
How To Flip Your Mindset For Less Stress
Step 1. Take time out
So much stress comes from trying to achieve too much at the same time. When we don’t prioritise balance, our performance (in all areas) flounders. To create a mindset that helps you better manage stress. Make a habit of taking a timeout from the stressor as regularly as possible. Be that an afternoon off work (and not checking emails), an hour to yourself to exercise or a hobby, or just making sure that your evenings and weekends are your own – it will all help.
Step 2. Move More
Luckily for us, our bodies are equipped with ready-to-go stress-busting chemicals – endorphins. To activate them, you just need to move more. It doesn’t matter how you do it, whether you run, dance, or do starjumps in around your office. What matters is that you move and get your blood pumping. Your endorphins will trigger more positive feelings in the brain, even when you’re experiencing stress. Helping you change your mindset and stress levels.
Step 3. Use Your Stress
There are a number of ways that we can use stress to deal with stress – sounds counterintuitive I know. Let me explain.
When we are stressed, we often feel a rise in energy, that energy is adrenaline which is triggered by stressful situations. Instead of letting that stress energy take over your day and mind, harness it for exercise or channel it into goal setting.
The things that stress us can also be reframed as ways to learn. If you are stressed because of your own actions, then what lessons can you take from it? When someone else’s actions stress you, try to understand from their viewpoint and increase your empathy skills.
Opportunity comes in the most unlikely forms. Including stress. When we’re stressed, there is an opportunity to create solutions and brainstorm ideas for related and unrelated problems.
So much of the external work to solve the ongoing global challenges is out of your hands, but the internal work is up to you. 2020 showed us how to slow down and cherish the “moments” we have together, they are so precious. Enjoy each of those moments, wholeheartedly.