1. Commit Realistically versus Succumb to Guilt
This includes a commitment to getting into action – putting into practice what you learn in this article. Commit to being easy on yourself if you fail, but commit fully to refining the plan realistically each time i.e. with realistic and do-able promises rather than beating yourself up for failure and then committing to more unrealistic promises.
After all, what is the point of getting stressed out over failing to reduce stress?
Big hint: if you reduce stress, you will probably increase productivity. We have seen multiples of productivity increase when stress reduction is done – often within weeks or months.
2. Take on ‘Being Bigger than Your Stress’: The King of All Stress Cutting Habits: Practice Context
The brain responds only to actions that you take e.g. habits or practices. My invitation to you is to develop the king of all good stress-cutting habits; a meta-habit if you will.
This meta-habit is to create, shift and use context all the time. What does this mean?
Most stress (I assert) occurs because we put more attention on what happened in the past rather than looking to see what we would like to create in the future. The meta-habit is to practice looking for a strong, good reason to put more attention and energy towards what you desire in the future versus what has happened in the past i.e. to put more oxygen on the future than on the past.
- The first part of this practice is to ask yourself especially in moments of high stress: “What will put more oxygen in me moving forward to what I desire and really want – the stressful activity that I am about to do (e.g. worrying, screaming, fantasizing on revenge, knee jerk activities to fix the situation, etc.) OR something else that I really want?” Put this question on your desktop to remind you.
- The second part: you will start noticing a trend in what you really want after a while: try to put these items that you really want into a sentence that will become your mission statement, credo or ‘anchor point’. For example if you notice that what you really want is to ‘Just Handle my finances for once’, ‘Get Rid of Pesky Clients Who Complain’, etc., then create a mission or credo like “The fulfillment of my financial dreams and satisfaction with client partnerships that matter”
- The third part: create practices that reflect this new context e.g. A plan to get more clients e.g. a dialogue session with someone who can truly help in creating such a plan e.g. scheduling a time to reduce expenses g. creating a plan for a better system of referrals
- The fourth part: keep refining this mission statement and the practices that come out of this way of thinking. If you fail to do the practices, look for simpler and easier ones to start with.
3. Create blank space on the calendar
Most people cram their schedules with tasks, priorities, actions, appointments, classes, etc. I can tell within 15 seconds of looking at one’s calendar, how much stress they are experiencing on a day-to-day basis – you just have to look to see how well they constrict or spread out their days with work.
Impose the following two rules on your calendar:
- Have blank time in between every block of time on your calendar: preferably at least 15 minutes.
- Have a large block of time unscheduled everyday between 9 am and 5 pm
This will force you to do two things
- Realistically assess what you will get done in one day (see point #4 below)
- Spread your work out over the week and month rather than cramming them unrealistically in one day
The pacing of your work will help reduce stress… and interestingly increase productivity.
4. Pay attention to your brain: Less is more – Less gives Less Stress and More Results per Time
As you increase the number of projects you take on in a day, your productivity and your stress do go up. This is what is called ‘good’ or healthy stress. But beyond a certain number (typically between four and seven), this stress becomes unworkable (‘bad’ or unhealthy stress) and your marginal productivity decreases substantially.
We have found that the sweet spot for average projects for a day is about 4 to 5.
5. Nurture & Manage Your Sources of Energy
List out the activities, experiences, or relationships that energize you e.g. a sport, a long-desired hobby, watching sunsets with your loved one, eating chocolate, meeting your best friend, etc.
Do this now.
Notice what has changed in your energy level and level of stress.
In my coaching, I call these energy sources.
Right now, schedule a time for the next four weeks (once a week at least) to indulge in each of the top four energy sources.
More good stuff…
In my coaching practice, I have listed out at least 35 more ways to reduce stress. If you are interested in learning more, be sure to contact me or follow me on LinkedIn.
Since 1991, I’ve been reflecting on, designing, and implementing methodologies and systems for bringing a transcendent, creative and innovative approach to critical aspects of entrepreneurship.