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Dean Lindsay on Stress and Stress Management…
“When I hear somebody sigh, ‘Life is hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘compared to what?’” — Sydney Harris
Over the years I’ve been surprised by the number of professionals in my boot camps and in one-on-one coaching who have shared with me their sense of being overwhelmed, underappreciated, and underpaid. Workplace stress is rarely part of anyone’s job description, but it is unfortunately part of most jobs. It is tough to progress when we are stressed. In fact, we feel stress when we feel we are being hindered from progressing.
How to deal with or relate to the stressful stimuli in this high-tech, low-touch world of speed-of-light change is a vital and important topic that desperately needs discussion.
Check this: Stress not only limits your progress; stress can and will kill you (if you don’t take action)!
- The American Medical Association says that stress is now the basic cause of over 60% of all diseases and illnesses (cancer, heart problems, etc.).
- Stress-related problems, according to the American Institute for Stress, are responsible for 75 % to 90 % of doctor visits.
- A study conducted by the University of London found that unmanaged reactions to stress were more likely to lead to cancer and heart disease than either smoking cigarettes or eating foods high in the bad kind of cholesterol.
Virtually no part of the body escapes the ravages of prolonged negative stress. Unfortunately, many of us make up our minds to “get serious” about our physical and mental health only when we become ill, suffer a heart attack, or experience some other form of breakdown.
Stress is very dangerous, not to mention expensive. Businesses across the U.S. of A. lose $200-$300 billion dollars annually to stress, resulting in loss in productivity (i.e., less progress) and treatment costs. Effects of stress in the workplace include absenteeism, disruptive outbursts, and the tendency to do as little as possible to get by.
All reduce productivity and damage an organization’s bottom line. Plus, many of us do not have a well-defined boundary between work and home, and end up taking work problems home with us and letting them affect our personal life.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” — Marcus Aurelius
I don’t mean to stress you out about stress, but the crazy thing to consider is that WE are truly the ultimate cause of our own stress. It is our reaction to stressful stimuli that “makes us sick,” not the stimuli themselves. We internalize too much outside pressure, which causes inside pressures. No matter what the circumstance, we still have power over the attitude we take toward it. When we feel stress, we become focused on the pain and not the opportunities to take positive steps.
Often, we invest so much time dealing with stress that we don’t take time to progress.
We all relate to stimuli differently. What really freaks one person out may excite another, or only mildly irritate a third person. The key is to know in advance positive ways to respond to stressful stimuli.
When our negative reactions to the little stuff build up, it undermines our ability to progress. We become irritable and worn out, which leads to more stress. This is an inappropriate triggering of a very useful survival mechanism. When we’re in fight-or-flight mode, we NEED to focus on negatives (no time to smell the flowers when we’re running from a burning building). But when the same physiological reaction is in response to social situations, we only see the negatives, and lose sight of our strengths and resources.
We often think of stressful stimuli as the big life stuff – like a challenging relationship or a scary economic climate. But a great deal of our anxiety comes from the little day-to-day pressures commonly faced in today’s workplace. This dear old world is full of possible “stressors”:
- Dissatisfied customers and indecisive prospects
- Our kids, our coworkers, our coworkers’ kids
- Technology challenges and industry shifts
- Unrealistic workloads and deadlines
- Slow computers, slow microwaves
- Office gossip and competition
- Long unorganized meetings
- Long commutes in traffic
- Disorganized work area
- Dictatorial leadership
- Cell phones & spam
- Physical ailments
These are but a few of the world’s never-ending supply of stimuli that we may choose to freak out over, or calmly face. Our power lies in never losing sight of the fact that it’s our choice to get stressed by something or not get stressed by something. We have the choice to be happy, to be mad, to be stressed, to be giddy. I like giddy. Nothing can MAKE us stressed, just like, despite the suggestion of many a love song, we can’t MAKE someone happy, or vice versa. We can do things we think will encourage them to choose to be happy, but we can not MAKE someone happy. It is their choice. To be stressed is ours. When we are stressed, we are choosing to respond to stimuli in a stressful way. Stress may be normal, but is not necessary.
You control you. You only control you. Only you control you. You control you only.
It feels great to give 110% at work, but it’s important to always remember that taking good care of ourselves pays off professionally as well as emotionally. Develop stress immunity and resilience. Invest time in doing what helps you renew your energy. If we are going to put ourselves in the best possible position to work and win in this world of change, it is vital that we take back control of our lives and careers by choosing to gain control of our thought processes. Pretending that the stress stimuli are not all around us only increases the problem. The way to progress is through recognition and action.
“When we commit to action, to actually doing something rather than feeling trapped by events, the stress in our life becomes manageable.” — Greg Anderson
Ponder & Progress: Too Stressed to Progress
- When do you feel overworked and overwhelmed?
- What are you allowing yourself to get stressed about?
- What physical challenges are you having that may be
related to stress?
- Do you have trouble sleeping due to stress?
- Is it time to get serious about your stress?
- How can you be better prepared for stressful stimuli?
- How can you choose not to stress?
- Do you have too many demands on your time?
- Are you too stressed to progress?
- Can you DO something about a stressful situation?
Bet you CAN, and if you can …DO IT.
“Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” — Danzae Pace
From Stress to Progress: Ten Tips
Stress Management Speaker Tip #1
Make Some YOU Time.
YOU time is not a luxury. YOU time is not wasted time. We all need to turn it down a bit from time to time. YOU time is vital to your progress. Invest time in relaxing. The key is the mental break. Don’t even think about feeling guilty about this YOU time. Fun and leisure are vital for recharging our lives.
- Read a book or magazine (the one you just haven’t had time to read).
- Watch your favorite childhood movie.
- Have coffee with a friend.
- Visit a museum or library.
- Take a power nap.
- Listen to your soothing, relaxing music.
- Get a hobby.
- Stretch; maybe try Pilates or yoga.
- Take a hot shower or warm bath.
- Get a massage. Maybe you have the need to be kneaded.
- Take a vacation; even a 20-minute one can help.
Important Note: Vacations should be vacations. It’s not a vacation if you’re reading business emails and taking a bunch of business calls. Set boundaries between work and the rest of your life. If we can’t completely detach from work, we are unable to receive the benefits of the attempted rest.
When and how do you relax?
Stress Management Speaker Tip #2
Think Lovely Thoughts.*
Yes, I am talking about affirmations. We use affirmations all the time; it’s just that most of them are negative, stress-inducing, and self-limiting.
“My job stinks.”
“I am stressed out.”
“I can’t catch a break.
Our brains are trippy and complicated, and can do amazing things. But at their core, our brains want one thing: To Be Right. Whatever we continually tell ourselves about ourselves and our lives, our brains are working overtime to make true. Visualize the good. Practice self-talk that emphasizes a self-affirming attitude.
“I can handle this.”
“I make good decisions.”
“I am having a good day.”
It is imperative that we be careful about the things we say to ourselves, and to talk to ourselves as a winner to a winner. As I mentioned earlier, your brain is a terrible thing to use against yourself.
*Think Lovely Thoughts is what Peter Pan told John, Michael, and Wendy they would have to do to learn to fly in the song, “I’m Flying.” Peter also blew fairy dust on them but I don’t know where you can get your hands on any of that. The kids came up with lovely thoughts like: Fishing, Hoopskirt, Candy, Picnics, Summer, More Candy, Sailing, Flowers, still more Candy, and Christmas.
What are lovely thoughts to you?
Stress Management Speaker Tip #3
Say YES to NO.
Most of us take on too many responsibilities, try to do too much, and even own too much. Being too busy is a big source of stress in today’s get, get, get and go, go, go world. Often, we are so chronically over-scheduled that we never give ourselves a chance to offer our best or to enjoy the moment.
Are your days fulfilling, or are they merely full?
It is possible that we could get more out of life by doing less. When we internalize the difference between full and fulfilling, we realize it’s not how many events we attend, activities we get involved in, or how much stuff we have that’s important. We do not have to say “yes” to every demand on OUR time. And we shouldn’t feel bad, since we are saying “no” to the event or project, not the person.
Being busy can wear us out. If we are committed to working and winning in this world of change, we must know our limits and not limit our NOs.
- Consider your well-crafted goals and your schedule before agreeing to additional work.
- Simplify – get rid of the clutter and baggage in your life and in your house. Say NO to clutter.
- Start your own Just Say NO campaign to regain quality time. Review priorities and see if a request fits. When you see things that waste time or hinder your progress, speak up.
- Stop trying to make everyone happy. (We can’t do it anyway.)
A polite way to say NO to a request for YOUR time: “I’m quite committed. I can be your backup, but please keep searching.”
Stress Management Speaker Tip #4
Air In. Air Out.
Deep breathing is one of the best stress-relief methods, often recommended but rarely utilized. Deep breathing works as long as you don’t do it right in front of your boss or a customer. Here is the classic method in a four-step process:
Step 1: Close your eyes and focus only on breathing.*
Step 2: Take in a slow deep breath.
Step 3: Hold for three to five seconds.
Step 4: Slowly exhale.
Repeat five to 10 times, as needed. Whether you breathe in through the nose and/or out through the mouth, is irrelevant. It is the deep abdominal breathing that’s inherently relaxing.
*Do keep eyes open if driving or playing racquetball.
Stress Management Speaker Tip #5
Find and Create Humor.
As legendary director Mel Brooks said, “Humor is just another defense against the universe.” Our minds can only focus on one thing at a time. When we find the humor in a situation, it automatically relieves stress because the humor takes the place of stress, washing it away in waves of laughter and sometimes even rivers of tears. Laughter is good medicine.
Humor is a learned coping skill that improves with practice. When we laugh, similar to when we exercise, endorphins are released in the brain that help us feel better about the situation and offer more energy to tackle challenges. “Belly laughs” are also said to give our innards a good workout, massaging our organs while warming our hearts. Touching, isn’t it?
“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble on the road.”— Henry Ward Beecher
Humor also happens to be profitable. People are drawn to people who are upbeat and have a positive, jovial frame of mind. Professionals who maintain a sense of humor gain respect. Find what makes you laugh. And be sure to laugh at yourself from time to time.
What makes you laugh?
Where is the humor in the situation.
Stress Management Speaker Tip #6
Break a Sweat and Let Off Some Steam.
Have you heard about this new craze? They call it…regular exercise! When our lives seem to be up in the air, exercise can keep us grounded. Exercise releases mood-enhancing, feel-good chemicals like endorphins, the mind-body’s natural painkiller and mood-calmer. We feel better when we get a good workout in. Plus, exercise gives us a positive sense of accomplishment – and our clothes don’t fit as tightly.
It is recommended that we shoot for 30 minutes of some good sweaty physical activity three to four times a week. But even five minutes here and there throughout the day is going to make a difference in how we view stressful stimuli.
Even brisk walking and light stretching feel good and can help you stay in control. Be your own bouncer and take it outside. Fresh air and natural full-spectrum light add checks to the Good for You column. The main thing is to find ways of exercising that are fun for you.
Find exercise lonely or boring?
Get a friend to break a sweat with you. I bet they could use the exercise and the endorphins just as much as you.
Stress Management Speaker Tip #7
Budget Your Spending, and Save, Save, Save.
We all know that debt is a big, big problem. Statistics on American household debt are astounding. Living in the shadow of mountainous debt leaves little room for light or air. Its presence, always lumbering overhead and ever on our mind, means constant stress. And if we should momentarily forget about it, the phone is sure to ring at dinnertime with a friendly reminder from the Bank of Interruptions.
To meet the progress challenge, we must be willing to alter our spending behavior so we can sleep nights and get to where we want to be.
- Establish financial goals. Commit to achieving them.
- Pay off your whole credit card bill each month.
- Don’t wait to start saving. Time is ticking.
- Get enough life insurance.
- Do not let emotions drive buying or investment decisions.
All of the above help us go from stress to progress.
Stress Management Speaker Tip #8
Sleep tight and right.
A fresh mind and body are better able to relate powerfully to stressful stimuli. Let there be no doubt: Our minds and bodies need down-time for rejuvenation. Get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Yeah, I know – seven to eight every night is tough. At least go to bed at the same time each night. Give your mind and body the rest they need to recharge.
It is common when we are stressed to have difficulty in falling asleep, even if we have made it to bed at a good hour. This really stinks, because the stress has already worn us out and now we can’t nod off, which makes us even more stressed, tired, irritable, and unable to progress.
When having trouble falling asleep, take a warm shower or bath and try not to focus on the effects of not sleeping because that will just keep you from sleeping.
You might even consider trying Viktor Frankl’s technique of paradoxical intent. That is, if all else fails, pretend that you must stay awake, or convince yourself that staying awake is a good thing, that nothing bad will come of it, and that it will give you a great opportunity to let your mind wander. Putting a jolly spin on sleeplessness, even if it at first feels phony, will at least calm you down, and may even work in the way that Frankl envisioned.
Stress Management Speaker Tip #9
Give Mind and Body the “Right Fuel.”
Challenges take energy. A lack of the “right fuel” can cause a bunch of problems like fatigue, lack of concentration, low morale, halitosis, death-by-Twinkies, etc. Our minds and bodies respond more effectively to stressful stimuli when they are getting the right nutrients. Give your body the right fuel for life’s challenges.
“Tell me what you eat, I’ll tell you who you are.” — Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Hey, I’m not the guru on nutrition, and you don’t need one anyway. You know what the “Right Fuel” is. It’s the stuff we try to make kids eat.
As for drinking alcohol: Hangovers never add to the bottom line.
Stress Management Speaker Tip #10
Become Flexible in Problem Solving.
Allow yourself the time to work through challenges and find the best, possibly new or unique, way to progress. Be willing to try new solutions. Long commutes and driving in heavy traffic can seem like a big waste of time. Use that time to progress. Have mind-expanding CDs to listen to. Rigid thinking encourages stress.
- Don’t let assumptions limit possible solutions.
- Chop up big problems and challenges into smaller ones. Address each component individually.
- Ask several people for their advice and suggestions.
- Alter your point of view. Imagine yourself as a child, a billionaire, or even riding on a beam of light.
How would you view the challenge from this new perspective?
If you feel like your stress is just too much, talk with your family, a friend, or a counselor. Ask for help. Talk it out. Do not let stress impede your progress. The strong get help.
Beam me up, Einstein: It is said that Albert Einstein imagined riding on a beam of light when he came up with his theory of relativity. Pretty good theory.
Stress Management Speaker, Motivational Keynote 2021, Business, Self Talk, Affirmations, Worry, Deal with Stress, About, On, Training, Dallas
“For any company or organization looking for a key note speaker, I would like to offer my highest recommendation for Dean Lindsay. Our company engaged Dean to speak at our annual conference on October 5 of this year. I must say in a word, that he was outstanding! He did his homework on our company, understood his audience and fully connected with our attendees. His message was spot on! Dean was entertaining, informative, and motivating, with the right mix of humor. Actually he was very funny. But most importantly, his message resonated with everyone in our audience, as evidenced by the long standing ovation at the end of his speech. We look forward to having Dean speak again at future events for our company. If your company is looking for a key note speaker, kook no further, Dean Lindsay is your guy! You will not be disappointed.” – Steven C. Strickland, Chief Executive Officer. Co-Founder, Workout Anytime Franchising Systems, LLC
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