Many of us live very complex lives. Some complexity is necessary and serves a purpose. But, most of us have areas in our lives that are more intricate than they need to be, and can be simplified.
Most of us confuse pressure with stress, or think that they are the same. Pressure comes from demanding circumstances. How we react to those circumstances is an emotional choice. We often default to feeling stressed without considering our options.
Like any other emotional reaction, we have the ability to choose to feel stressed, or be resilient. If we see stress as our reaction, detached from the cause, it’s easier to process it as an emotion.
Our daily pressures may be intense, but they only result in stress if we ruminate on them. That is, if we focus attention on them beyond what’s useful, to the point where we feel anxious. So instead of questioning how we stop stressing, it may be easier to consider how to stop ruminating.
Here’s a solution… evaluate the pressures. Split them into things we can and can’t control. Ignore the ones we can’t, or choose not to change. Focus on the ones we can, and are willing to affect, until we figure out a realistic plan. Then, quickly distract our mind by moving on to something else so that there’s no space for rumination.
For example, if we are under pressure because we’ve overcommitted ourselves, we should figure out what we really need to do, and the things we can delegate, put off, or eliminate. Then quickly, before our mind starts harping on useless worry (rumination), let go of the situation and move on.
Take action: The solution in this tip may sound easy in theory, but it will take practice to build up the reliance needed to choose where to focus your attention before it hits your emotions. Try having mindful distractions at the ready, such as time with kids, or learning a new physical skill. Better yet, teach yourself how to switch emotional gears through a mindfulness practice such as gratitude or meditation.
:: Inspired by Derek Roger, Ph.D and Nick Petrie’s book, Work without Stress: Building a Resilient Mindset for Lasting Success.
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