We’ve all had those gut-wrenching moments where our heart beat pounds through our chest. Beads of sweat run off the crown of our head as we race through our to-do list to alleviate just the tiniest bit of stress. I can promise you, though, the stress will keep coming back. It can be short-term or chronic and the effect it has on an individual's health varies. But even though stress is unavoidable, the purpose of this post isn’t to make you fear. Instead, it’s about learning how to make stress your friend. This is a guide to loving yourself even when you’re at your very worst - beginning with a lesson on how to live longer.
Stress Less About Stress to Live Longer
In this TED talk, Kelly McGonignal, author of The Upside to Stress, paves a compelling argument for rethinking stress. She argues that if we associate the feelings with stress with one’s of empowerment, our body will biologically react as it would to joy, opposed to stress. See for yourself:
Now that we’ve touched stress-management on a biological level, I want to point your attention towards dealing with work-related stress.
Practice Positive Mental Hygiene
When you let stress get the best of you, it can get in the way of managing responsibilities and prevent you from pursuing new ones. Not only will this add pressure, it will make you lose faith in your ability to get the job done which frankly, only hurts you. Whenever I have a goal in mind and experience self-doubt, I take the following steps to determine if I’m being unrealistic, or if stress is speaking for me.
To get my thoughts out of my head, I write down what is bothering me, and how it was triggered:
“I failed to meet a deadline and now my client won’t give me a good review”
I challenge my assumptions as a scientist would challenge a hypothesis:
"Did I renegotiate the timeline? Will I get fired for it?"
Lastly, I look for evidence of the contrary:
"Did I get a promotion recently? Was I serving a returning client?"
I’m a firm believer that writing things down manifests reality. Once you’ve worked through your problems on paper, you will be able to realize stress is limiting you.
Clean Up Your Act
I mean this both internally, and externally. When I say internally, I mean clean up what you put into your body. Improving your diet is the first step to living a happier, healthier life. As a matter of a fact, unhealthy eating habits contribute to a dull mind. Replace sugary drinks with water, don’t skip meals, meditate, and pick up Tim Ferris’ book, 4-Hour Body to set you on track to physical success.
Excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information, which is why messy workspace contributes to a stressful lifestyle. Whether it be the books on your shelves or the unorganized folders on your computer, creating space by organizing your belonging makes you feel at ease. Adopting a minimalist lifestyle may seem farfetched for some, but the process of limiting your belongings to your bare essentials frees you from the social pressures of consumption. Cleaning up your external environment is a refreshing process that leads to the outcome of improved internal happiness.
Instead of letting stress overcome you, use stress as a catalyst to conquer your fears and declutter your life. Your challenge starts now.