Don’t Stress Over Stress

Do you believe that all stress is bad? That all stress has a negative impact on your performance and life?

Maybe you’re one of those people who believes that some stress is positive. You could be one of those who believe that a bit of stress is actually good for you and actually improves your performance and productivity.

If your mindset on stress is negative then you likely stress over being stressed. If you believe that stress can be positive then you’re likely better able to handle everyday stress inducing events.

Let’s talk first about people with a mostly positive mindset about stress. This is a bit of a generalization but as a group they tend to be the people most willing to ask for help and feedback on their performance. They also are the most likely to have mentors to coach them through the stressful situation.

They gain confidence from “surviving” the stress-inducing event and as a result they have even less stress in the future.

The lesson here appears simple, if you want to be more effective at managing stress then at least consider the possibility that not all stress is negative.

The lesson might appear simple but it is not. You can’t just will stress away.

Here are some concrete actions you can take to help reduce everyday stress in your life:

Know your stressors.
This is the most important step of all, because identifying the things that cause stress in your life is the first step towards eliminating them. Take 15 minutes to think about what stresses you out during the day. What people, activities, and things cause stress in your life? Make a Top 10 list, and see which of them can be eliminated, and start to weed them out. For those that can’t, find ways to make them less stressful.

Remember, successful people don’t complain about the things in their life that they can control. If there are stressors in your life that you can control and you choose not to then stop complaining about too much stress. You must actually like it.

Eliminate unnecessary commitments.
Learn to say no! The most successful people under-commit and over-deliver. Personal commitments can be just as stressful as business commitments so examine your entire life to determine where and when you over commit. Be brutally honest with yourself and eliminate commitments that bring no real value to you or those important to you.

Stop being late.
Being late always stresses us out. When you have to rush to get ready, rush to get there, and worry the whole time about looking bad and being late you stress yourself out. Learn the good habit of being early, and this stress disappears. Make a conscious effort to start getting ready earlier, and to leave earlier. Time yourself to see how long it actually takes to get ready, and how long it actually takes to get somewhere. You’ve probably been underestimating these times. Once you know these times, you can plan backwards so that you show up a few minutes early each time. You’ll enjoy the feeling.

Manage your calendar.
Don’t fool yourself into believing you’re highly productive by filling your calendar each day from sun-up to sun-down. When you leave yourself no time to deal with the unexpected you allow the stress of dealing with the unexpected into your life. If you have a negative mindset about stress then you’re actually less productive when you’re stressed. Give yourself some time on your calendar each day to breath and you can exhale some of the stress from your life.

Be grateful. Learn to relish and appreciate the stress inducing events in your life. Consider the opportunities that come with stress. When your job causes you stress be thankful for it. If it was easy then your company might be paying somebody else less qualified to deal with it.

When your family causes you stress just consider life without them. Be grateful for what you have, for the people in your life and the blessings that come with them. That mindset will help some stress disappear and make living with the stress that remains easier.

The cemeteries are full of formerly stressed out people who I’d bet would be the first to tell you that none of their stress inducing events really mattered at the end.

Take a lesson from them and relax a bit, enjoy the stressful parts of life because even the most stressful day is better than no day at all.

7 thoughts on “Don’t Stress Over Stress

  1. Steve Borek says:

    Sometimes I stress over a situation where I have no control or want something to happen in my timeframe. In the end, I usually laugh at myself because whatever I was worried about wasn’t what I thought or everything turned out fine.

    Now when I notice stress starting to take hold, I smile. Simply smiling changes my entire mood. It works every time.

    Do I sound like a crazy person? 🙂

    • Smile – it’s one of the best principles from Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It’s pretty darn tough to have a bad attitude or be stressed when YOU decide to put a smile on your face 🙂

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