Two Simple Things You Can do to De-Stress

Photo credit: Masmo Relsig, Creative Commons License

Photo credit: Masmo Relsig, Creative Commons License

Too much on your plate? Feeling overwhelmed? Stressed out at the end of the day?

Yes, me too! I’ve got some bad news and some good news.

First the bad news.

  •  We generally don’t lead well in this state. It’s hard for our brains to access the creative, wise, thoughtful parts when it feels under siege with all this stress. For more on this, check out Rick Hanson’s work
  • Our relationships can suffer. Stress leaves us tired, grumpy and not much fun to be with. Our health also can suffer from too much cortisol, adrenalin, etc.

Now the good news.

We may not be able to change the things that stress us – that deadline isn’t going away. But we can change our state. Here are two tools that I’ve found helpful. (Actually, I chose to write about this today because I need to remember to use these tools frequently these days.)

  1.  Practice frequent centering.
    I take time to build the “muscle” of centering myself through daily practice. This gets my day off to a better start and helps me develop my capacity to access this more centered place. Then when I notice stress or anxiety escalating, I can take a minute to bring myself back to the present moment with a quick centering exercise. (Of course, sometimes I may be too stressed to realize I need to do this…) There are lots of phone apps to help. My favorite is Mindfulness Daily. For more resources visit the resource page on my website.
  2.  Focus on what you can impact.
    Sometimes part of what stressed me out is the things I can’t really impact. I get focused on those and it just feels worse. Instead, when I can consciously turn my attention to the aspects of the situation where I believe I can make a difference, it helps my brain turn down the alarm bells. This shift is easier if you have someone you trust who can gently remind you to do this, maybe a mentor, coach or trusted friend.

Do these things come easily for me? Not really! It takes conscious attention to apply these tools. And when I can do these things more consistently, my leadership is stronger and my life is better.

I'd love to hear your practices for handling stress and overwhelm. Please drop me a note, I'd love to hear from you.