How to Stress Better

Are you one of the 75% adults who experience moderate to high stress levels on an almost daily basis? On a scale from 1 to 10, what do you think is your average stress level in the course of a week? If it is above 5, this week’s Empowerment Radio episode is for you.

There are of course, different forms of stress. There is acute stress, which is the activation of the fight and flight response when are we are facing immediate threats. This form of stress is usually short-lived and lasts around 90 minutes. Then there is chronic stress, which, like the background noise of the refrigerator, we often ignore. Chronic stress occurs just by us trying to keep manage our increasingly busy and demanding lives. Then there is distress, which can also be a daily occurrence, but it is more associated with bigger life challenges, like divorce, financial worries or work difficulties. Lastly, there is eustress or positive form of stress, which is triggered by exciting changes, such as a marriage, a promotion or the arrival of a baby.

While our mind-body system is very well equipped to handle acute stress, it is the chronic stress that makes stress-related illnesses the most common cause of death in most Western countries. But even though stress has become a rather normal part of life – like noise pollution, junk food or traffic jams – when it comes to managing or avoiding stress, most people feel rather helpless.  

Whether you are dealing with pressure at work, challenges with your kids or worry about your finances, you probably have your fair share of chronic stress. And while everybody tells you that you should exercise, meditate or take up yoga to destress, you can’t find the time or motivation to put another item onto your to-do list. But what if there is a way to significantly reduce stress the moment it comes up – not by fighting it, but by welcoming it? What if you could learn how to understand the intention of your stress and utilize its information and energy to make your life even better? 

My special guest on Empowerment Radio this Thursday is coach and business consultant Arch Fuston, who will share with us his revolutionary approach on how to manage stress.

Here is one of the stress-reducing techniques he is teaching:

“It could be an email. It could be a comment. Or silence. Or a look. Any number of perceived adversities can trigger panic, aka, the threat-response.

” The following quick resilience techniques are resources for dealing with life’s adversities in real-time. When catastrophic thoughts hit, we don’t have to accept them as truths – we can challenge them in three ways:

1. ALTERNATIVES

“What if I freak out during my speech? I’ll look like a fraud, I’ll get fired and be a failure.”

Instead of continuing with this mode of thinking, ask yourself:
 “There’s a more accurate way to view this adversity.”

Then think about an alternative optimistic perspective on giving a speech. For example: 
“Sure, public speaking can be intimidating, what you’re feeling is expected. But you’re prepared, you know what you’re talking about, and the audience will be excited to hear about it. It’s an hour of your life, that’s all, but it’s also an opportunity to share your knowledge with people and hopefully have a positive impact on them.”

2. EVIDENCE

“I made a mistake, I’m an idiot and a fraud.”

Instead of continuing this mode of thinking, tell yourself:
 “That’s not true because…” (fill this in with a more supportive and real perspective).

Be specific with your reasons that disprove the thought. For example: 
“That’s not true, I’m successful far more than not and mistakes don’t make me a fraud, they make me human. I’ll learn from it, not as a motivation to keep me from getting fired, but to better myself.”

3. IMPLICATIONS

“I was late to a meeting, my boss is going to fire me.”

Instead of continuing with this mode of thinking, tell yourself:
“A more likely outcome is… and I can…”

Then re-frame with a more realistic, rational outcome and an approach-based action. For example: 
“A more likely outcome is they’ll be disappointed, but I can own it and take active measures to be more cognizant of my schedule in the future.” Repeat as needed.

Some of our catastrophic thinking is due to our perceived inability to handle an assumed consequence of the adversity. When we let your catastrophic thoughts control our self-talk, we’re at the mercy of our emotions. Don’t believe everything you think. If it elicits a fear response, question it. Unless your life is in danger. Then respond in accordance with how our biology intended.

But keep in mind, your stress is here to help you – even if it may not feel like it. Stress is preparing you to take on a challenge. So welcome the feeling, use it for your advantage as it is priming you for greatness.”

Tune below and learn how you can manage your stress with greater ease. I always look forward to your comments.

Facing Stress with Confidence: Empowerment Radio 061 Part 1
Limiting beliefs – the roots of stress: Empowerment Radio 061 Part 3
How to grow from stress with Arch Fuston: Empowerment Radio 061 Part 2
3 steps to switch from stress to empowerment with Arch Fuston: Empowerment Radio 061 Part 4

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