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How to Demolish Stress and Become More Productive

When you're stressed do you vent, search for sympathy, sulk, or blame others? You need to know your own behavior pattern of handling stress to limit its impact on you.

If your exhaustion level is high and you are cranky, non-creative and confused, you are on your way to burnout.

Big question is how much stress is too much?

Here are 10 statements for you to ponder. To get an idea of your stress metrics just answer true or false:

  1. I have people resources available to talk with when I am down.
  2. I make sure to leave time for work-life balance.
  3. I get up rested and ready for the day.
  4. I think my work is meaningful.
  5. I am in control of my time each day.
  6. My work culture is collaborative.
  7. I handle conflict with ease.
  8. I get good acknowledgement for my leadership.
  9. I am proactive and rarely procrastinate.
  10. I know my career will remain successful.

Scoring: + 7 mostly true: You have a good handle on work stress

-7 mostly false: you need to get a coach and find out what is happening in your life

+5 or -5: You are in a position to figure out the one or two things that have you stressed. Coaching is a viable option although not mandatory.

Here are 3 ways to look at your stress indicators.

1. Addiction to pattern repetition: Tendency to replay stressful situations over and over. You love to keep going over what happened to see if you missed anything. Every time you do this stress indicators show up as if the situation is happening for the first time. Your heart beats faster, your hands may begin to sweat, your emotions are like a roller coaster. You see the situation as a disaster and the key here is your self-fulfilling prophecy. Inside your nervous system you simply wire the situation deeper and deeper, with the thousands of neurons that form your neural network. As neuropsychologist Donald Hebb said in 1949, “Neurons that fire together wire together.”

2. Addiction to worst case scenario: That is when every fallen tree branch in the forest is seen as a python bound to pounce on you and squeeze you to death. His is an addiction to awfulizing. You look at today’s bottom line and suddenly you are at the front, actually the back of a food line for your family. Or worse, your family has abandoned you because you are such a rotten business person. You begin to walk, always looking down, in the hopes of finding a penny, or if luck has it, a quarter. You know you will ultimately lose no matter how much you have been able to win. It’s your destiny.

3. Addiction to need to know: You check the stock reports hourly always hoping you can get some new insights. You bite your nails in worry if things stay the same, concerned you may have missed something. You search for your favorite horoscope to find out if it will help you plan ahead. You keep your head to the ground listening to see if you can detect the possibility of an earthquake, tornado or dry spell. You drive people nuts with your concerns about what will happen tomorrow and you are always looking at how you can get the news of tomorrow, today.

The best ways to demolish this type of exhausting stress is to do a deep dive into where they began. Hint: usually in childhood. You begin to connect the dots of why you need to keep repeating, go to worst case (or insane) need to know everything before it happens.

Mindfulness training is good and so is coaching, to help you find the seed pattern that set the stage for the stress to take on a life of its own inside you.

Don’t give up. Over the top stress diminishes the zest for life. There are tons of ways to make change happen. Here you are at the first stage of stress reduction by observing what sets you off so you can take charge of making the changes needed for a more joyful and productive life. 

Originally published on Inc

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