Stress is a Choice
I had my day planned. Flying on an 8.00 am flight from Nelson to Auckland and then out to Sydney on a 1pm flight. Plenty of time or so I thought. Unusually though, Nelson was fogged in and planes were sitting on the tarmac waiting. There was nothing that could be done and I observed with interest those around me with connecting flights, meetings or places they needed to be. Stress levels were rising. The airport was packed and everyone had to wait.
The Medical Journal Today suggests there are two things to consider; being stressed and stressors. A ‘stressor’ is an agent or stimulus that causes stress. Stress is the feeling we have when under pressure, while stressors are the things we respond to in our environment.
Examples of stressors are noises, unpleasant people, a speeding car, or fogged-in planes. Generally (but not always), the more stressors we experience, the more stressed we feel. The definition of stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
So what does that actually mean and how does it show up on a daily basis?
Our patterns of behaviour indicate our levels of stress. There are in my opinion, 4 patterns when it comes to stress:
1. On the treadmill – burn out, foggy mind
2. Inner health – not listening to what’s really going on inside, leading to potential health issues
3. Cluttered mind – fills our space and makes it difficult to stop and breathe
4. Environmental triggers that we react to that produces the “stress” in other words giving us the message to do something differently.
AND we tend to we wait until something major happens in our business world, personal relationships or health to do anything about it. We call it the Mack Truck approach.
We are aware of our stresses but we are unsure of how to break the pattern of behaviour. There is so much research out there on stress, what it is and some advice on how to “de-stress.”
But if it was that easy then why are so many of us still living with the symptoms and being continually tested by the stressors?
Here’s my take on what it’s all really about – we choose to be stressed. Bold statement but here’s the thing, the single reason we have stress is because of our belief structure around what it is we are stressed about.
For example, if we take someone who is a hard-working, good employee, she is conscientious and is often the person who is seen to be taking on additional tasks and responsibilities all the time. She goes beyond the call of duty in her role. She also does this outside of work – she is the one who communities love – she takes on roles in the community projects, local school PTAs and manages sports teams. She does most of the things around the house and although exhausted will always put the needs of others before herself.
On the inside though, she has a feeling of discontent. Time is her biggest fear and it’s the lack of time for herself that is the real issue. She looks to external environmental things (the stressors) to give her satisfaction but it doesn’t work. All it does is cement her view that she needs to do more and more. When she gets to… it will be easier. But it never does. Her mind is cluttered and her inner health is slowly deteriorating.
So how does she actually shift the behaviour?
It’s too easy to say:
From tomorrow don’t take on any extra tasks
From tomorrow delegate jobs around the house to family
From tomorrow step down from some community activity
The reality is while it may happen for one day, it won’t last long before the old patterns creep in. Mindset plays such a BIG role in how we feel, think and act.
Jane needs to understand what caused her to want to do more and more and look back at the patterns of this behaviour over her lifetime. There will be an event or events that trigger this thought process. This is what needs to be unpacked and shifted at a deeper layer. When you can identify the source of the behaviour you get clarity.
When you unpack the reasons why you do it time and time again, you acquire focus and you start to recalibrate your behavioural patterns you get purpose.
I also believe that stress will continue to play a significant role in business until we focus on giving people access to tools that actually work.
So if you are feeling stressed, or have been feeling unsettled, or have a mind full of clutter, perhaps it’s time to unpack the behaviours and shift them for good.
Maybe it’s time to have a mindset that gives you clarity, focus and purpose.
It’s also time for me to regenerate my weekly thoughts. If you’re like me, I receive a lot of these in my in-box weekly. So I have been working on some new things – it’s all about regeneration of ourselves and our work.
BUT don’t panic – I know some of you love these so I am going to still write in this format, just less often AND some other exciting things will be revealed.
Thanks to those of you who send me comments, I love hearing about what’s going on in your world. And as always, leave them here.
Until next time…
PS I made the international flight connection to Sydney by sprinting in my heels and bag from the Domestic to International terminal with the doors closing behind me. Talk about stress but I chose to run. Phew!