Some guys try to tough through stress instead of managing it. They think it’s the manly thing to do. They’re afraid to appear weak. If this sounds familiar, this post is for you.
Stress is a part of everyday life. It’s our body’s natural reaction to life’s difficulties. Stress can have positive effects and help us grow as individuals and leaders. However, too much stress can cripple even the toughest Soldier. If you’re tough enough, keep scrolling to learn 15 strategies conquer stress and live a happier life.
1) Think positively and surround yourself with positive people. Check out this article by James Clear where he explains How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills, Boosts Your Health, and Improves Your Work
2) Stop being so hard on yourself. Some tasks are too big. Call on your battle buddies for help or change your thoughts.
3) Set reasonable priorities at the beginning of each day. Sometimes you just need to let go. Check out this video by Brian Tracy:[youtube id=”TBa68zfvoeg”]
4) Keep a very simple journal each day using short bullet points. Not only is it an easy habit to maintain because it’s short, but it is great to look through and reflect after some time has passed.
5) Eat healthy & natural foods. I’ve become a believer in the paleo/primal diet and highly recommend checking out MarksDailyApple.com for research based articles on health and fitness. Or if you’re the book type check out The Paleo Solution or The Primal Blueprint.
6) Get enough sleep each night. Think back to how you felt last time you got a solid night’s sleep. Turns out, sleep is important for our body and mind. Get enough sleep. Not only will you be rested, but you’ll be more productive too.
7) Exercise regularly. Your body will thank you, but your mind will too. This article discusses at least 13 mental health benefits of exercise.
8) Learn to say NO. It’s easy to say yes and place everyone’s priorities before our own. But, constantly saying yes decreases time to focus on our projects and priorities increasing our stress. Michael Hyatt shares some great advice at the bottom of this article: How to say no when you feel pressured to say yes.
9) Confide in your battle buddy. The military knows the importance of having a battle buddy or a wing-man. Not only are they there to give you back-up, they are there to hold you accountable and become your conscience. This post by Jeff Sanders goes through a basic checklist you can discuss with your accountability partner.
10) Admit when your wrong, and move on. Too often we equate admitting failure to being a failure. However, holding on to a false reality increases stress. To relieve this stress, we have to admit our shortcomings and failures. Often this requires an apology. This article from Psychology Today gives you the full rundown of How To Admit You’re Wrong. Then, move on!
11 & 12) Laugh hard each day & schedule time to play. Watching little kids play, you can easily see the power of laughter and playing. They naturally get exercise (see #7 above) and release dopamine into their bodies. Dopamine is the “happy hormone” that fights the stress causing cortisol. Laughing increases the flow of oxygen into the bloodstream and brain. Several studies indicate the powerful stress relief linked to laughter.
13) Divide large tasks into smaller, easier to accomplish tasks. We’ve all been overwhelmed looking at a big project. Sometimes it’s tough to see the trees in the forest. David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done, discusses using a “Next Actions” list. This simple list helps you to identify and complete only the next action on a project. It helps you focus on moving closer to your goal by taking 1-2 steps instead of looking at how far away the goal is.
Here’s an example. I hate running, but love how I feel when the run is over. If I get up in the morning and think about going for a two-mile run, I am more likely to roll over and push it until later in the day. Using the Next Action approach helps me get out for my run. When my alarm goes off, my one next action is to get out of bed. After that, put on the running clothes I left out the night before. Once my clothes are on, I have no excuse not to run.
14) Look at the big picture. I know this seems counter intuitive considering #13. Hang with me. How many times have you been so focused on the tasks in front of you that you forgot the big picture. This happens to me more than I’d care to admit. I can get so focused on helping the kids get their homework done, making dinner, and running to our different activities that it’s easy to forget why I’m doing all this. It’s really helpful to take a moment and realize my WHY. I’m not just a chef and chauffeur. I’m a dad trying to raise wonderful children who will grow up to be amazing people.
15) Take a deep breath. There is nothing like a long deep breath. It immediately calms the nerves and helps refocus the mind. A few weeks back when I was working on the 20x Your Potential challenge, I was reminded of the power of breathing and conquering the mind.
Sometimes things will suck, and that’s okay. As long as you take a breath and refocus, you can overcome the next challenge.
[reminder]I shared my 15 strategies to conquer stress. What would you add?[/reminder]