Saturday, August 2, 2008

10 Tips to Turn Stress to Success

10 Tips to Turn Stress to Success
This is a guest article by David Bohl.
If you know someone who doesn’t experience stress, they’re probably not human. We stress over our finances, relationships, health, and careers or businesses. We get stressed when things don’t go our way and we are not getting the results we want. We experience stress when we feel rushed and we run out of time to do all that we want to do. What causes you to feel stressed?
Of course, there’s good stress and bad stress. Good stress is when you’re stretching beyond your comfort zone and taking risks. You feel discomfort, while also feeling good about doing new things and taking new paths. Bad stress causes anguish, negative emotions, and oftentimes physical problems like pain, headaches, ulcers, and worse.
What I’ve noticed, however, is that some people can have the same experiences and not feel as stressed as others. So I wonder: Is stress an automatic reaction or can it be a conscious choice? Think about that as you consider some of these 10 tips to turn stress to success:
1. Choose your attitude.
How you react to stress is a choice you make. You either react or act. See what’s causing you stress and look for the pluses rather than minuses. That person who cut you off on the freeway and caused you to be five minutes late to work, could have prevented you from getting into the traffic accident that happened five minutes earlier. Choose the attitude and thoughts that give you the most power–they’re usually the positive, productive ones.

2. Master your energy.
Stress takes a toll on our bodies, so learning to master your energy can help keep you alert to stressful situations. The minute you feel yourself reacting, stop what you’re doing and take five, slow, deep breaths. This will calm your mind and body and put you in a position to make a choice about how you want to respond to the stressful situation.

3. Stay healthy.
If your body is well nourished and well rested, you are less likely to react to stressful situations. Often our reactive mode is fueled by being tired, hungry, on a sugar or caffeine high, or just being in poor health. Get regular health check ups, drink water throughout the day, and eat a healthy diet of fresh foods and free of overly processed foods. Get enough sleep and exercise regularly to maintain optimum health.

4. Take time outs.
During the typical work day, you need to take mental breaks so you don’t burn out. A mind that is on 24/7 is a prime candidate for stressful reactions. If you’re at work and notice you start to go blank or are attempting to do 10 things at once, give yourself a time out. You’ll come back with a clearer mind and your work efforts will be more productive.

5. Gain perspective.
If you can pull yourself out of the stressful situation and see the bigger picture, you may be able to avoid falling into the reactive trap. Maybe Jack got promoted instead of you, but you really had your eye on a different career path, so let go and move on. Don’t get so attached to outcomes, or you’ll continually be stressed when life doesn’t meet your expectations.

6. Balance work and play.
When you take time out to play, you come back to work renewed. The body and brain need variety and stimulation. With the appropriate balance, you’ll be much less likely to get stressed out when you hit roadblocks. Do activities you enjoy like hobbies, travel, laughing, movies, being with friends and family.

7. Follow your passions.
If you’re not doing work you love, chances are your stress level may be pretty high. Some people may feel stuck in their careers and don’t see how they can pursue their dream job or business. It may not be feasible now, but sit down with a coach and plan your exit strategy. You deserve to spend your 40+ hours/week doing work you love and serving others with your talents.

8. Know what calms you.
It’s important to have some built-in stress reduction activities so if you find yourself over the top with stress, you’ll know how to calm down. Some people enjoy deep breathing or meditation, while others soak in a warm aromatherapy-scented bath or enjoy a deep massage.

9. Have support and love in your life.
We all need to be surrounded by positive, supportive, loving people or we will wither up. Make sure plenty of these types of people are around you, and reduce the number of negative types. If you’re experiencing great stress, you need someone to talk to.

10. Be on a growth path.
Anything that is not growing is stagnant or dying. Continue to work with a coach, journal your feelings, read inspiring books, take growth-oriented seminars, and be aware of your stress responses. Most important of all, practice self love. You are the most important person in your life, so take good care of yourself.