There’s a lot out there about stress management. And with good reason. Many of the organizations I work with have noticed that their leaders are suffering from burnout or are languishing (sense of emptiness, stagnation, ennui).

Maybe this is you; maybe it’s not. The Great Resignation has driven people to quit and look for new jobs. Our pandemic influenced world creates decision fatigue and adjustment to ever-changing work-life scenarios. All of this and more contributes to our stress levels.

First, a question: what is your mindset about stress? 

Knowing your stress mindset is key. We might not even know we have a stress mindset. It may change depending on the cause of the stress. The stress of stepping into a new promotion or moving in with someone may have a different flavor for you than dealing with health or financial issues.

Some might say there’s good stress and bad stress. Ultimately, stress is just a signal that we perceive we don’t have the resources to deal with something in the way that we want. Well, that’s pretty basic. Stress = a signal that there’s a lack of resources to handle something. These resources can be external (time, money, people) or internal (skillset, self-confidence, energy).

When the gas light goes on in a car, it’s letting us know we need more gas. It’s a signal to fill the tank. Nothing more; nothing less. Let’s break it down.

Stress comes in two main flavors: 

  1. Underlying Causes: low-grade anxiety, consistent, from our processes and habits (or lack thereof) and our environment
  2. Acute Causes: specific situations, people, topics, triggers

We all experience stress to varying degrees. How can we set ourselves up for success?

We can tweak our environment, habits, and systems to lower our anxiety. Even a teeny tiny shift over time can decrease our anxiety levels exponentially. Earlier this week I talked about a few little actions I’ve taken in my car to support my stress level when driving.

We can also grow our resources so we have a greater capacity to manage the stress. We’ve heard it a million times because it’s true: exercise, meditation, sleep, nutrition all support our body’s capacity to handle stress when it occurs.

So how can we lower our stress without adding more to our plate (creating more stress)?  

Here’s a checklist to review. Carve out 20 minutes to ask yourself these questions and write down what comes to mind.

  • Notice what stresses you out. (situations, people, topics, systems, environments)

  • Look at your stress mindset. What’s working for you? What’s not? What might support a more empowered mindset around stress?

  • What are you not accepting/resisting in your life?

  • What are your priorities? Your ‘NOT’ priorities?

  • Where can you say no? Where will you say no?

  • What can you let go of?

  • What values feel missing in your life? Where can you shift to bring them into your life?

  • What are you grateful for?

Because there’s no one size fits all, only you can know what one thing will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Pick one action (bonus points for making it an easy teeny tiny micro-step).

To learn more about how Emotional Intelligence coaching and trainings could benefit you and your organization, click here.