I’m dating myself here, but I remember having to write some of my essays in high school on a typewriter. Then computers came along and changed everything. They promised to make our lives easier. All one has to do is look around to see that computers have changed every aspect of our lives from how we communicate, to how we shop, study, work and even train. Unfortunately, the one thing they have failed to do is reduce our stress.
In fact, they have made our lives more stressful.
Our uber-connected world has made competition fierce. Computers, smartphones and the Internet have helped to level the playing field for people working in countries that were considered third world nations just 40 years ago. One visit to Fiverr.com and you’ll have your pick of virtual assistants, graphic designers, and web designers offering their services for very affordable prices. That’s where I found my web guy, and he’s been with me for years now.
2020 has taken stress to a whole level. We’ve had the coronavirus, its lockdown, the bankruptcies, the protests, and as it’s an election year, Trump. As November approaches tensions. As far as I can see, it seems to be less of Trump-Biden election and more of a Trump-No-Trump election. Whether he stays in office or not, I have no doubt stress levels will run high on both sides.
How should we deal with it?
I’m not a wellness coach myself, but as I’m a productivity consultant (and previously a life coach), I have spent a lot of time helping people deal with stress as it’s an absolute productivity killer.
Experience has show me that there are four easy ways to deal with stress.
- Sports are your friend
Stress increases the level of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in our body, also know as “fight or flight” hormones. These have been hard-wired into our brains to protect us from immediate bodily hard and in times of danger. In our world, rarely do need to such hormones so in order to restore our body and mind to a calmer state we need a way of regulating these hormones. That’s where sports come in.
Sports release a whole host of chemicals and hormones into our blood stream that help us manage stress and boost happiness. Consistent vigorous exercise also allows for better sleep (naturally) and a better body. If all that’s not enough, just seeing your weight drop will do wonders for our self-esteem.
2. A good night’s sleep
Ryan Hurst, co-founder of GMB fitness, sleeps almost 10 hours a night. He’s not the only one. According to CNBC, Lebron James sometimes does the same and on those days he doesn’t get enough rest, he’ll try to sneak in a nap during the day.
A lack of sleep on the other hand is a significant cause of stress, just ask any mother of a new-born child. We aren’t machines. We have limits. We need a good night’s sleep to deal with the strains of life. One man in his forties told me he averaged four hours a night for more than 20 years. When I mentioned that to a sleep expert, he replied “He’s digging himself an early grave.”
How can we ensure we get a good night’s sleep? Here are a few tips. First, turn off all screens 30 minutes before going to bed. Reading a good book for just ten minutes before your head hits the pillow will do wonders for your sleep. Avoid caffeine late at night and take a bath before you get into bed will help.
3. Surround yourself with the right people
In my first book, iSucceed, I dedicate a chapter to people because I have seen firsthand the effects of what I like to call “the-birds-of-a-feather phenomenon.” Essentially, we tend to act like, talk like, even think like the people around us. There’s an expression that we would do well to remember when it comes to stress and it’s this – misery loves company. That’s why you see the same bunch of people going to bars to drink away their sorrow night after night. If you’re going to reduce stress, you need to fight fire with fire, or in this case, positivity.
Your mission is simple. Find people who aren’t stressed and spend more time with them. You’ll be surprised at the effect your support group will have on you.
4. Develop winning habits
Habits are those automatic actions we take day in and day out. Unfortunately, not all habits are created equal. There are habits that help us, and those that hinder us. It’s the latter ones we need to beware of as they are causing us stress without us even noticing. James Clear, in his excellent book, Atomic Habits, does a great job breaking habits down as well as how to establish winning ones. For those who don’t have the time to go through it, here’s my Cliff Notes.
Step 1: Analyze your daily habits
Step 2: Determine which are hindering you (eating too much)
Step 3: Take small actions that help lessen the strength they have on you (i.e. Trick your mind into thinking it’s eating the same amount of food by simply using smaller plates)
Step 4: Celebrate the victories (when you lose five pounds, buy yourself a new exercise shirt)
Step 5: Be patient (developing winning habits takes time)