4 Ways to Tame the Stress Monster

Stress isn’t a germ you catch from an uncovered sneeze.

Stress isn’t a thing. Scientists examine the results of stress, but they can’t examine stress itself.

Stress is a monster that rises inside you.

if you feel relaxed when the house is on fire it's probably not your house


4 ways to tame the stress monster:

#1. Understand stress.

Stress is deadly because it’s cumulative.

A friend of mine in banking notices that people are losing it more quickly these days. When you’re stressed about politics, racism, job security, and a pandemic, small things light you up.

You’re stressed because you:

  1. Care but aren’t sure what to do.
  2. Feel responsible but powerless. If you feel relaxed when the house is on fire, its probably not your house.
  3. Try to control things beyond your control.

Stress is inside you, not out there.

#2. Find your power.

Feeling weak is stressful.

Stress is about what you CAN’T do. Power is about what you CAN do.

The ability to choose is at the heart of feeling powerful.

The most important choices are about attitude and response. There are always choices.

#3. Choose how to show up.

Stress is your powerless self saying, “I can’t.”

Show up to care. What does your caring self tell you to do next?

Show up with empathy. How might you show empathy to others? You might be surprised to know that empathy for others lowers stress in you.

#4. Choose to connect.

Stress hates it when you connect with others. I’m learning to seek advice from many sources when the stress monster grips my thinking.

The problem with advice – when you’re stressed – is it usually sounds stupid.

Stress makes you stupid. While stressed, the creative part of your brain shuts down. The best you have are fight, flight, or freeze.

Pay attention when trusted advisors say, “You don’t want to do that.”

Stress invites you to matter less.

What stresses you out?

What suggestions might you offer for taming the stress monster?

Bonus material:

8 Tips for Dealing with the Stress of Leadership (CCL)

10 Ways Strong Leaders Manage Stress (ManagerSkills)

How Chronic Stress Changes the Brain – and What you can do to Reverse the Damage (TheConversation)