For whatever reason, everyone and their mother is constantly stressed. I mean, who isn’t these days?! The thing about stress, is that it’s practically contagious. Think about it. When we’re around the anxious who can only complain about how stressed or how busy they are, chances are we naturally empathize with them and in doing so, feed into it. Journalist Oliver Burkeman vocalizes it clearly …
“The lasting way to beat stress is to understand how much stress results from trying to change things beyond your control.”
The theory behind it all, revolve around two unrealistic, and stress-inducing beliefs. The first, according to Burkeman, is that it’s possible to get EVERYTHING done. Clearly, somedays, this is just not at all possible. Once every blue moon, we do have the the incredibly rare days when we check every single thing off our to-do list. Naturally, we proceed to check things off our list by prioritizing them in order of importance, or which problems we want to solve first, for example. The second unrealistic belief, according to Burkeman, is that we can CONTROL things that we can’t.
“You can control your own actions, and sometimes thoughts, but that’s about it. If you decide that you must change others’ behavior, or what they think of you, stress will result.”
A few things we can try on a daily basis:
- Stop trying to block out feelings of stress with fake positivity. (Sometimes telling yourself you’re ok will only make things worse). Instead -- take action! DO something positive to get out of the funk!
- Re-phrase your To-Do list … Focus on what you can control. Try to make sure every item on your list contains a physical verb: “phone Emily,” “go online and look for a job,” “drive to grocery store.” Often times, If we can’t find a concrete verb, it’s a sign that what’s on our list is beyond our control.
- Distract yourself with something creative. If only for a moment, try to fully occupy your mind with something else. Find that one song that puts you in a better mental state, or try working on a crossword puzzle for 10 minutes in between conference calls. Obviously we don’t want to “waste” our day with mundane things, but giving our minds a change of pace will be worth it in the long run.