I struggle with managing stress. It’s a fight to keep my stress under control. The good news is that I can win this fight, and so can you. I frequently help clients learn to manage stress at both work and home. Here’s one of the tools I teach.
Step 1: Identify a Spark
I’m amazed at how after a fire destroys a structure the fire investigators can often trace the cause to a spark. They figure out the initial spark came from something specific like a malfunctioning appliance or faulty wiring. The same goes with forest fires that fire investigators trace to a single cigarette. Stress is caused by sparks as well.
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Types of Stress Sparks
Spark #1: Unhealthy Relationships
Are you spending too much time around toxic people at work? Are you spending most of your time around people with a victim mentality? Do your friends bring you down rather than build you up? Are you engaging in gossip and complaining because you hang around people who spark this type of behavior in you?
Spark #2: Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits
Is a lack of sleep the spark that causes your forest fire? Is a lack of exercise the cause? Maybe, eating a high fat lunch is what sparks your afternoon stress. Are chronic health issues that can be reversed part of the problem?
Spark #3: Negative Thinking Patterns (e.g. Worry)
- Focusing on your faults vs. remembering your strengths.
- Concentrating on being a victim of circumstances vs. taking personal responsibility for your success.
- Fixating on the worst case scenario (e.g. fear) vs. focusing on a positive outcome (e.g. hope).
- Focusing on the problems vs. focusing on the solutions.
Step 2: Apply a Solution
Identify one thing that you can do to extinguish that specific spark. Keep the solution simple. For example, if a critical boss is your spark, your solution could be to engage your boss in positive conversation each day. If you focus on people rejecting you when making sales call, then thinking of people buying from you could be your solution.
This sounds too simple right? Stress management is always simple; it’s the application while under stress that’s hard. The application under pressure is what separates the complainers from the problem solvers. The application is what separates the professionals from the amateurs.
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Question: What is one of your sparks? What is a simple solution you can apply?