Recently, one of these headlines catched my eye where it’s stipulated that people in Western Europe are getting fatter and fatter and that this trend is mostly related to stress. Many of you feel permanently stressed and this is particularly noticeable these days as you are finishing your last tasks before the end of the year.
Is there a recipe to fight stress and to get into a more relaxed state of mind? I will challenge this question by raising another one: Is stress inevitably something negative we have to fight?
Wouldn’t it be great to turn around our perception and management of stress instead of desperately trying to avoiding it?
If you carefully look back at your life, the most beautiful times are intimately connected with stress – it is the motor of life. Just think about the stress you feel when suddenly falling in love: you ponder, are restless, you communicate and improvise. Plans are made, meetings are arranged, which bring with them a whole new dimension of stress. The same happens when you are having a baby or when you are moving to an exciting new place. The greatest happiness is pure stress over a long period of time!
Stress allows for new starts, providing us with the energy we need to take risks.
This also applies in the work environment: If you want to avoid mental stress, you need a job that you don't care about. However, work is fun only when it is relevant, but this also carries the risk of failure and that does not happen without stress. To turn your feeling of being a victim of 'negative' stress into the kind of 'positive' stress mentioned above you need to reach out for something exciting at work and get out of your comfort zone.
However, something powerful is standing in our way: It’s called the fear zone. Do you sometimes catch yourself finding excuses why you cannot do this or that, or getting affected by negative opinions of others? Both might be enabled by a lack of self-confidence and courage to try something new. But staying in your comfort zone can put you into a permanent stress situation which is not satisfying over time.
Seeking for learning and growth
If you have difficulties to get out of your comfort zone it is helpful to genuinely acknowledge that there is a fear zone behind. Analyze for yourself what exactly you are afraid of and then make a plan how to get over this fear. You can, for example, focus on acquiring new skills, connecting to people you don’t know yet and opening up your spirit for new experiences. When you do this systematically you will reach the learning zone where you will feel more and more comfortable.
This enables you to go for the last and most exiting step, which is reaching the growth zone. The growth zone is a rich and vibrant place where you enable yourself to live for a purpose and to start pursuing with focus the things you really care about.
What if I am too stressed and don’t have time for that?
The annoying side effect of stress is that it maintains itself pretty well as it goes hand in hand with having no time to do anything new. Time is a limited resource and staying longer and longer at the office has its limits. Instead of managing your time I propose you start with some really useful habits to manage your energy:
Pure stress avoidance is a discouraging self-occupation, at the end of which there is inevitably not the promised security, but depressive contemplation. When you start enjoying learning and growth and are able to manage your energy, you can live your life to its fullest!