So what do I mean by that – why does stress limit your options?

Yes, we often talk about how harmful stress is and I hardly meet anyone these days that has not been suffering from burnout. That is terrible! 

And we seem to be caught in a Catch-22, or at least on a hamster wheel, with no way out. The irony is, that stress itself makes it harder to find a solution and a way out because stress limits our options.

You probably know that stress is a threat response to something that is frightening or stressful. It’s a normal physiological reaction that was very useful on the Savannah where our ancestors had to fight or flee, eat or be eaten. But in today’s society, it’s less useful.

When you’re not in control

In fact, stress is often triggered in situations where we feel we are not in control. This is why Senior Executives in general have lower stress levels than Middle Management – not because they work less, but because they have more control, or a least they think they do.

When you’re stressed you’re less efficient, you’re less creative, and make bad decisions. And this is what I mean when I say that stress limits your options. Once stress is triggered, you are less able to find new solutions to a problem. When you’re in that fearful, reactive mode, you cannot see the options you actually have. 

And not only is stress often very unhelpful in today’s society, but we also often stay in that mode for a longer time. In fact, some people stay there almost all the time and that is when burnout will hit like a wall.

5 strategies to lower stress and regain a sense of control

Let me share 5 strategies that will lower your stress and open up to new options:

  1. Find your focus – stay present a do one thing at a time. Finish one task before you move on to the next
  2. Get your priorities right – pick the one most important task on your to-do-list and work on that
  3. Learn how to set boundaries – when you learn how to say NO, you will be able to say yes to the things that are really important
  4. Let go of the idea that you have to be in control – it’s just an illusion anyway. Focus on what is the best solution right now
  5. Take a deep breath!

Yes, taking deep, conscious breaths instantly calms you down and you will be able to respond to an event, rather than react. You will be smarter, more creative, and more productive. You will get more options!

Practice taking deep conscious breaths maybe 10-20 times a day, or whenever you need it. Yes, you should really be with the breath, give it your full attention for the full inhale-exhale. Notice the shift!

So, don’t let stress limit your options – practice conscious breathing and regain your control + you will feeeeeel so much better!

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