Stress Case or Badass?

Is stress inevitable?

Is stress a by-product of our modern world?

If you think so, watch out!

Dr. Derek Roger may throw the bullshit flag at you for that (what’s a bullshit flag?).

Along with co-author Nick Petrie, Roger has poured 30 years of ground breaking research into a book titled—Work Without Stress: Building a Resilient Mindset for Lasting Success (find on Amazon here). The authors theorize that “stress is not a natural response.” In fact, they go a step further to discuss how stress is a choice.

To repeat . . . Stress is a CHOICE!

When we become a stress case, we are making a choice to be stressed out. Granted, we may not be consciously deciding to be stressed, but we are choosing habits and reactions that create stress. We choose stress whenever we worry, agonize or fret over a project, task or conversation instead of using a rational approach to doing something about it. Maybe this isn’t actually news to you. Maybe you’ve heard all about techniques and methods of stress management. Let’s be honest, they’ve been around for years and years and years. What might be news is we have the capacity to quickly shift our relationship with stress by reframing what we think it is.

Turning to Roger and Petrie, let’s examine how to define pressure and stress:

A demand to perform. The demand may be intense, but there is no stress inherent in the pressure. The key here is to be resilient and wise enough to NOT turn pressure into stress.

Example: You wake up late because you forgot to set an alarm. You accept you’ll be late, make a call to apologize and to troubleshoot how to make things workout as best as possible. Then you quickly and mindfully get ready. Then you breathe deep and drive responsibly to work.

A demand to perform with the addition of rumination and emotional upset.

Example: You wake up late because you forgot to set an alarm. You fret over the consequences and begin to imagine horrible things and worse-case-scenarios. You slam toast in your mouth and try to dress and brush your teeth at the same time. You race recklessly to work while talking on the phone with your co-workers.

When you miss a call or a deadline when you’re late, can you accept what happened? Or do you get filled with guilt, shame, anger or fear?

Stress comes from ruminating on pressure and manufacturing all sorts of unproductive emotional baggage into the scenario. According to the authors of Work Without Stress, “You’re not genetically programmed to ruminate.

And, may I add, you ARE genetically programmed to take action once you feel pressure.
Here’s another sound bite that might kick you in the pants: Stress is never good for us. It makes life shorter and more miserable.

So what do the good doctor and his friend suggest? Try these four steps:

  1. Wake up. In other words, take time to be present, connect to your senses and see the opportunity in each situation.
  2. Control Attention. Be an observer of what’s real and what is actually happening. When emotion occurs, don’t become involved in overwhelm. Instead, try my “2 – Minutes to become a Badass” exercise (learn more here)
  3. Become Detached. Approach your work with high intent and low attachment to outcomes. Focus on why you do what you do more than the results of what you do.
  4. Let Go. Be flexible, keep perspective and practice the art of letting go versus clinging to unnecessary emotions and worry.

One final word of wisdom and research based-knowledge:

Emphasize building your resilience. Resilience isn’t simply how quickly you can bounce back. It is also how well you can pull your own bullshit flag on yourself. Stress is pressure with rumination and emotion added.
When you feel pressure . . . ACT.  When you feel stress, see it for what it is and choose NOT to get involved.

Learn more about Stress Management using self-help techniques via here.