A few months back I wrote a post “What’s the Big Idea for 2013” and the central theme of that topic was about beating stress! Did you know that April is /was National Stress Awareness Month? As meeting professionals you were probably too busy or stressed to notice! But I think it’s worth some reflection.
In my own journey, I find awareness to be of utmost importance to stress reduction. I need a trigger or a signal that tells me, “I’m under distress!” so that I can make a choice about what I’m going to DO about it, right then and there! Earlier this month, Carolyn Gregoire of The Huffington Post talked about “Stress Myths: 9 Common Misconceptions About Causes, Symptoms & Treatment”. I pulled out three that I thought were particularly interesting.
#1 Stress Is a Motivator
“We often view a little stress as a good thing. After all, it’s said that pre-exam jitters push us to study harder, and moderate work stress instills a desire to succeed. But is stress really what’s motivating us in these situations? Andrew Bernstein, author of “The Myth of Stress,” explains to Psychology Today that stimulation and engagement (i.e. setting goals or tackling new projects) is actually what motivates us, not stress. He says stress is simply the swirl of negative emotions on top of stimulation and engagement. “If you’re successful and stressed out, you’re succeeding in spite of your stress, not because of it,” he told the publication.”
Being clear about what drives us to get things done is an important distinction, especially since we throw the word “stress” around frequently.
#2 Stress Is Unavoidable
“Despite what many believe, feeling stressed isn’t inevitable. While we don’t have the power to prevent stressful situations from occurring, we can control our reactions to them. The practice of mindfulness — cultivating focused awareness on the present moment — has been shown to lessen stress reactions and decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol. “Become aware of what your triggers are,” Hall advises. “Being aware lets you become more stress-resilient because you can prepare” to deal with stressors.”
“It is what it is” is an important recognition which allows me to then move on to focus on what I can do about it.
# 3 Stress Is An Attribute of Successful People
“Unfortunately, we live in a culture that associates stress with productivity. Therefore, we assume that successful people are stressed out — and that if they weren’t, they would be slacking. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. “Stress shouldn’t mean that you’re worth more, or that you have a higher status because you work longer,” Hall shares. “[Overworking] really means that something’s wrong — not that something is right.”
It’s good to know that stress doesn’t have to come with the territory. So let’s extend our awareness of stress not just for a month, but in our everyday lives so that we can become empowered to do something about it.