Root Cause of Stress
Stress is due to uncertainty (about future or about way to proceed), which comes from lack of clarity on current situation.
It can be financial or work related, it can be about big business decisions, it may be due to poor communication with people or a misunderstanding with a partner, or emotional such us lack of relationship and/or love.
Stress manifests in various ways – some clear and obvious, others rather subtle. For example I wasn’t enjoying social interactions (friends or events) or when learning new things (cooking class). I was also drinking 3+ cups of coffee per day, overeating, overall not being sharp and full of energy, and feeling certain state of helplessness.
Stress can also be much more serious and manifest itself as a very heavy depression or even suicidal thoughts, mainly due to powerlessness. The struggle with money and people can be really draining.
When something like that happened to me, I eventually realized that there is no magic key and I needed to keep working on myself: learn my lessons and create something of value, ie. pay even greater price in terms of time, energy, and money.
All those realizations took me away from the bad thoughts, which I had to acknowledge and accept to move pass them. This is a very important step, step #1 – I can’t stress it enough.
If you don’t feel happy by default, at all times, despite how bad do you think it is (being broke or sick), you’ve got some work to do.
After you’ve spent some time on personal development and seemingly nothing has changed in your life, yet you actually feel happy, grateful for life opportunity and admire the beauty of the world, you are on the right track.
Consider the size of the mountain in front of you. Sometimes it appears tiny, other times it is huge. The size of the mountain is always the same. It is only your perception that changes.
At this point you have a solid action plan (creating and delivering value), and you trust and believe that anything that happens, happens for a good reason (soon or eventually).
See, the way to live life without stress is to feel certain about the future. You have to do your best to design and create your own future (ie. be proactive vs. reactive). When you provide genuinely good value, things will align to support you. I know this for sure.
Stress Relief in 7 steps
The first step to overcoming stress is to actually realize and acknowledge that you are stressed. Then make a strong decision to change that. You can say a positive affirmation to yourself, such as:
I know I am going through challenging times right now, but I am strong, intelligent and persistent; I can and I will get through this. I will make my life amazing and beautiful.
Step two is to take a day to do something nice for yourself, have few moments of bliss, and relax as much as possible. Try to make the “something” healthy and empowering. Reflect on your body for a moment, feel what hurts and how, what is the emotion, what is missing. Then give it to yourself to your best ability. You may want to write all this down.
The idea here is to get your mind ready for thinking clearly and constructively, so you can act with enthusiasm, creativity and positive action.
Step number three is take your time and get absolutely clear on what you REALLY WANT. Be careful not to slip into the area of what you don’t want – focus on what you DO WANT. What is the best-case scenario, the ideal situation – think like anything is possible!
Step four is to eliminate uncertainty right now. Research whether someone has already dealt with similar dilemma and documented it on the web or in a book. Study all related options, solutions, biographies, success stories and if possible seek an expert who can guide you through it.
Sometimes you can remove uncertainty by making a simple phone call or having an open and honest conversation with someone. Quick tip: talk in the “I-language”: “I feel hurt when…”, “I feel neglected when…”, or “I feel misunderstood when…”
Optional step five is to think about your worst-case scenario, make a contingency plan, really prepare for it the best you can (eg. have backup and required tools), and be absolutely mentally ready to execute that plan. Then realize that your worst-case didn’t happen yet, so you can let go of worrying about it; however, now you are fully prepared to handle it.
When I was ready to file for bankruptcy, aside from doing thorough research and organizing all my paperwork I mentally let go of all my current possessions and various benefits.
Step number six is to contrive a long-term solution, plan, or purpose (step 2 & 3) so that this uncertainty doesn’t happen again. It is very important to be ready to follow it, even if it means sacrificing certain things (social meet-ups, unhealthy foods, unhealthy habits, etc).
Also prepare your work environment for action (declutter and dust-off surfaces, organize your desk, get healthy food and snacks, put on your favourite/relaxing/action music).
Start! Follow the plan not matter what. Just do it, even for 2 minutes. This tiny progress will magically shift your mind into a productive state and you will be on your way. JUST START! Whenever you slip back into stress, repeat all steps as necessary.
One of my friends made this important observation:
After the amount of stress I’ve been through the past few weeks, I still carry the lesson of letting go. You can’t take any of the stress with you. While you’re IN IT, it seems like you’ll never make it, but then when it’s OVER, it’s nothing but a story to tell…
* just make sure to make the story inspirational, or forever hold your peace.
Reduce Stress and Relax
To reduce stress choose relaxing techniques below, or design your own feel-good day; but be careful, too much of a good thing can backfire – lean to the side of relaxation.
- Recharge with a Shiatsu massage, Hatha yoga, long shower, or a walk in the park
- Intend to feel good, breathe deep, straighten your posture, feel the joy
- Talk to someone supportive and positive, have a light chat about fun things
- Have a quality dinner (eg. salmon), rich vegetable salad and some green tea
- Go to IKEA, get some candles, walk around the demo rooms, pretend you’re in your own gigantic kitchen cooking a nutritious dinner for your family
- Take a drive through a nice neighbourhood, feel like you live here, feel good
- Have some fresh fruit (eg. strawberries, kiwi, apple) or a healthy smoothie
- Groom yourself, wash your hair, put on your best clothes, go out, smile
- Watch a funny TV sitcom or your favourite movie; note: avoid drama and news
- At home light the candles, light an incense, put on some nice music, just relax
After all this you will hopefully feel nice and light, yet crystal clear. Go to sleep early, have a good quality sleep, get up right away when you wake up, have a healthy breakfast, and… get going with the plan. The time to make it happen is now! It’s now or never!
“Plow through, Plow through”
Every time you’re “in the zone” making amazing progress and a challenge comes up that tries to stop you, just say to yourself the words “Plow through, Plow through” and keep at it strong like a bull! If you really give it all you got, you will come out a happy and successful person.
As you’re going through the day, treat every challenge as a patience test. Just focus on your goal and calmly get through it. Just decide to feel better and keep going. Everything is alright, you’re on the right track.
Men listen up! Grow a pair, override stress, get to work, and claim what’s yours! Don’t put up with any BS. Don’t worry about every single “what-if.” Failure (ehrm, challenge) is always an option, but success is sweet and satisfying. Research possible options, gain the knowledge, have backup, then take the risk! Trust, believe, and act! Plow through and adjust if necessary. Nothing great was ever accomplished by being timid or ultra safe.
If you catch yourself procrastinating, first look inside you and try to find out what exactly is the problem, what do you need? Are you overwhelmed? Are you hungry? Is your mind exhausted? Find what you really need and try to take care of it (see next paragraph). Then divide your big task into smaller parts (make small to-do lists, divide and conquer), and just start, just do it!
The above in more detail: Let the feeling sit for about an hour, analyze it (where in the body is it, what does it look like, analyze it logically and emotionally). Then “puke”/spit/exhale it out. Then when it feels gone, assume a shaman pose and recharge with fresh air and light (breathe deep and soak up the sun). Have a good night sleep. Nicely done!
One day en route to office I tried to see where the pain is. It was on my head, like a hat, but made of sludge and slowly moving downwards onto my forehead and around my head. Clearly I fried my brain.I went for a long walk in the park, then a Yoga class, and then had a solid good night sleep. Next morning I self-woke early (7am) and ready for work, feeling good and very motivated.
Another day I woke up really mentally exhausted – I was slow, mellow, and didn’t feel like talking to anyone (as in producing any vocal sound!).
I forced myself to the gym for a quick workout.
My mantra “let’s make it count!” simply didn’t work this time, so I had to force my body with: “just do it!” and totally ignore what the brain says.
Mid-workout I actually had to take a 5 min nap on a flat bench: I had to do what I had to do. When I was done and leaving, I was wasted, but felt really good all over. I can’t stress enough how important an exercise is even when in the middle of the most busy time.
Reading all the help books and websites may give you a lot of knowledge, but the very nature of those readings can be very overwhelming. I found that making an intention before reading (what do I want to learn?), setting a soft deadline to finish reading, having a good night sleep (for the new information to soak in), and then applying the knowledge in practice the next day is the way to go.
Nutrition: High-productivity mode can make you hungry really quickly and often, even every 2-3 hours despite regular meals every time. The crucial thing is a quality food, eg. fruit, fibre cereal and eggs for breakfast, salmon sandwich for lunch, Vietnamese chicken soup for dinner,
brain supplements (Brazilian nuts, blueberries, ginseng and ginkgo), and plenty of water.
Financial Stress Relief
For financial stress relief start with gratitude, think about what you have: home, food, access to library, access to internet. Also you have your mind “and as long you have your mind, you can put things back together” – The Secret’s Miracle Man.
With money I experienced the power of Law of Attraction first hand! I really needed to feel own self-worth.I also had to clean up my finances to make room for new money energy.
When looking for work, don’t just sit in front of the computer all day and spam mailboxes with your resumes. Do a little bit of research on the internet who else on this planet is doing similar project to yours, search for blogs, forums, websites, physical meetings and events.
Then get out there, meet people, interact, make connections, offer your value, take positive action, and see what happens. Note: don’t be needy or desperate; be enthusiastic and come from an angle of confidence and value. Ask them how can YOU be of service to them. Easy way to do that is to make friends or connections for the purpose of exchanging knowledge and ideas.
In the meantime, if you need money fast, consider options such as selling your stuff on eBay or Kijiji, advertising your talent and skills in a local newspaper, or even getting a part-time job that’s well below your qualifications or compensation expectations. I did what I had to do and worked for $10/hour for a while. I was really thankful for that opportunity and soon moved up to better paying gigs.
If you already own a business that isn’t doing too well, but you really want it to work out and prosper, summon all the energy you possibly can and Act! It is possible to turn around your business in 7 days. With a right course you can discover practical immediate cash ideas, money management techniques, solid business advice, tax tips, and drastic measures marketing action plan.
You can consider starting another business, with your knowledge and experience to date being a great asset. If you feel you need to study up a little and do it even better, consider a Business Coaching Program. It can teach you about ways to continuous cash flow, deep human needs, raising capital, spreading the word, and much more.
If you choose not to continue your business and have other plans or goals, close it down. If you are heavily in debt, consider the financial bail-out options including bankruptcy. If it’s your first one and you don’t have too many assets, it is a reasonably simple process. However, try to avoid it if you can – it should be your last resort as it makes your life a bit difficult for a few years. Weigh it with your current situation and make a decision.
Health, Nutrition, Exercise
One time I lost being grounded and strong after I ate microwaved orange food (fried fish and fried chicken) – killed me! Having salads and fresh healthy food, especially when in high performance mode is crucial!
Stock up on healthy food at home or go out to Lebanese sandwich places. Maintain your body like it were a million dollar race horse! In a way it is, because it’s the only one you got!
At my local supermarket I buy Jamieson Slim Down Snack Bars or Life Brand Sportzone energy bars. These really come handy when it comes to a quick snack when getting hungry. When buying snack energy bars, always watch saturated/trans fat and sugar/carb content. If there is no information about sugar content, be very suspicious, most of the time sugar is through the roof.
High-productivity mode can make you hungry really quickly and often, even every 2-3 hours despite regular meals every time. The crucial thing is a quality food, eg. fruit, fibre cereal and eggs for breakfast, salmon sandwich for lunch, Vietnamese chicken soup for dinner, brain supplements (Brazilian nuts, blueberries, ginseng and ginkgo), and plenty of water.
One day I woke up really mentally exhausted – I was slow and mellow. I forced myself to the gym for a quick workout. My mantra “let’s make it count!” simply didn’t work this time, so I had to force my body with: “just do it!” and totally ignore what the brain says. It’s really important to just get it done when deep inside you know it’s good for you.
You can do basic exercises such as wide grip assisted pull-up, push ups, bosu core twist with weight or squats, mid back, flat bench dumbbells, dumbbell press, triceps press, etc.
When I went to take a shower next night, in the mirror I saw my upper body muscles all bubbled up from yesterday’s workout. The mojo was back and I slept feeling so much better.
Appearance and Image Boost
When you’re super down, Chi is low, and you have crappy posture, what do you do? Well, start with grooming (haircut, shave, face moisturizer, a bit of sun, all to get the glow back), then gym (cardio, quick chest, quick legs, shoulders, back, some stretching), then follow all that with a nice spicy chicken soup. Posture is back, power is back, internal joy is back, mind sharpness is back. People are checking you out. Nicely done!
Dress well every day! It can be business casual or whatever the high end of your style is. Get a pair of nice dress shoes. Shoes are super important as they make or break your image.
Change your physiology: straighten your posture, thrust your chest forward, smile. Then change frustration into curiosity: questioning, exploring, testing, and believing that a solution exists. Look busy and incisive, feel confident, feel wealthy, and feel good. Check out fashion magazines at a local bookstore for ideas or do Google image search.
Remember you must never be depressed in public, especially with people you care about. Keep an upbeat, enthusiastic and confident image consistently. If you must, have your sad or angry moments in private. No one deserves to be on the receiving end of your moods.
Daily Stress Survival Ideas
- Clean up, calm down, keep a positive outlook (trust and believe)
- Fix worries (computer backup, insurance) and automate as much as possible
- Have vision and goals, make to-do lists, take daily action moving forward
- Do what feels good, but have a game plan, know situation is only temporary
- Surrounds yourself with positive and empowering people
- Avoid getting hooked into arguments with negative people
- Take nothing personally, take it as feedback, agree to disagree
- Be open to other people’s thoughts and ideas (especially successful people’s)
- Sleep and wake early, breathe deep, eat healthy, drink lots of water, exercise
When you’re super down, Chi is low, and you have crappy posture, what do you do? Well, start with grooming (haircut, shave, face moisturizer, a bit of sun, all to get the glow back), then gym (cardio, quick chest, quick legs, shoulders, back, some stretching), then follow all that with a nice spicy chicken soup.
Posture is back, power is back, internal joy is back, mind sharpness is back. Back to the projects.
Below are few random notes straight out of my Journal:
One night I was sad and restless and I couldn’t fall asleep, I self-hypnotically repeated a positive affirmation: “I feel awesome! I feel fantastic!” At first it felt like a lie, but within 15 minutes my mood changed to real joy.
And then my thoughts went on autopilot recalling all nice things that happened to me recently, nice things I did for others, and nice things that were about to happen. Amazing! I slept like a baby that night.
In the Paraliminal Coaching Belief Side B, Paul talks about Learned/Educated Helplessness. His advice to turn it around is: first change physiology (posture, power pose, smile), then change frustration into curiosity (questioning, exploring, testing, believing that a solution exists). I listened to each coaching 3 times and paraliminal 2 times over a couple of days. I was catching new information every time.
Whenever you’re slipping into helplessness, you have to do something! Anything! Change your environment, watch racing movies, sing-along to your favorite song, do accents, go for a walk, treat yourself (as healthy as possible!). Although only temporary, anything helps that puts you back on your project (note: you must have that project!).
My happy place is quiet, sunny and positive, with classical piano music and incense in the background. Also I tend to go for a walk to a nice neighborhood grocery store (25 min walk one way), where I have a fresh chicken salad wrap, single espresso, and acai smoothie. What an energy shift! Go to a local library, coffee shop, or a garden and work from there.
I found an interesting article about business sharks:
For sunny days they must maximize the energy and celebrate it with something nice for self.
For rainy days they must find a way to make the best out of it and a find own ritual to raise the energy.
Allow yourself to be depressed, but only in privacy… It’s a very human reaction to hard work, and you must go through it, sooner or later.Remember that you are not an average guy, you want to be a millionaire, so you will not experience average emotions. Don’t fight depression, don’t escape it and don’t hide it, it’s normal, so take it to the full, but in privacy.
Once recovered, forget it and start clean.
Otherwise damage control is required. One way to do that is through honesty. Just say that you had a crappy day and you want to make it right but taking the person to lunch.
Then don’t talk about that day, deliver a pleasant quality time.
Always plan ahead – even with just a simple “what-if”. Also always think before doing anything (big or small). Have backup if possible, eg. have a temporary “recycling bin” when cleaning clutter.
Say no to things you really don’t want to do. If you already have made a commitment you cannot take back, offer to do something else that’s equivalent in value instead.