This is a guest post by Joseph Kelly.
When stress hits us hard, we want it gone, and fast. Reducing and eliminating stress is a never-ending process that requires self-awareness, mindfulness and practice. Only facing stress once it has hit you in the face like a brick is ineffective for long-term health and prosperity. Prepare for ongoing stress management with the following four strategies.
Replace Systems With Goals
Goals are motivators that propel us to get what we want and become our greatest selves. Setting goals builds a desirable vision for the future and motivates us to act on our capabilities. Big, life-changing goals can also feel suffocating though because of the potential for failure and stress-inducing obstacles. Even a minor business challenge or weight-loss setback can quickly escalate in the mind and implode.
Inc. contributor Jeff Haden advocates the philosophy of James Clear, an entrepreneur who believes focusing on systems and ignoring goals produces optimal progress -- "commit to a process, not a goal." Taking the emphasis off the goal and place it onto the system reduces the burden's intensity. You don't have to delay your happiness until the milestone is achieved, and you can surrender the need for immediate results. Create an efficiently designed system and follow system-based thinking to ultimately experience success. You'll lessen the pressure and more easily recover from difficulties.
Maximize Organization & Efficiency
Dedicate yourself to the daily process using systematic scheduling. Maximize the organization and productivity of your scheduling system with the old-fashioned method of pen and paper. The Bullet Journal is an analog system based on rapid logging. In a large moleskin notebook, you'll use bullets to manage data and sort entries into tasks, notes and events. This technique helps increase efficiency and filter information by value and importance. Replacing Post-Its, Google notes and starred emails, for example, with a pen-and-paper logging system keeps you on track. Just by creating a structured visual that you can see and interact with, you can minimize the stress of an overwhelming to-do list.
Mitigate Stress & Pain
The negative physical effects of psychological stress aren't just limited to fatigue or extra belly fat. Stress can actually be the primary influence of back pain, according to Spine-Health.com. A stress-related back pain diagnosis identifies a psycho-physiological illness, which implies "physical symptoms are thought to be the direct result of psychological or emotional factors." Doctor Samo's theory postulates that back pain is associated with a person's feelings and personality. Characteristics like a strong drive for success, perfectionism, high self-criticism, discipline and a great sense of responsibility can all interact with stressful situations and cause back pain.
The mind and body are interconnected. Treating the mind can help relax the body, and exercising the body can help calm the mind -- keep both in balance. Laser Spine Institute offers an exercise video series that promotes a strong and flexible spine. You can also use yoga as stress-relieving therapy. Build a pain-free body with a six-pose yoga practice by Gaiam life or follow this pain-alleviating yoga routine recommended by Adam Levine's yoga instructor, Alanna Zabel.
The more you try to fight stress, the more stress wins. Rather than conquer or overcome stress, befriend it, says Mind Body Green contributor Mike Iamele, a Corporate Wellness Coach. Imagine stress as a motivator and energizer. The first step for embracing stress as a productive tool is to differentiate productive stress from unproductive stress, explains Iamele. Fuming from a hostile work meeting and hanging onto anger at home depletes your resources. But a stressful response to an approaching deadline can be used as ammo to gain momentum on the project. Identify your stress, stressors, reactions and optimal responses, even if you have to write it all down. Let go of unproductive stress and use productive stress, along with a few deep breaths, to charge ahead.
About the Author:
Joseph Kelly is a small business consultant and freelance writer from California. He is married with two boys.