Posts Tagged ‘stress’

It doesn’t matter how much of a positive person you are, the reality is that the world out there can be pretty negative at times! That’s why its really important that the first thing you do every day is raise your personal energy and your mindset so that you have the resilience to deal with whatever the world throws at you!

Its so easy to get up and dive straight into your day without ever actually taking the time to ready yourself for the challenges that lie ahead. But the truth is, if you start the day half empty you’re not going to get beyond lunchtime before your resources are depleted and you just don’t have anything left to give. At best you only achieve half of what you intended. At worst, you have to resort to some energy vampire techniques just to get you through the rest of the day!

So how do you start the day up?

There are three areas you want to focus on energising. Mind, Body, Focus. Success expert Jack Canfield says we should devote just ten minutes a day to energising each of these areas and that can make a phenomenal difference to how we experience our lives and our results.

Research has shown time and time again that meditation benefits us in all areas of our lives. It can help us deal with stress, it can make us more focused, and it can even help us deal with physical illness. It can make us calmer, more creative, it can improve our relationships and it can help us learn. In fact its difficult to find any reason why we should not make meditation a regular part of our day. How you choose to meditate is entirely up to you, there are so many different ways so play around until you find one that works for you and that you WILL do every day. Here’s a great one to start you off! Get into the habit of doing just 10 minutes every morning as soon as you wake up and watch your energy levels soar!

Starting your day off with some physical exercise is a great way to remind your body that its alive! Movement is life! And yet we spend so much of our modern lives stuck in front of a computer, in a car, or on a comfy sofa in front of the TV. The fact is we are made to move, and movement is one of the ways our body integrates learning so any movement you do is actually making you more intelligent! Again, what you choose to do is up to you. What’s more important is THAT you do it! Yoga is a great way of starting off your day and it doesn’t need to take long. Here’s a really great sequence to lift your mood.

If you don’t fancy yoga, then even a quick walk round the block will get your blood flowing, and if you have a dog to walk, even better because they will not let you have a day off!

And once you’ve woken up your mind and your body its time to focus on what you want to achieve today. So often we float through a day responding and reacting to other people’s demands of us and the reason for this is we have never taken to time to focus on what WE want from the day. Take just 10 minutes to think about it and make a list of what you intend to do with your day, even if its just relax and have fun. That way you get to live your day on your terms and according to your goals not someone else’s! Staying focused on what you want to achieve means you will use your time wisely and on purpose. Just taking that 10 minutes to plan your day can make all the difference between having an unproductive frustrating day and a wonderful, purposeful and productive one. And even if your day goes completely pear shaped (yes we all have days like that!) having an action plan means that least you will end the day with more energy and focus than you would have done otherwise! But more importantly you will know exactly how far off track you are so you can get back on course easily and quickly.

So tonight go to bed early and set your alarm clock 30 minutes early and start your day UP!

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In this world where positive thinking rules, its a bit depressing how all the positive thinking in the world does not always solve the very real problems we face. It might make us feel better, and that’s a great start, but it doesn’t make the bad stuff go away!

I know, it sounds a bit counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? But time and again I come across people who are getting ever more frustrated because they are not getting the results they want, even though they are apparently doing all the right things.

So if its not working for you, does make any sense to do more of what’s not working? Or is it time to try a new strategy?

So here’s an idea: when you’re facing a big problem, or even a small one, first of all lets not dress it up and call it a “challenge” because that doesn’t really make it any easier! In fact often it just makes you feel more stupid because you haven’t been able to overcome it! Lets call it what it is and be honest about it. Now look at this problem square on and make a list of all the reasons you can think of why this problem is unsolvable, the more reasons you can find the better! You don’t want to think about all the reasons why you “should” be able to solve the problem at this stage. That’s just going to stress you out even more and we know that stress makes us stupid! Once you have a comprehensive list, take a good long look at it and see if you can find one reason that you think you might be able to find a solution to, even if its a crazy unlikely one. If you’ve written down enough reasons you can probably find at least one that is solvable. Now make an action plan to resolve that reason. Then go onto the next one. And the next and the next until the problem is solved. Only tackle the easiest reasons first, as you gain in confidence you can tackle the more difficult ones, or you might find that you don’t even need to!

There are very few problems that don’t have a solution but sometimes its easier for our brain to think of reasons why it can’t be done than reasons why it can. Try it and let me know how you get on.

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One of the most helpful things you can learn when you are pushing forward with powerful goals is how to recognise where you are in that area between learning and consolidating that we call the comfort zone.

If we can learn to surf that wave, we maximise the speed of our progress and we minimise the levels of stress. So its a good thing to learn if you want results fast!

Firstly lets look at how it feels when we’re in flow. Flow is when your level of expertise perfectly matches the challenge of the task. Its when you do things almost automatically, you don’t have to think too hard about it, your whole system just knows what to do and gets on with it. If you’re an experienced driver you will be in flow much of the time. You don’t have to think about turning the wheel, you just think about where you want to be. When we are in flow time seems to slow down so your reactions become effortless, there’s no rush or panic, just a sense of calm focus.

Now, try to remember when you first started learning to drive. Remember how unfamiliar everything felt. There were so many things to think about. So many lights and levers and buttons and you wondered how you were ever going to master it. Things seemed to happen very quickly and you had to make so many decisions all at once and everything seemed disjointed and clumsy. You had to consciously think where your hands and feet were and what they were doing and panic was never far away! This is the learning zone.

Now imagine that your driving instructor took you out on Sheikh Zayed Road at rush hour. Now you have all the other drivers to think about as well, people are coming at you from all directions, beeping their horns, narrowly missing you, making rude gestures, and on top of that your instructor is shouting at you as well. Suddenly your mind goes blank, your hands start sweating, your heart is beating out of your chest, you have no idea what to do next and you freeze completely. This is the burn out zone.


Now imagine the next lesson. The instructor takes you round the back roads of a half empty industrial estate on a Friday (weekend) morning. He makes you go round and round and round, practising turning, reversing, stopping, starting, speeding up, slowing down and there’s no other traffic on the road and everything is calm. Suddenly all of those complicated actions start to make sense and the more often you do them the less you have to actually think about them. This is the consolidation zone where you practice what you’ve learned until it becomes a part of you.

Now imagine the instructor tells you to do this day after day and tells you never to go on the busy roads and only to drive when there’s no one else out. You’ve practiced everything a million times and you never seem to be getting anywhere. Suddenly you start to make silly mistakes. You lose concentration. You are bored to tears and you can’t remember why you ever wanted to learn to drive in the first place. You can never go anywhere because you might come across other traffic. All of your learning is now useless and pretty soon you give up. But if anyone suggests you try something a bit more challenging, fear comes up and you remember the burn out zone and stay exactly where you are. This is the rust out zone.

Both the rust out zone and the burn out zone are places you really don’t want to spend much time. If you are pushing ahead fast and really stretching yourself you may want to foray out into the burn out zone, but don’t stay too long and try to go with someone who has been there before so you can hang on to them!  Likewise, if you are tired and stressed you may want to rest for a little while in the rust out zone. But don’t get comfortable there or you’ll be stuck forever!

Learn to recognise the signs that you’re in these zones and you can avoid their perils and achieve incredible things in less time and with less stress than you ever thought possible!

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This is another kind of energy vampire but this one is very toxic. And, like so many energy vampires, often you don’t realise you’ve been bitten till you’re right in it!

The chaos demon loves to create mayhem wherever it goes. But it does it in such a way that you get sucked in initially by feeling sorry for it! Then it makes you feel like you are the only person who can solve its problems – flattery nearly always works. Lets face it, everyone loves to feel indispensable! It then hands over total responsibility for the chaos, but doesn’t hand over all of the information and also makes unrealistic demands. It then drip feeds information, changes deadlines and brings other new elements into the chaos. Just at the point where you are being sucked dry it throws a hissy fit, blames you for all its problems, complains long and loud to anyone who will listen and leaves you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, confused and incredibly guilty that you haven’t lived up to their expectations.

So how do you recognise a chaos demon? Well, firstly take a look at their history. Do they immediately start to tell you about all of the disasters in their lives? Do they have a string of people who have “let them down”? Was it always someone else’s fault? Are they “Masters of Disaster”? Do they have a history of relationship mayhem? Do they have an allergy to organisation? Are they always the “victim”? Do they tell you really early in the conversation that you are the first person who has been able to understand them? These are all clear signs that you are in the company of a chaos demon. Now is a good time to run!

If you do get sucked in, the best way to deal with them is to clarify everything, preferably in writing, and make sure you keep multiple copies because they will lose theirs when they need to. That way when they change the parameters on you half way through you have a way of tracking them!

Next, always put the responsibility for decision making back on them. They will try and try to get you to take it on for them, in fact this is a big warning sign. They will use every trick in the book to get you on the hook. Tears, flattery, threats, hysterics are all in their repertoire and they can flip between them in an instant so beware. But at all costs they don’t want to take responsibility so this is also a great repellent!

Next always make sure you ask them what they think they should do. The thing is they don’t want to think, so there’s a good chance if you ask them often enough they will get nervous and run for the hills!

As with all energy vampires, making them face the truth about their behaviour is a great way to get rid of them. But the chances are whatever you do they will leave you feeling bruised and battered. Just make sure you learn to recognise them early so you can avoid contact. But if you do get sucked in, don’t feel bad. You’re not the first and you sure won’t be the last!

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I was talking with my business coach Phil Bedford today about why it is that even when we learn a new and better way of doing something, when things get challenging we fall back into old habits and go back to the old inefficient way of doing things.

You would think that when things get tough we would be excited to put all our new learning into action. But the reality is, when the going gets tough, the old Inner Reptile takes over and, as we know, he’s not the smartest iguana on the block. And so the easiest thing is to go back to our old familiar ways of operating. They may not be the most efficient but they have served us in the past. What the Inner Reptile is looking for is not innovation, he’s looking for safety. He doesn’t care if this old way of doing things has never got you great results – he’s looking for something predictable. He doesn’t want theory, he wants a sure thing! He doesn’t care about consequences, he just wants to survive the next minute.

Doing something new requires a lot of extra brain power. So if you can, avoid learning new things at stressful times. I can’t count the number of times I’ve decided the evening before some big event that my presentation needs tweaking with some new and complicated effect! And then spent most of the night using words my mother would not approve of trying to make it work! Under pressure and new learning simply do not go together, so if you don’t have to, don’t do it!

If you do have to, and lets face it sometimes we don’t have a choice, then be very aware of what is going on. Most of your braincells have been hijacked by a crazy iguana who has decided you need saving from yourself. If you fight him it will just confirm his belief that you’re a danger and he’ll take over more. Take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, unclench your fists and take another deep breath and smile. Take the time to slow everything down and respond rather than react. Reptiles hate that!

The best thing is to take every opportunity to put new learning into practice before you really need to. That way you have started to form new habits and overwrite the old behaviours before you really need to. But if you do get it wrong, forgive yourself, dust yourself down and start again. We all fall back into old habits from time to time. The key is to notice it early and put things right before you get a chance to cause too much damage!

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Here’s a tip on time management – when you get yourself so organised that you’re ready to leave to go somewhere 20 minutes early, never ever ever think that you can just fit one more task in before you go! You won’t do the task well, it will take you longer than 20 minutes to complete and to add to it the traffic will be a nightmare and you will be late!

Time management is not about fitting as many tasks as possible into the day, its ensuring that everything you do fits in with your overall plan and contributes to getting you the results you want in the time you planned. Getting there more quickly is not a good thing if it means you arrive burnt out, frazzled and exhausted and most of your friends and family have forgotten your name!

Feeling busy can be an addiction and it is very often a sign that the Inner Reptile is taking over so pay close attention when you find yourself rushing about like a mad thing trying to do too many things and doing none of them really well. Take a look at your plan, see if you are just being busy for the sake of it or if you do need to adjust your timetable slightly. Far better to adjust your deadline early on than to find yourself a week before with a month’s worth of work to do!

There will be plenty of times you really do need to do the blue-assed fly thing so make sure your plan has some give in it. If your plan requires you to work 20 hour days for weeks at a time, what are you going to do when there’s a real emergency? You won’t have the energy and even if you do, you won’t have the hours in a day.

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Its really easy when you’re excited about your goals to forget to build some down-time into your plan. In fact a lot of people feel guilty about taking any time off at all and if they could they would work 24/7 and find a way to clone themselves as well.

But think about it this way: Imagine you had someone working for you who was brilliant, switched on, motivated, intelligent, knowledgeable, dynamic, forward thinking, creative, was totally committed to you and passionate about what they were doing and you absolutely loved working with this person.

Now imagine that you never paid them, you never praised them, you never rewarded them in any way, you never listened when they told you what they needed, you always put them last in any decisions you made, you didn’t care about their health or their stress levels, you never paid any attention to what they wanted and you expected them to show up 100% all day every day.

How long would you expect that person to hang around working for you?

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