Stress gets a bad rap.
It's a word that often conjures images of anxiety, tension, and sleepless nights.
This definition of stress led me down a journey of unrealistic expectation trying to eliminate it.
Eliminating stress altogether, however, proved to be an unattainable goal.
The more I resisted it, the more it seemed to persist, affecting not only my mental and physical well-being but also my overall performance and progress.
I knew a change was needed.
It wasn't until I redefined my relationship with stress that I began to experience significant growth, deeper satisfaction, and improved productivity in both my career and personal life.
My new understanding of stress centers around harnessing it effectively rather than eliminating it entirely.
To get some practical insights and tips on this topic. I reached out to my friend Dr. Christian Poensgen. Christian is a scientist turned author and executive coach who sets up executives, entrepreneurs and CEOs in high-stress environments for long-term success.
Here are 5 essential stress-related tips he shared with me:
1. Get 90 mins of deep sleep a night: Sleep is the foundation of our mental and physical health and performance. Quality sleep starts with 90 mins of deep sleep.
That’s when our parasympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. Also known as the calmness system, it thus prevents acute (good) stress from turning into chronic (bad) stress.
2. Actively decrease your stress level daily: You can pull that off by activating your calmness system in real-time. Try these 3 science-backed methods:
↳Optic flow (taking a walk) ↳Panoramic vision (viewing the horizon) ↳Exhale-emphasized breathing (“Physiological Sigh”)
3. Increase your stress threshold: This is the level at which your stress system goes into overdrive. Use these 3 proven methods to raise that level: ↳Intense exercise (cardio or resistance) ↳Cold exposure (brief cold showers) ↳Inhale-emphasized breathing (“Wim Hof Breathing”)
4. Cultivate a good stress mindset: Stress can harm or help our performance and health – depending on how we think about it. Here are 3 mindsets to cultivate:
↳Stress-is-enhancing Mindset (Prof. Alia Crum) ↳Synergistic Stress Mindset (Prof. David Yeager) ↳Growth Mindset (Prof. Carol Dweck)
5. Set short- & long-term stress goals: Stress goals are ambitious, meaningful and difficult. Accomplishing them requires us to grow professionally & personally.
Prof. Kelly McGonigal recommends using stress goals both in the short-term (e.g. weekly) and long-term (e.g. yearly).
You’ll add meaning to your pursuits and struggles, buffering stress along the way.
Looking for additional personal development tips? Follow Dr. Christian Poensgen on LinkedIn and sign up for his weekly (free) newsletter Beyond Productivity - here's the link: https://beyondproductivity.substack.com/