Feeling Overwhelmed? 4 Ways to Reduce Stress & Take Back Control
Ease is something that we’re all looking for but we don't always believe we can get it at work, do we? Isn't being stressed just a part of working life?
Feeling burnt-out, overworked, overwhelmed and stressed doesn't have to be a standard. Wouldn’t working life be so much better if every employee, including leaders, had the tools to cultivate ease in their lives and work?
Overcoming obstacles in the business world is a part of the journey to success but without the learning the tools to handle it with resilience, our emotional responses to difficult work situations can infringe on our ability to deliver, our results and experience happiness and health.
But what if every single member of your company had the know-how to take on the challenges and obstacles, overcome stressful situations at work, stay focused, work more productively and not take the emotional fall-out home (or from home into work)?
That’s where we come in.
At Life Ladder, we’ve made it our business to enable people at all levels in organisations elevate their performance and experience success and happiness, creating high performance teams throughout the business. Life Ladder's microlearning approach goes far beyond time management and prioritisation training, rather we tap into the wiring of the subconscious mind to enable individuals to develop the mindsets and behaviours that make a difference to their results, wellbeing and their lives.
We help leaders and employees tackle everyday challenges by providing professional development tools that can help them develop the mindsets that help them maintain a sense of calm, focus, control and most importantly of all, ease.
Here are 5 tips straight from our founder, Natalie Rae, that will help anyone find the capacity to maintain their balance and focus when the pressure is on.
1. Change Your Thinking to Change Your Emotional State & Reduce Stress
Think of any of the many work situations that happen frequently that can leave us with some pretty strong emotions. Perhaps the hangover from a conflict at work, how it feels when you have to deliver feedback to an employee who's under-performing, or maybe when overwhelm and stress is building from increasing workloads.
The way we respond to things follows a general pattern. We conjure an image, thought, sound or feeling that is associated with our emotional state at the time, which we then frequently get trapped in.
'Breaking the State' is a process you can use to release emotional reactions and patterns. ‘The state’ refers to the image, thought, sound or feeling we just mentioned. Breaking the state means changing, moving or releasing that state, so it no longer has the same emotional impact and moving towards a more positive, resourceful state.
And it starts by taking charge of your thoughts.
That's more like it.
When we’re stuck in a state of overwhelm or stress, it's hard to think straight.
Do you remember the story of Peter Pan?
They often had to fly to get themselves where they needed to be, to get to someone who needed them, or lift themselves out of danger. The fuel they used to fly was happy thoughts. In the same way happy thoughts made them fly, they can help you break the state.
Focusing on something that brings you joy interrupts the subconscious mind while in the state of overwhelm, and forces it to focus on something that makes you feel good. By doing this exercise, you’ll trigger a shift from a resourceless/stressed/unhappy state to the positive opposite.
So, what’s your happy thought? What, who or where makes you feel happy, peaceful or confident?
Make it really detailed, perhaps you’re walking hand-in-hand with a loved one through a lush forest. What can you see, smell, hear, taste, touch in this place?
If this type of visualisation isn’t your thing, get up. Walk around, stretch, move your body, dance. Changing your physiology will also help to break the emotional thought loop you’re stuck in and put you in a position to re-set.
2. Wandering Minds Create Stress - Embrace the Present Moment
You'll have experienced how the mind likes to wander. When it does, it take us out of what we’re supposed to be doing or thinking in the here-and-now and a mind that's struggling to focus on the current moment can result in stress and anxiety. Alternatively, when we fully exist in the present moment, we are at our most powerful (and productive) because everything in the past, future and not relevant to what we're doing, falls away.
To complete a project productively and with greater ease and less stress, your mental presence is required. So, how do we bring ourselves back to the present moment when everything about us is overwhelmingly competing for our attention?
Here’s one method. In NLP, we call it ‘The Now State’.
Find a spot somewhere in the room to focus on. Glue your focused vision to that spot, and use your peripheral vision to expand beyond it. While you remain focused on that one spot, expand your awareness to what’s around it, stay focused on the spot, but also see the ceiling, the floor, other details that surround your chosen focus point. Keep expanding your focus outwards.
Once you start doing this, you’ll notice that the mind ceases to wander. This happens because you are occupying the space where irrelevant and unhelpful internal dialogue usually sits. There will be less room in your mind for things not of the present moment.
Once you have practised this state in this way, you'll notice how it feels to move into this state, you'll learn how to 'slip into the present moment'. As a result, you'll now be able to find that same state when you're working and need to focus, or even doing chores at home or the shopping, simply by directing your mind to it. It helps you teach your mind to filter out what is irrelevant and on the periphery.
We explore this method in more detail to our subscribers, but this is a great starting point to help you stay more focused – and less stressed and bothered by what's not important and not helping you achieve what you need to do.
3. No Need to Stress: You Can Change How Your Mind Responds to Events Around You
The mind works in sensory functions in order to process and understand what's happening around us. In our minds eye, we are able to see pictures, hear sounds, recall smells and tastes and feel feelings.
A frequently overlooked detail about the way our minds work is that we have much more control than we think. We often relinquish control to our emotions, but in reality, we can get creative with how we use our mental senses and interrupt otherwise automated emotional patterns. This helps us change how we respond to or feel about a current event or past experience.
An NLP Model called sub-modalities helps to harness the power of these, and learn how to wield them.
Here’s an exercise to help you do just that:
Though you may feel a little awkward using this type of technique at first, stay with it until the end. You’re tapping into the deeper chambers of your mind, and when you make that a habit, you can transform your life. By taking control and ownership of these sub-modalities, you get to decide how your conscious mind deals with situations that might otherwise trigger stress or overwhelm. You become the master of your mind.
4. Start With Your Breath
Ever felt that sense of chaos when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Your mind starts firing everything off at once. All of a sudden, you don’t know where to begin! Worse - will you ever get it all done in time? You start considering changing your name and booking a random Easyjet flight.
There is one weapon in your armoury that is invaluable to taking control of this state of mind. Maybe you’ve guessed it already? Your breath.
We know, deep breaths - old news. But think about it scientifically.
There was a time that our ancestors had to flee sabre-tooth tigers. Your ancestors did that very successfully, hence why you’re sitting where you are, reading this blog.
The fight-or-flight response that caused us to flee predators is the same one we experience today when we don’t want to deal with that difficult meeting, or call the client and tell them there’s a delay, or make Sandeep redundant.
We trigger fight-or-flight with internal stresses, our adrenaline rushes to save us. The thing is, we’re not in danger of being eaten, we’re just at work.
This is where the breath comes in. The breath enables you to focus, and reverses your fight-or-flight response by signalling that you are safe.
- Find a quiet spot to sit and breathe.
- Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. See if you can make your exhale double the length of your inhale.
- Soften your shoulders, notice if your jaw is tight, allow your whole body to relax with every exhale.
- Maybe set a timer on your phone and repeat this exercise for 5 minutes. You’ll be thinking much clearer afterwards!
Never underestimate the power of your breath, or your ability to control it.
The techniques revealed here only scratch the surface of the incredible catalogue of tools held within the Life Ladder platform. As a member, you’ll have access to all our secrets and you will be perfectly positioned to transcend stress, overwhelm and burnout.
The best part? So will your entire staff.