Four Steps To Reducing Stress

From the Harmony Habit Tip Archives (February 2012):

“Under pressure we don’t rise to the challenge,
we drop to our level of training.”
~ Unknown

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Reflection:

Hmmm… interesting…

ConflictThis idea seems spot on, especially when we look at how we respond to conflict under pressure. Most of us are quick to recognize the fear, uncertainty and stress that often accompany conflict; yet many people feel ill-equipped to deal with this inevitable challenge.

Why? Because most people have had little training in conflict resolution!

Yet the beauty of being human is that we can always change! It’s never too late – or too early – to learn new skills. With the proper training – and a commitment to doing our best – we can change the way we react, so that the level of training we “drop” to can be an extraordinary, exemplary one.

In order to do that,however, we need to train ourselves to respond to life differently, to “recalculate” when pressure mounts.

We need an inner GPS!

A few years back, I was returning a rental car that had a GPS device inside it. I was at an unfamiliar airport, hurrying to catch a plane, and making lots of wrong turns… as I did that, the little voice inside the device kept saying “Recalculate! Recalculate!” And I remember laughing and thinking, wouldn’t it be great if every time we were off track in our lives, we had a little voice in our head that said “Recalculate! Recalculate!”, so we could regroup quickly?

Navigation system. Gps. 3dWell, short of that, I’ve discovered a very effective “training tool”, which, when used regularly, is like having an inner GPS! I’ve found this simple, systematic, 4-step method very useful in becoming more skillful in dealing with life’s pressures and believe you’ll find it helpful, too!

Four Steps to “Recalculate”: Stop, Breathe, Reflect and Choose!

Step 1. Stop… notice what’s happening… say “hello habit energy”. (Sylvia Boorstein says to herself: “Sweetheart, you’re in pain. Relax. Breathe, we’ll figure it out later.”)

Step 2. Breathe… center yourself… use your breath to break the automatic link between your behavior and emotions. Your breath will anchor you to the moment, rather than have you be lost in some catastrophic story about how this “always happens”, or “how awful” this is, or “how overextended” you are. The stories we all tell ourselves that are guaranteed to send us into a deep funk!

Step 3. Reflect on what’s really happening. What’s right in front of you, so you can figure out the next best action to take. Then ask empowering questions:

•    What am I thinking?
•    Are my thoughts useful?
•    Am I stressing about an “imagined future”?
•    What am I feeling (tired? frazzled? frustrated? Unheard?)
•    Is this a legitimate problem, a trend (working until midnight) …or an isolated incident?
•    What’s my intention here?
•    What’s my desired outcome?
•    What do I need? (To speak up? Not be so shy? Take a risk? Develop greater rapport? Better communication? Better problem solving skills? Slow down, take a break, and increase self-care? Take a deep breath? Suspend all other “stories”? Give my full focus? Get the job done?)

Step 4. Choose wisely – align your actions with your values to create the kind of positive outcome you want. Is your behavior reflecting the value of peace and harmony?

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This week’s practice:

So this week’s practice is simple – try it!

Practice using this tool, especially when faced with something challenging – and see for yourself if you don’t “drop” to a new – and more effective – level of training!

Remember to pay special attention to what you need when under pressure. Identifying what you need is a surefire way of moving from an emotionally charged frame of mind into a calmer, more grounded state. That’s where the best solution lies!

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