Most Stressful Times
Nearly 7 in 10 employees indicated in a recent survey that the COVID-19 pandemic is the most stressful time of their entire professional career. Concurrent with the recent increase in stress levels, there have been stark increases in new prescriptions of antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-insomnia medications.
None of us is immune from the uncertainty of this interesting time in our lives. However, I’m happy to report that despite a slowdown in my own business, and some unavoidable uncertainty about the future, my stress levels have been low. In fact, I’ve experienced some unprecedented joy, innovation and productivity over the last few months.
Here are my top three foundational stress reduction tools …
1. Plan and Reflect
My daily routine begins when I wake up. First I pray and study scripture. This combination seems to orient me in time. With scripture, I see patterns over history and messages of hope for the future. In prayer, I express gratitude, get present with my current challenges & possibilities and seek guidance.
Then I move immediately to planning the day. I like the High Performance Planner by Brendon Bruchard. With two pages side-by-side for every day, I like the way it prompts me through ten “Morning Mindset” questions. This helps me clarify my intentions for the day and then I’m ready to add things to my schedule and create action lists.
At the end of the day, there’s a section on the page called “Evening Journal.” A half-dozen prompts and a daily Scorecard help me reflect on the day. What did I appreciate about the day? Did I learn something new? Could I have done something better? Once a week, there’s a full page for reflection on the week. I do this on Sundays.
Goodbye Woulda, Coulda and Shoulda
I’ve had close variations of this routine for the past 20 years. Just last year, after reading Brendon Burchard’s book High Performance Habits, I adapted my daily routine to the High Performance Planner approach. I think my planning and reflection (and accompanying execution) is now the best it has ever been. Thoughts of “Woulda”, “coulda”, and “shoulda” are stressful. Good planning and reflection have helped to eliminate this damaging dissonance from my life.
Overarching my daily plan is my quarterly plan I put together on my Traction Point Vision / Traction Organizer. My wife and I also conduct a Family Level-10 Meeting every Sunday afternoon where we review our Quarterly Rocks, last week’s To Dos, and then we IDS our Issues list. At first, it felt a bit formal to follow a level-10 meeting agenda for family meetings. But the consistent structure helps us to know what to expect in the meeting itself and throughout the rest of the week.
2. Eat a Good Breakfast
Eating a good breakfast has made a big difference in my overall health. What is a “good” breakfast? My rule of thumb is to aim for 30 grams of protein and avoid refined carbs and sugar. Since I’ve started doing this, I’m not hungry until lunchtime and my carb cravings have disappeared.
My wife is a nutritionist and frequently recommends these five breakfast recipes. All of them are great, but my go-to is the third one – the Chocolate Orgain Smoothie. This one tastes great, it’s easy and fast to make, and it sticks with me until lunchtime. Usually instead of the ½ avocado, I use a tablespoon of MCT oil. I also throw in a quarter to half of a lemon (peel and all) for a fresh zesty flavor.
Quite simply, eating a good breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day. By starting off right, I eat better the rest of the day and my mental alertness and acuity is higher. Over time, I have just felt better physically and mentally.
Would feeling better physically and mentally reduce your stress? It did for me.
3. Go For Walks
Over the last few months since the gyms closed, my walks have been more regular. There’s something about getting outside, seeing the sky, and breathing the fresh air that has a great calming effect.
In fact, studies show that going for a regular walk improves your mood, makes you more creative, improves your digestion, boosts your immunity and helps you sleep better at night. What do you think? Would those things help reduce your stress?
I have enjoyed the talks with my wife on a great route that takes about a half hour. Sometimes I record my walks and fitness activities on Strava. Follow me and we can cheer each other on in our walks and fitness activities!
Calm in a Crazy World
This has been a worldwide event, the likes of which we have never seen before. Soon, the imposed quarantine will go away, but the opportunities for feeling stress in our lives will not.
I have found planning and reflection, eating a good breakfast, and taking walks to be great stress reducers for me! Which of these do you already do? Which will you start?
What are your strategies for stress reduction? Share a comment and contribute to the conversation!
Be Great today!
Coach, Facilitator, Speaker
Professional EOS Implementer