Do you constantly have that nagging feeling that your thoughts are weighing you down? Do you feel sluggish when you have a lot on your mind? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the things you are worried about?
Bet you feel stressed out then, don’t ya?
Well here’s the culprit…The General Adaptation Syndrome.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all scientific on you in this post. I’ll save that for the future. In this post I just want to give you a quick overview and a few strategies you can use to bust that stress!
Identifying Good Stress
First, let’s talk about the good kind of stress. Yes, it exists. Think of that feeling you get right before you’re about to do something important. Maybe you get a few butterflies in your stomach. Maybe you feel your blood starting to rush.
It’s like an athlete before a big game. He gets those butterflies combined with a whole bunch of energy juice.
This is the good stress. It’s called adrenaline and it’s only temporary. Once the game (or whatever event creates the adrenaline) ends, the stress subsides and life goes on as normal.
This kind of stress is used to get stuff done. It’s used to help you focus your energy on doing good work. It’s an “in the moment” kind of stress.
The key thing to note about this good kind of stress is that the actual stress is used to do something. In other words, there is action involved.
Identifying Bad Stress
When stress is present without action (i.e. worries), that’s when it starts to eat away at your mind.
This kind of stress actually can kill neurons in your brain. It can destroy the function of your immune system. It can also hurt your cardiovascular function.
This is the kind of stress that makes you anxious. There is a big difference between being generally anxious and having adrenaline before a big event. The general anxiety is not handled, while the adrenaline is. The anxiety lingers and makes life much less pleasant.
The bad stress caused by worry without action also makes you irritable and easily frustrated. I’m sure you’ve been there before. Sometimes, it may even cause you to have difficulty sleeping.
Some people even turn to food in these situations, which leads to a whole host of other problems.
Strategies for Busting Stress
One of the biggest factors causing stress is our expectation of perfection. We expect ourselves to be perfect and we expect others to be perfect. In all, we tend to expect life to be perfect…at least according to our own definitions of perfection.
When things aren’t perfect, they cause disruptions in our mental psyche. They disrupt our equilibrium of thought. We begin to focus on the things that are causing the disruptions, even when a lot of these things are out of our control.
Being that a lot of these things are out of our control, focusing on them causes the kind of bad stress that leads to all the problems mentioned above.
Furthermore, some of the things we worry about are within our control, yet often we focus on our worries instead of doing something about the problem.
Worry without action causes bad stress…remember that.
So here’s the stress-busting plan:
1. Take a few minutes to jot down as many things that are on your mind as you can. Write down things you are worried about, things you have to remember, things you need to do, etc.
2. Take each item on this list and create the first action for it. In other words, write down the first thing you need to do to resolve the item.
3. If there is nothing you can do about the item, throw it out. Let it go. Say goodbye. This item does not deserve the valuable real estate it is taking up in your mind.
4. Keep adding to the list as you think of things you need to take care of.
5. Store the list somewhere handy and review it regularly. The point of this list is so you don’t have to constantly be running hundreds and thousands of thoughts through your mind. This simple list can help de-clutter your brain and free room to think creatively. In turn, this will help you solve problems that you’ve been stewing over for a while.
Give it a try. This may not be a perfect system, but it’s a start.
**If you want to learn about a more complete organization system, I highly recommend the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Yes, this is an affiliate link). I used David’s system to help myself get organized and then personalized it to make it better for my own taste. I must say, it changed the way I do EVERYTHING!**
What do you think? How do you organize your thoughts? Please share comments and suggestions to help out your fellow Fit Ignition blog readers!