Overwhelming stress be a modern day plague. Our mothers and grandmothers certainly never complained about it.
However, given the fast pace of our lives, the relentless demands on our time and how easily accessible we constantly are to everyone and everything via electronic media, it’s really no wonder stress has taken a stronghold in our lives.
We jam more into our days than our technologically disadvantaged forebears could ever have managed in a week, our brains straining to stay on top of it all. I’m sure sometimes even my electronic diary wants to let out a groan!
Allowing our brains to rest on a single thought for any significant period of time has become both a challenge and a luxury. We’re harassed by pings and dings at every turn. Even with the sound switched off, our pockets vibrate every time someone changes the venue for tomorrow’s coffee meeting.
So what can you do to save yourself from drowning in a sea of daily stress?
Here are three simple steps that make a huge difference.
The main reason you’re feeling overwhelmed is a loss of focus, but before you can regain your focus you need to achieve clarity. You need clarity on what your priorities and core values are, clarity on what is most important to you in life and what you should be focusing your time on. So although a lack of focus is the reason you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s underpinned by a lack of clarity of your priorities and core values.
So first of all you need to spend some time getting those sorted.
Define your core values and key priorities. Ask who you’re really doing these things for and which ones you can let go of. Then set some new priorities for yourself.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your focus is sprayed all over the place. Unfortunately it’s actually not possible for us to focus on 10 things, or even two, at one time. We can only truly focus on one thing at a time. That’s kind of the definition of focus, isn’t it?
When stress sets in, it means we no longer have a clue as to which things are important and which aren’t. We just try to do them all, usually all at once!
So the next step is to get your focus in order. Work on eliminating distractions, negative influences and negative self-talk. These are things that have been affecting and diluting your focus.
Set some goals in line with your core values. Focus will help make those goals so big that the obstacles will shrink in comparison. Think of a river making its way downstream. You never see it do a sudden U-turn when it reaches rocks or branches in its way, do you? That is how you want to flow, too.
Once you’ve achieved clarity and focus, you’ll be tempted to jump straight back into the heady soup of life and let it carry you away for another round of thrills and spills.
However, if you act too soon, you’ll risk repeating the whole pattern all over again.
That crazy busy world we live in is still there, along with all the distraction ready to compete for your attention. The shiny bright objects are all lined up, waiting to momentarily blind and disorient you. Then, while you’re stumbling around trying to regain your composure, all the pings, dings, requests, emails, phone calls, texts and Facebook notifications will jump at you like muggers in an alleyway.
They’ll hijack your attention and throw you back into the sea of stress once more.
So you’ll need some strategies and habits to keep you safe from those attention muggers. When the shiny bright objects try to woe you with their magic, you’ll need to be armed with tools that allow you to resist the temptations and help you stay on course.
Remember when you find yourself falling victim to overwhelming stress, simply breathe deeply and follow this three-step process to regain your clarity and focus, then get a strategy in place to help you stay on course.
Once you get this simple process right, you’ll have earned yourself a free ticket to the sweet land of ease and momentum.
And that is one hell of a great place to be.