Stress is a very complex topic. Not all stress is bad, and in some cases, can actually help you be more successful.
However, as we all know, there is such a thing as too much stress, and for the majority of us, it can have a crippling effect in our lives.
Let’s face it; it can be challenging to handle stress effectively. I am a prime example of that. I personally deal with anxiety issues and can be very high-strung at times, in part because I am a high-achiever. My drive often gets me into trouble because I end up taking too much on and become overwhelmed. Furthermore, I expect a lot from myself and when I feel like I’m underperforming, I take it personally.
Do you resonate with that? Do you find your mind racing at 100 mph sometimes, or do you get stuck in these endless mental loops that stress you out and absolutely kill your productivity?
Well, I’d like to provide an answer for you. I have been utilizing this awesome technique that has been changing the game for me.
What I’m talking about is harnessing the power of Mindfulness and Presence.
If it sounds like meditation, that’s because it is… sort of. What I’ve done was boil down the basic concept of meditation into a simple mental hack that you can use to “reset” and stop stress and anxiety in their tracks. The way most meditative practices work are by taking deep breaths and exercising your brain’s ability to slow your thinking down. As soon as your mind begins to wander, you simply acknowledge this and bring your mind back to “center”, or where you’re at currently.
However, most people get caught up in a lot of the technical, logistical, and spiritual aspects of meditation. Do I have to sit in a quiet room cross-legged, quietly humming to myself until I hit Nirvana?
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
This is why I offer a practical solution to those who cannot afford to invest time in lengthy meditation sessions, or simply need a quick boost to their productivity. Simply follow these two easy steps to utilize mindfulness and presence:
1. When you begin to compulsively worry and stress about something, catch yourself. Begin repeating the word “mindfulness” in your head, which will end the vicious cycle of doomed productivity explained above.
2. From there, begin repeating the words “Back to Center”. This is the cue for you to focus on the ONE thing you are currently working on, whether it is work, driving, journaling, praying, or even sleeping! It is vital, however that you focus on ONE task at this point. Otherwise, your mind will begin to become distracted again and resume its constant worrying.
Surprisingly enough, I had to use this hack to begin work on this very blog post. As I looked at the blank document my mind began to swirl around the many things I had to do today, as well as the many stressors that were afflicting me at the moment. I began to feel my motivation draining and the negative emotions set in. I was suddenly overwhelmed and in danger of getting nothing done.
However, I quickly recognized the fact that I was stressing out again. That very acknowledgement gave me some sense of control over my situation. I then gently repeated “Back to center… back to center… back to center…” in my mind until my brain calmed down. From there, I focused solely on my post and within the hour I was finished!
For this hack to work, you must not beat yourself up about stressing out previously; this will lead to even more stress and anxiety. Instead, simply accept it and move forward. Just like any other skill, this will take practice. Just like the continuous reps of a particular exercise strengthens your muscles, the mental reps of mindfulness and presence will develop your brain to keep stress at bay and get back on track to success.