Monday Mornings with Madison


Stress is an unavoidable part of our lives, but lots of  people get very stressed about their stress. This just makes everything worse. The fact is you can’t avoid some stress but you can learn how to manage it better.

There are two key elements to managing stress successfully. First, you have to understand how you create stress, and second, you have to learn how to move away from it quickly. The basics of how you get stressed are very simple: your brain produces thoughts all the time; each thought creates an image and you then step into that image and experience it as if it were really happening right now. So if you have the thought that you are not going to make enough money this year, in that second you create the image of being broke, and your body feels pain as if you actually were broke.

Every time you get stressed it affects you physiologically and psychologically because your fight-or-flight hormones (adrenaline, noradrenalin, and cortisol) rush through your body, preparing you to respond to a life-or-death crisis. If you actually are facing a catastrophe, this is a very useful response to have. Otherwise, it is exhausting to your mind and your body! And it takes away your clarity of thinking, as you feel intense internal pressure to act quickly.

Once you understand this biological process, you can respond to stress by intentionally substituting positive thoughts and positive images for all the negative triggers. Whenever you find yourself creating negative or anxious thoughts, smile—literally, put a smile on your face—breathe deeply and switch over to positive thoughts. You’ll be amazed at how this can change your stress level instantly.

Set your intention  The biggest trigger of stress in life is the feeling that we are not doing what we should be doing. Lurking behind that feeling is the fear that we are never going to get where we want to be. Now this is true enough, but the problem is we don’t know what we are supposed to be doing. We just know that we don’t like where we are, and that we should be doing something different, something that will get us a better life. So we keep living by default, which by default creates a lot of stress. The solution is to create a clear vision of what kind of person you want to be, and then start setting intentions for the day and the week that will help you become that kind of person. As soon as you start acting on this, you will feel a great sense of relief..

Setting intentions is not the same as making up a to-do list. The difference is that a to-do list is all about things you don’t want to do but you know that you have to do. A to-do list keeps you stressed, as you keep pushing it away until you can’t avoid it any longer. An intention, on the other hand, points to the focus you’re going to maintain in your mind. It has to do with what kind of person you want to be today. Which 3 things do you want to accomplish today? What do you want to learn today? What do you want share today?

Setting intentions might feel a little uncomfortable in the beginning, because it’s new and it’s very different from what you’re accustomed to doing. Stick with it, though, and it will change your life.

For one week, minimize your multi-tasking in order to focus on your intentions. Doing many things at once almost always makes people feel stressed. After all, people for most of history had very few distractions in their lives. Whether they lived on a farm or in a town, they did one thing and one thing only at a time. Today we multi-task most of the time.  Our bodies and brains were just not designed to work under so much pressure, so we get stressed.

Try to create a safe haven every day where you focus on one project at a time,  while shutting down all other distractions. This will give your body and mind the calm they need and you will find that you get things done.

Easy does it.

I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.  Jennifer Yane

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