When it comes to creating change in your life you can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you are.
So where are you on the stress spectrum? How do you rate your stress from a scale of 1-10? What the heck is even stressing you out?
These are the questions I asked myself daily at the start of my mental wellbeing journey. I synthesized my learnings into three simple steps which has become The Stress Detox 3D Framework and the foundation of my highly rated Udemy course and workplace stress management training.
This is where the magic happens.
To effectively do something about the stress you are experiencing in your life you must first pinpoint what is stressing you out, i.e. where stress is hidden in your life.
You might be thinking, I know what’s stressing me out and start going down your list of stressors
- etc. etc.
These are huge areas of life that can seem overwhelming to address, and may actually lead to increased stress and so goes the vicious cycle.
What do you do? Put on your 3D glassess (not included with this post) and let’s dive in…
1. Develop Self Awareness
We have been conditioned since a young age to look outside ourselves for everything – our worth, value, love, esteem, confidence has all been outsourced. The scary part is we don’t know WHO it’s been outsourced to, especially with the rise of social media, just about anyone and everyone can affect our ego. It’s no wonder one of the top stressors we face these days is the question “What is my purpose?” which is close cousin of “Who am I?” .
As I mentioned earlier “You can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you are” so where are you? In order to know where you are you need to have some self awareness. You need to get super real with yourself and know how you feel.
How you feel is being communicated to you ALL THE TIME by the one and only wearable device that you carry with you 24/7 (no, it’s not your phone), it’s your inner wisdom, your inner compass, inner gps.. call it what you want… it’s in there, and it’s telling you (possibly screaming at you at this point) about how you feel.
When we develop our awareness through practices like meditation, we are able to slow down for just a split second and in that pause we hear what our body is telling us. Over time as we hone in on our awareness we are able to pick up more and more information, it’s incredible! It’s like that movie sixth sense, we literally can feel stress coming on well in advance and do something about it before it steam rolls over us.
The key to self awareness is strengthening your awareness muscle and turning on your internal flashlight. This happens through a consistent meditation practice. Sure, there are other ways, but the research shows breath focused meditation literally strengthens your brain, so I stick to meditation.
2. Discover Hidden Stressors
Now that your awareness muscle is ready to work and your internal flashlight is shining bright it’s time to look under the hood and discover hidden stressors.
Hidden stressors are like the levers that control your high level stressors, these are the ones that operating in the back ground of your life. This is where change can happen.
For example, let’s say your stressor is “work” well without knowing what about work is actually triggering you it’s difficult to make change happen. Sure you can find a new job, but I guarantee the same stressor will re-emerge with a different look.
This is because you my friend are in a relationship with that stressor and it must be acknowledged and addressed in order to shift.
Once you hone in your awareness you can now notice when you begin to notice your stress response system being activate while at work.
Let’s say you notice that you feel extra anxious on Tuesday mornings. In the discovery phase you’ll ask yourself “what happens on Tuesday mornings” In asking that question you realized you have a meeting with a colleague every Tuesday at 10am.
Okay, now ask yourself is there anything about that meeting that’s uncomfortable?
These questions begin to peel back the layers so you can get to the core of your stress. In this example let’s say you are annoyed with your colleague because he/she talks down to you.
Ding ding ding… Now we have something to work with.
3. Do something about it
Once you’ve discovered your hidden stressors, the actual levers that control your stress, it’s time to do something about it.
Traditionally stress management programs start here and offer recommendations of yoga, meditation, self care, massage, relaxation, etc. Although great, these techniques often end up working like bandaids offering temporary relief while the underlying issue continues to activate you.
These days much of our stress is related to interpersonal conflict or inner dialogue. Basically how we communicate with others and how we communicate with ourselves makes up the bulk of our burden of stress.
Actually, I should rephrase that to say “lack of communication” because that’s what’s happening in the workplace. We haven’t been taught healthy conflict resolution skills which leads to a lot of passive aggressive or avoidant behavior which leads to an emotionally/mentally unsafe environment which leads to stress (and loss of productivity). Add in there somewhere the inner dialogue that is layered on top of this dynamic “It must be me, what did i do, i’m not good enough…” and it’s no wonder we are facing a stress epidemic!
In order to really do something about it we need to set healthy boundaries, communicate those boundaries, move from criticism to curiosity, and treat people like people.
Sure someone will get defensive, sure someone won’t want to talk to you, and sure there is no guarantee that the issue will be resolved. But at least you are operating from a solution oriented place and doing the best you can. Plus, the alternative sounds much worse in my opinion.
Who wants to come to work and get the cold shoulder by their colleague, NO THANK YOU.
Put it to the test
Take the challenge, apply the Stress Detox 3D framework for one week, build your awareness, monitor your stress levels, see if you can notice your own symptoms of stress as they arise, and do something to stop it in its track.
What did you learn about yourself? Post to comments …
Peace & Love