Manage your stress by managing you!
Stress will kill you! Stress management is definitely a buzz phrase in today’s society. We read in the news and on the internet how to reduce our stress with “these 10 easy steps” or “how to take control of your stress”. Most of us do try hard to reduce our stress, but a stressless life seems to be elusive.
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One of the most popular self-help books is by Stephen Covey called “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” helps to create strategies to improve your stress. Stephen looked at the research and literature for the last 200 years on public image and how to improve your life. He states that our character is a collection of our habits, and habits have a powerful role in our lives. Habits consist of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge allows us to know what to do, skill gives us the ability to know how to do it, and desire is the motivation to do it. In order to be happy and successful we need to have certain traits rooted in our character, but how do we build knowledge, skill, and desire when we are stressed? If we break stressors down into two categories, it becomes manageable. The two types of stressors include the Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. We define Circle of Concern as concerns that we have no control over like the weather and other people’s opinions of us. Circle of Influence is defined as concerns that we can do something about. These are things that we have control over like our attitude, actions towards others, and who we surround ourselves with.
Those who focus on their Circle of Influence tend to be more proactive people. They take responsibility for their own lives. Their behaviors are functions of their decisions, not their conditions. These people work on things they can control and ignore what they can’t control. Proactive people have “can do” mentality, “I can be better.” “I can be more.” “I can do this.” Change starts from within, and highly effective people make the decision to improve their lives through the things that they can influence rather than by simply reacting to external forces.
Those who focus on their Circle of Concern tend to be more reactive people. They neglect the issues under their control and instead expend energy on deflecting responsibility away from themselves. Their behavior is a function of the conditions of their life and if things are not going their way its not their fault. Reactive people have a mentality of, “If I have this I would be happy”, “If I made more money I would be happy” or” if I had a better boss”.
The big difference between proactive and reactive is whether you are being acted upon or acting. This largely affects the outcomes in your life. Let’s give an example of this that is applicable to real life. You go to your medical doctor and you get diagnosed with Type II diabetes. You have two options. Option 1: You blame your diagnosis on genetics, parents or your financial situation and you take medicine for the rest of your life and continue with the status quo. Option 2: You realize your current situation is a product of all the decisions you’ve made (including genetics, parents, and finances) and you take action toward resolving the problem you are faced it. You know that if you exercise and eat well that you can improve your diagnosis.
Here is your one thing to do. Create a list of the top five things that stress you out and put each of those stressors into one of the two categories we mentioned. The Circle of Influence or the Circle of Concern. Whichever stressful event falls into the Circle of Concern work towards letting it go. You do not have control over it and therefore you cannot change it. Focus on growing your Circle of Influence which will lead to a healthier mindset and attitude.