A New, Proven Approach for Dealing with Stress in the Modern Workplace

You’ve probably encountered situations where 2 people who have the same boss, same job, same abilities — but one person is completely stressed out, while the other person is not.

How is this possible?

Seeking an answer to this question led Dr. Derek Roger to initiate what has become a 30-year program of research on resilience, and to develop the Challenge of Change Resilience Training.™

What his research showed is that the difference between the 2 people in the scenario is possible because the major factor that determines your stress levels is not what exists “out there” in the environment, but what is happening “in here” in your thinking.

So, your boss is not stressful; your reaction to him or her is.

The good news is that once you understand stress is something you create, then you also start to see it is not inevitable.

You can learn to work in extremely high pressure situations and not feel stressed. In fact, you probably can recall times in your personal or professional life when you stayed calm and focused despite the high pressure of the situation.

Is Planning for the Future Stressful?

Planning for the future (or reviewing the past, if you do so without negative emotion), is what we call reflection. It is a positive and important thing to do. If we didn’t plan, we would not be able to function well or achieve very much.

The key question, though, is, Do you consciously plan, and then come back into the present? Or is your planning really just worrying about upcoming events? That is the difference between reflection and rumination. Visually, you might look at your thinking like this:

Infographic: Reflection or Rumination?

Does “Good” Stress Motivate You to Perform?

That is simply pressure. Some demand in your environment can help motivate you to perform. Just don’t let that demand turn into rumination. Sports psychologists know that picturing the bad outcomes you don’t want, such as striking out or missing the putt, puts you on a path to failure, not to peak performance. The same goes for leaders; be aware of the demands, but don’t ruminate on them.

So, the first step for reducing your stress and becoming more resilient is understand the number one reason you’re stressed and how to change it: how much time you now spend ruminating about things that produce no useful outcomes. Once you realize this, you are ready for a new way of living and working. It’s called wakefulness.

When daydreaming, you are off in your head thinking about some event in the past or future. We are all familiar with experiences like this because they happen to us every day. What we are less aware of is just how much of our day, or even our lives, is spent in this semiconscious state.

In this state – in waking sleep – people are neither fully awake nor fully asleep. The person is in the room with you but unaware of what is going on. They may be able to communicate with you, but they are flashing back to their daydreams continually.

People spend as much as 70% of their daytime hours in this state. Why does this matter? Because this is the state in which all of your rumination, and therefore all of your stress, is generated.

If all rumination and stress is created in the state of waking sleep, the first step in getting out of it is simple: wake up! For specific steps to help you do this, read the full white paper, Wake Up! The Surprising Truth about What Drives Stress and How Leaders Build Resilience.”

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