In this article, we’ll explore the power of your mindset, how you can use your thoughts to shift your perspective and reduce stress, and how by doing so you can lead a more MEANingful life.
Motivation: Flipping the Script
You know how when you’re faced with a challenge or a difficult task, your brain tends to focus on the negatives? It might sound something like “it’s too hard,” “there’s no way you’re going to pull this off” or “you’re not smart enough for this!” This negative self-talk can quickly drain your motivation and leave you feeling defeated before you even start.
Yes, this may be our brain’s automatic process, but there is a way we can override it and maintain your motivation and drive. Just flip the script.
Tip 1: When Your brain gets busy generating all the evidence for you why something won’t work, consider what else is true. For example, you might ask yourself: “What if there was a different way to approach this project?” or “What if I tried a different tool or technique to solve this problem?”
If your negative self-talk results from a sense of self-doubt or uncertainty, revisit past successes and remind yourself of your capabilities. Reflect on a time when you overcame a similar challenge or achieved a difficult goal, and use that experience to inspire confidence and motivation.
What if you’ve never been in a similar situation and you can’t imagine how to solve it? If you need inspiration, seek input and advice from others who have faced similar challenges or who have expertise in the area. This can help you see the task from different perspectives and generate new ideas and solutions.
Tip 2: Instead of focusing on the negatives, consider the positives of the situation. What are the benefits of completing this task or overcoming this challenge? What skills or strengths do you have that will help you succeed?
Tip 3: Focus on the process rather than the outcome. Sometimes we can become overwhelmed when we consider the outcome we want to attain, but don’t know how to get there, or if we think it will take too much time, focus, or effort to get there. In these cases, shift the focus to the process of working towards the outcome rather than the outcome itself. Break the task into smaller, more manageable steps and celebrate progress along the way. What will it take to complete just the first step?
Expectations: Focus on the Data
Expectations can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, having high expectations can motivate us to achieve our goals and push ourselves further. On the other hand, when our expectations are unrealistic or unattainable, we can quickly become discouraged and burnt out.
To manage our expectations, we need to focus on the data. Instead of predicting outcomes based on our hopes or fears, we should look at what’s already happened and make better predictions based on that information. What patterns or trends can you identify based on past performance? What has worked previously and what hasn’t? These data points can give you a sense of what’s likely and prevent your brain from catastrophizing and becoming anxious about the future. When you take a scientific approach to your thinking, you can prevent the disappointment that comes with unattainable expectations.
Activation: Calming Your Nerves
When faced with a stressful situation, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode. We might feel our heart racing, our palms sweating, or our breathing becoming shallow. The trouble is, when we become stressed out in our minds, we induce this physiological response even when it does not serve us. Being in this state for too long takes a toll on your health.
One way to calm our nerves is to take a page out of the SMOKER’s playbook. Here’s what I mean. Smokers often use a break as a way to relax and calm down. They:
Stop what they’re doing
Move their bodies
Exhale longer than they inhale
By using these same techniques, we can quickly turn our physiological response around and reduce our stress levels.
(I)Nterpretation: Choosing Your Perspective
How we interpret a situation can have a significant impact on our stress levels and overall well-being. Every situation can be viewed as either a “threat” or a “challenge.” Because our brain is wired to detect threats, we are more likely to go down the negative rabbit hole of interpretation. But if you recognize your interpretation as a choice, you can decide to see your situation in a different light.
How can you view this as a challenge instead? How can this situation help you grow and improve?
In addition to seeing the situation in a more helpful way, you can also change the way you think about stress.
When you notice yourself feeling stressed out, do you think of that as “good” or “bad”? Stress gets a bad rap, but in truth, some stress is necessary for optimal functioning and performance. When we view stress as a positive force, we can tap into its benefits and use it to our advantage.
Using your mindset to overcome stress and burnout is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals and live a more meaningful life. By focusing on your Motivation, managing your Expectations, Activating yourself, and iNterpreting stress as a challenge, you can harness the power of your mind to overcome any obstacle. So take the time to implement these tips into your life and see how they can make a positive impact on your mental and physical health.
Want me to speak to your organization about managing stress? Check out my keynote, “Make Stress Your Superpower.”
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Dr. Sharon Grossman, AKA the Burnout Doc, is a clinically trained psychologist and subject matter expert in burnout and mental health. Associations and Fortune 500 companies hire her to be their closing keynote speaker, to help their members and executives crack the code on burnout, and create custom-tailored solutions for recovery.
Over the past 20 years, Dr. Sharon has been helping high achievers who are struggling with anxiety, overwhelm, and burnout go from exhausted to extraordinary by better understanding how their brain works and how they can design and run their programming on purpose to live the kind of life they want to live. She is the author of several books on burnout and mindset and host of the Decode Your Burnout podcast. Through her speaking, training, and coaching, she helps organizations keep their top talent.