One Simple Secret To Prepare You For A Stressful Day (It's ONE word!)
In today's post I want to share with you my best tips on how to prepare for a stressful day.
I know from experience that waking up before a stressful day can be a real struggle. It's that vulnerable moment when you're energies are low, your mind is foggy and your judgment is clouded. This is the time of the day when you're most exposed to feelings of dread, dizziness and nausea.
But you know that you can't succumb to any of those feelings because one way or another you have to overcome your fears, push through and get things done. So how do you do that? Do you just will through it every single day or is there another way to trick your mind into relaxation and letting go of anxiety?
The Willpower Myth
As Tony Schwartz the brilliant co-author of the book The Power of Full Engagement says, "anything that you need willpower to do for a long time, you won't be doing for a long time."
And I couldn't agree more with it. Willpower is overrated. It is the most precious resource that we have but we have very little of it. Each day we get a tiny bit of willpower and for the most part we squander it on meaningless tasks.
Don't get me wrong, willpower is a very valuable mental resource that you should treasure and use in a smart way. But it's not going to help you develop long term habits.
It's just like those diets that make you eat nothing but vegetables and fruits all day. It could be good for your health and you might be able to pull it off for a couple of days with enough willpower but are you going to be able to sustain it for a lifetime? I doubt it.
As Jeff Cavaliere, the amazing fitness coach says, "if you're on a diet, it means that you're going to be off that diet soon."
You can use your willpower to help you overcome roadblocks in your life and help you face difficult one-time challenges. But in the long-run it's not going to keep you going.
So as you open your eyes early in the morning only to be flooded by images of the worst-case scenario for the day flashing through your mind, relying on the brute force of your willpower to get you through that stressful day is not a sustainable approach.
How to Change the Way You Think
So let me share with you a very simple trick that you can do instead. I read it in an article somewhere a long time ago and it works wonders.
Whenever you find yourself overflowing with dread, powerlessness, dizziness and nausea in the morning I want you to do this: stop thinking that you're stressed out or anxious. Both these words have a lot of negative baggage attached to them. If you think of yourself as someone who's struggling with anxiety, you're going to be that person.
You see, anxiety is a very loaded concept and unfortunately it's mostly negative. For example, there are people who might think that people like us just want to "play it safe." And even on a personal level you've probably experienced others making fun of you or making snide remarks about you because of your anxiety. It's definitely a challenging condition to be in and your memories of it are probably supercharged with negative emotions.
And because of that, the thought of anxiety is enough to make you feel anxious. And that's because the way the human mind works. Whenever you think about anxiety, your mind remembers what it's like to feel anxious and stressed out. It re-creates images from your past of what it has been like to feel scared, powerless and threatened. And so just remembering it can actually make you feel anxious.
Let's try a quick experiment to demonstrate this. I'm going to instruct you to do something now and I want you to do it as best as you can, okay? Here it goes:
Do NOT think of a pink elephant.
You've already thought of one.
So the first thing this experiment shows us is that the human mind works with images. What this means is that just by planting an idea into your head, your brain makes an image of it and remembers a lot of the experiences that you have had with that thing.
The second thing that you can take away from this small experiment is that it's impossible to convince yourself that you're NOT feeling anxious. Your brain doesn't work that way. It's just going to be the pink elephant all over again.
As Karl Jung, the revolutionary psychiatrist said "What you resist, persists."
One Simple Mindset Tweak
So what you want to do is, as soon as you wake up and you know it's going to be a tough day, you're going to reframe the way you think about your feelings. You want to make sur you don't give your mind a chance to recall your negative experiences with anxiety inside your head.
What you need to do is tell yourself that what you're feeling is EXCITEMENT, not anxiety. Yeah, that's right. Changing one simple word in your vocabulary is all you need to do.
And let's be honest guys, excitement and anxiety are like the two sides of the same coin. But by focusing on feeling excited instead of feeling anxious, you immediately let go of all the negative emotions that are growing inside of you.
It takes a little bit of practice to get it right, but it works. Just make sure you focus on how much you're going to learn from this stressful event and how relieved you're going to feel once it's over.
I learned a concept from Eben Pagan, the brilliant marketing genius that I think you'll find valuable. It talks about four types of things that we humans consume.
The first thing we consume is water. We pay very close attention to the quality of the water that goes into our system. Dirty water can make us sick so we make sure that the water that we actually drink is crystal clean.
The second thing that we consume is food. We try our best to eat healthy meals to make sure that we have plenty of energy. Unhealthy foods can make us sick so we try to eat unprocessed organic foods that are healthy.
The third thing we consume is air. Dirty air can make us sick, too and so we keep the air that we breathe clean. We don't even consciously have to think about the air we breathe because clean air is in such abundance in the world.
And the fourth thing we consume is impressions. Unhealthy and negative ideas can also make us sick. But for some reason, we don't seem to care about this one. But the quality of impressions we let into our system are just as important as the quality of air we breathe, the quality of the food we eat and the quality of the water we drink.
So guard your thoughts carefully.
That's all for today guys. I hope you found today's post useful. If you need any more help, just let me know and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.