The one hour blog post. Decreasing Stress NOW!

I haven’t posted to my blog for a while, I regret that. I want this blog to have excellent pieces of writing, however, I now realize I spent too much time finding that ‘perfect topic’ and didn’t spend enough time writing.

This is my first one hour blog post. I sat down at my computer and I have exactly one hour to publish a piece of writing you (my reader) will find interesting, on a topic that I (the author) find very interesting.

I have been thinking a lot about how… I have to pause. I just received an email from a recruiter I have been talking to. I obviously need to deal with this, however, since life is all about little interruptions I will continue to stick to the hour rule.

I have been thinking about the most effective and efficient ways to improve one’s life and why people prefer to continue with the somewhat happiness when a large increase in happiness is just within their grasp. I have spent the last few weeks applying the ideas I will discuss to my own life, trying to nudge myself out of bad, old habits into ones that I think will drastically improve my smile count, help me to have a larger spring in my step and have me jumping out of bed in the morning with excitement to start the day.

I have divided life improvements into a few of categories:
• Decreasing stress
• Positively increasing how others perceive you
• Have more time and do more things that you truly enjoy

This first hour blog post will deal with the first issue. Stress is a big deal and major drain on some people.

Well, the most obvious way to reduce stress (for me) is stopping or reducing the activity which is causing the stress.
First, you need to clearly define what the issue is. You need to find the root issue and not the vague gut instinct. I do this by constantly defining my current state; in fact this is a favorite activity of mine. Defining my current state helps me prioritize daily tasks and is a form of introspection. Grab a notepad and you can follow along too.

Stress-busting activity (example below)
Step1: Write down a basic emotion you are feeling. Negative, stupid, lonely, angry, whatever. Why are you that way? You can find out by playing the ‘why game’ (I first heard about this as a creativity exercise for stimulating creative thought during my creativity class at UW taught by https://twitter.com/#!/lccarson). You continually ask the question WHY and drill down to the core issue. Make sure you don’t get caught up in a loop, continually try and drill down in the issue instead of repeating yourself.

Step2: So now we have drilled down to an issue, instead of this vague feeling of agitation, we have an issue we can tackle. GREAT! Remember! An issue that you can fix is something that is within your control! Do not stop the ‘Why activity’ until you have something you can control, it is useless to waste your time and energy fretting over situations you can’t control. Restate the issue so you have it clearly defined. Also define an ideal goal and focus on that vision and direction.
Step3: Okay we have an issue, now we need a solution. In my opinion, find the easiest and most basic solution to implement and try that first and correct along the way. Obviously this doesn’t work in all situations, but a lot of people (myself included) make mountains out of mole hills. They fret and worry about some confrontation or issue and build it up in their mind, and in most cases the solution is simple and easy to do! Everyone is living life, its one big adventure for us all, make decisions and correct course along the way.

Example
Next, I will work through these Steps using the common issue of not getting along with a co-worker:
Step1:

I am feeling agitated

Why?

I dread going into work

Why?

I don’t like this person I work with

Why?

This person is always short with me and makes me feel inferior

Why?

That’s her personality; she is concise and maybe unaware how her comments affect me

Why?

I haven’t said anything to her

Step2: AHA! Remember! You can’t control this person’s personality but you can control how it makes you feel and you can control your own actions. This issue is: “I haven’t spoken to my coworker about how her comments negative affect me.” The ideal goal is to have a positive working relationship with my co-worker.

Step 3: Find a solution! Try to find a solution on your own however, if you are truly struggling recruit a friend or get a second opinion from a family member. I would advise against recruiting a co-worker for this example because you don’t want to blow the situation out of proportion or start gossiping. Both situations are not ideal and gossiping is useless. As you know, in my opinion, the easiest and most basic solution should be tried first and you can correct along the way. Obviously take this advice with a grain of salt and your mileage may vary, but instead of talking to her manager and formally filing a complaint, in passing say “Hey ___, Do you have a moment to sit down and talk, I feel that our professional relationship could use some work I’d like to discuss some things to improve it”.

Seriously, it’s as simple as that. Don’t think: ‘what if she says this’ and prepare for a million different scenarios, simply define your issues in basic, simple language and ask her to have the conversation, that way she doesn’t feel ambushed and you two can have a real conversation.

Times up! My next one hour blog post will deal with the other categories I have outlined on how to improve life:
• Positively increasing how others perceive you
• Have more time
• Do more things that you truly enjoy

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or shoot me a tweet or email.

All my best.
-nick
(initial draft completed at 2:10pm, final editing completed at 2:24pm)