How To Attain Higher Levels Of Stress Tolerance.
All of us, in our lives, face enormous amounts of stress each day.
11th May 2018 is one of the days I still remember vividly. It had almost been a year since I started handling three modules of coursework, building and running two companies from scratch, taking out time for small personal projects, and managing sleep and social commitments.
Each day had been a roller coaster ride of stress, anxiety, disappointment and a sense of achievement. The mornings usually started with follow-ups and execution of tasks, and the nights ended with demarcating the tasks and checklist for the next day.
In spite of the laborious tasks, I always felt excited and grateful to be doing what I loved. Yet, on 11th May, I felt devastated. I kept lying on my bed and felt no motivation within me to get up and continue with the day’s tasks.
That was the first time I actually felt the burden of stress and commitments. To my surprise, this wasn’t just a phase. This apparent burnout cost me weeks of productivity, and I had to put in everything I had in me to come out of the slump.
All of us, in our lives, face enormous amounts of stress each day. The stress could arise from situations in professional, personal, financial or love life, or, perhaps, from a mixture of all four.
Even though we face so much stress, there are very few people, who consciously put an effort to neutralize the stress in their lives. Generally, we are told that one can deal with stress by playing an instrument, or by playing video games or sports. Stress outlets work for some people and don’t work for others.
Yet, the purpose of this post is not to help you find an outlet or debate their efficacy, but rather about helping you condition and wire your brain in such a way that you can consciously deal with stress at any moment in your life.
But before I start, I would like to point out that I am no personal growth hacker or guru.
Actually, I am far from it.
So rather than thinking that the advice below is from a guru, who will help you eradicate stress from your life, take it as advice from a friend, who has been through what you are experiencing now.
Try it, experiment it, see for yourself what works out and what doesn’t, and adapt accordingly.
1. Understand that it is going to end someday in the near future.
I start with this point because it has always given me enormous strength. For example, when I was preparing for my 11th-grade finals, we had absolutely no gaps between the papers and sometimes we had two papers a day.
Given the importance of these exams, I had to absolutely be on my best performance and still survive the entire week.
Every time I sat down to study, the sense of the enormous task ahead would cloud my thinking and distract me. So whenever I was feeling overwhelmed and tired, I would say to myself, “I just have to push myself for a week and it will end after that”.
The ability to know that the discomfort was temporary and the strenuous activity would end in the near future allowed me to feel a sense of relief and push myself harder to complete the goal at hand.
To this, some people would ask, “But what about events like building a company or publishing a book, which takes years to complete?”. Well, the process remains the same.
Rather than focusing on the chunk of the task, one can break it down into smaller pieces of tasks with a defined ending and a short break period in between. This way you can enhance your productivity, decrease your stress and work in short bursts of quality.
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2. Understand that people around the world are suffering and facing bigger problems.
How many times do we let missing our regular bus, spilling coffee over our favorite sneaker or differences of ideology or opinion in our personal and professional life, ruin our day and induce enormous stress in our lives? At least for me, it is most of the times.
Thus, these small events in our day impact the rest of our day negatively.
It’s human nature to feel that our problems are the biggest problems in the world. But I implore you to just ask the person right next to you about the problems in their life, and you would be surprised how easy you have it in life.
Even if you are uncomfortable doing this small activity, try looking at children in Africa facing drought or people who had had their entire families killed in a car crash or a terrorist attack.
Now, I don’t want to belittle anyone’s problem. What I want to say is that when your practice the above-mentioned activity, your entire perspective towards your problem changes and it instills in you a sense of gratitude, which will help you navigate any problem in life.
3. Understand that you aren’t alone.
There are 7.5 billion people on earth at this point in time. Billions have lived before you. The chances that somebody faced a very similar issue and documented it is very high. So take help.
Try reading books about people, who faced a similar issue or are an expert on that topic. For example, if health is your stressor, try reading books about people who went through the same condition and understand what they did to become healthy again.
Try meeting with those people and gain a deeper understanding of what needs to be done.
Every problem can be solved, so seek out the required resources and use them to conquer your problem.
4. Inculcate an “I come from nothing” mindset
This has by far been the nuclear weapon in my arsenal. As a student, I was pretty average during the initial part of my school life. In 7th grade, I ended up with a 79% overall.
Since then, I have struggled and worked hard to reach a level, and due to that finished 10th grade with 97%.
This achievement gave me huge confidence in my capabilities and helped me build a mindset that if I want to achieve anything, I will. I don’t shy away from taking huge risks, working long hours and doing things in a non-traditional way.
This has helped me become immune to failures as I know that whenever I fall down, I have it in me to get everything back in a better and more efficient fashion. Thus, when I have nothing to lose, the stress automatically disappears.
Photo by Agnieszka Boeske on Unsplash
5. Think of yourself as a vessel of action for the universe.
Before you pin me down for the uber philosophical headline, let me explain. What I mean by the above headline is to build a mindset, that what is meant to happen to me, is happening and is taking me closer to what I wish to become.
For example, since the past two years, I have been working 12 hour work days every day. But rather than seeing it as something I need to do, I see how it is setting me up for success.
Because I want to become an entrepreneur, all the work right now is helping me build core values like persistence, work ethic, and time management.
We, as a society, love the idea of control. We want to control every aspect of our lives. When things go out of control, we start stressing and becoming anxious. Thus, the best way to tackle stress is to let go of the need to control everything and trust the journey you are a part of.
Thus, sustaining this mindset would help you bring and maintain a solid amount of positivity in the time of peril.
6. Have an unrelenting self-image
We have a habit of defining ourselves with various phrases that are hurled at us. No sooner than someone calls us fat and ugly, we start defining our very existence as fat and ugly.
What I do is very simple. I put forward a very simple yet clear self-image and maintain that irrespective of what outside forces may say. The advantage of this is that you no longer fear other’s judgment of your failures.
This sense of no fear gives you a radical advantage of taking high risks and high-stress activities, and yet be okay with failing.
With all that said, I would say that whenever you encounter stress in your life, try coming back to this article and using these techniques to navigate through stress.
Over time, it will become a subconscious function to tackle stress as soon as possible, it will help you stay away from the negative effects of stress, and bring happiness and positivity in your life.
This article was originally published by Shreyas kharbanda on medium.