17 February 2013

Before you say you never get stressed, you might want to consider the possibility that you are not pushing yourself hard enough.

Stress is an important ingredient in the process of improving. Without stress, we wouldn’t develop.

That being said, it’s something I hate with a passion and avoid at all costs.

In my line of work, and due to my type of personality, stress is potentially all around me. In fact, if I didn’t have a mechanism to diffuse and distract myself from it, I wouldn’t be as far into the journey as I am now.

Firstly, you have to identify what stresses you. Stress comes from uncertainty. When you constantly know the outcome for something, it becomes boring and you switch off. In these situations, we inevitably start taking more on; we learn to juggle tasks and eventually we overstretch ourselves until suddenly we are dropping stuff and letting people down, causing pain and – guess what – getting stressed!

So the choices: Firstly, do nothing and take on less. Wrong. This will cause stress too as you need challenges. Or secondly, learn to adapt.

Ok, this all sounds really easy but with the kids arguing and your partner wanting attention, and the bills need paying – OMG, will someone just give me a minute!

There is an easier way….

I have learnt a technique so effective that I continually take on far too much in every aspect of my life yet I seem to deal with it, and when things get a little too tough, I just turn up the dial.

How do I do it?

Firstly, you need to understand how your brain works. Stress comes from your subconscious mind not letting go of a thought. It eats away in the background and wastes your quality thinking time. Furthermore, it distracts you from tackling the things that matter most.


Me & my kids playing squash (Pick opponents you’ll beat)

In a perfect world, you’d have a clear head and you’d pick off each item on your list and slowly get on top of your schedule.

With too much on your mind, you need a way of distracting your subconscious and giving yourself the necessary air to breathe and time out.

This is easier said than done when you have massive problems but, actually, this technique is easier to apply than you might realise.

There are a few stages to it depending on the severity but, essentially, you need to resort to things you do that involve you using your brain in different ways.

For example, I use squash to switch off. No matter how tough my life gets, I walk on to court; it’s a square box, it’s a safe haven. I have a coach and for that hour I am not the boss. In fact, I get beasted from one side of the court to another. By running around, you create endorphins in your brain that relax you and, by playing a game, you chase the points and the score and – guess what – you are not thinking about the list of problems awaiting you when you get outside.

And when you do get outside, whilst they haven’t gone away, it’s so much easier to start to pick off the job lists. You will have also burnt off a lot of negative energy.

Snowdon sill faces

On top of Snowdon in the worst weather, 3 ft of snow and we are still smiling or sort of!

If you are a keen runner, you might run with the problems bouncing around your head. The simple way to remove them is to focus on all the things in your life you are grateful for. It’s easy for me; after being resuscitated in an avalanche, I get passionate just about the air I breathe. But if you start listing your kids, your friends, your family members and all the things you have to be thankful for, you soon divert your attention. The reason being: you can only think of one emotion at a time. Whilst its difficult to conjure up “being happy” when the world is on your shoulders, everyone has things they can be grateful for. To stop the negative thoughts from creeping back in, I use a technique that I learned from Tony Robbins, where you repeat incantations, rythmical phrases that you can do in time with your exercise. “Thank you God for the air I breathe” or “All I need is within me now.”

They will not only help you to relax, they will lift your performance too.

So, whether you are running a business or a family, whether you are a mum or a lawyer, or both; in today’s busy lives, things will get on top of us. So try it.

Get to the gym, go for a run, have a game of squash, just get out of the office, or the armchair, and get some fresh air.

The most relaxed businessman I know is Sir Richard Branson, yet with all the millions of decisions and questions he must ask himself and be asked, how does he do it? Is it any coincidence that he spends a few hours of every day to himself playing sport? If he’s not playing tennis, he’s swimming around the island or racing sail boats. The competition element in exercise is a fantastic distraction.

Branson unwinding playing sport

Sir Richard Branson playing tennis on Necker. Avid sports man and successful entrepreneur

Try it and you will wake up years later feeling stronger, looking slimmer and being more in control.

Then, guess what, you need to push yourself harder again.

Just remember what Muhammad Ali said: “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” Take the risks with the confidence that you are able to deal with what’s around the corner. And if you get stuck, give me a call and we can take a hike up the mountains.

Have an awesome week. LJ


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