Stress gets a bad rap these days. However, recent studies have shown that it can actually be a helpful source of performance motivation (if we believe it is). Every business leader, entrepreneur, and all-around badass I know feels some element of stress every single day.
As you take on big goals, feelings of performance pressure and risk increase. Naturally.
The game shouldn’t be about not feeling any stress, but rather about managing the stress we do feel so that it can fuel us. Stress can also inform us about what we care about most, where our boundaries are, and the directions in which we authentically want to go.
From the Enneagram, we can see that there are nine distinct – healthy – ways of responding to stress. Here are some tidbits on each:
There’s often a thought about doing things “right” or “perfect” that sends One’s into hyper-production mode. You may feel ultra-critical of yourself and others. Identify that pesky thought or belief that won’t let up on you. Examine it. See how you can gently let it go. Soften.
Everyone struggles and their pain is not yours. Reflect on the people and issues that mean the most to you, offer your generosity there, and lovingly step back from the rest. Hold your boundary with respect and grace.
Notice the insatiable energy to add value, be seen, do something fabulous, and/or prove your worth. Put your hand on your heart. Feel the insatiability of that drive and see if you can find a moment to pump the breaks. To feed your heart. I promise, taking a break and directing some loving kindness towards yourself won’t ruin your momentum. On the contrary.
Find some time alone to reflect, recharge, acknowledge your deepest feelings, and nurture your creative heart. Being around others in superficial ways can zap you quickly. Honor your needs for deep connection and solitude. Find a trusted friend you can confide in to help you feel emotionally balanced. Also, seek out structures to support you in moving forward on your highest priority tasks.
Put your feet on the ground. Feel your body in this moment. Observe your inner voice and the fear it generates about not knowing enough and what’s scarce. See if you can find some space between that fear-monger and locate a single focus for exploring and engaging. Practice expressing your genuine feelings.
Take a slow, deep breath. Anchor yourself in your chair, feet on the ground, back supported. Connect with your inner knowing and intuition. Find the place in yourself you trust. Listen for the wisdom inside you. When the wheels spin, go within.
Often, there’s a quick onramp from positive visioning and hyper-spin out. Notice where you are right now. Get back into your body and into the present moment. Quiet the noise and ask the question, “What matters most in this moment right now?” Find relief in focus, even if just for a minute.
Step back, even step outside. Find a way of physically getting your energy out that is productive for you and others. Honor your big feelings. Write them down. Now, where can you soften? Put your hands on your gut and heart. What do they tell you about where to move next?
Take a moment alone and check in with yourself. Scan your body for tension. What are your instincts telling you about what you need? Find one action you can take that will support you in moving forward and out of “stuckness.” Grab a buddy to help you stay accountable to yourself.
May the gods of presence and wellbeing be with you, fellow warrior.
You’ve got this. And I’ve got you.
To your thriving,
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