"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."
--William James, American psychologist
A good friend sent me a great YouTube link recently -- a visual lecture titled: The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do To Manage Stress, by Dr. Mike Evans.
Any guesses as to what the single most important thing might be? Possible contenders:
- How much control you think you have in your life
- Your social network (in the traditional sense)
- Openness to change
- Self care choices such as physical exercise, optimism, and humor
Dr. Mike thinks the single most important factor in managing stress is:
Changing the Way You Think
Most people think that stress is something that happens to us, but really we create stories about what happens to us:
- My job is stressful.
- This conversation will be hard.
- I don't have a chance of passing this test.
- That guy hates me!
And those stories create stress.
Stress management is a skill that can be learned.
And Dr. Mike suggests some ways to do this:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) -- learning to watch the stories you tell yourself about the events in your life and to tell yourself a different story.
- Mindfulness Courses -- Breathing - Awareness - Meditation - Being in the moment - Letting go of worry.
- Attitude/Outlook on life -- Seeing challenges as stepping stones not stumbling blocks.
- Writing/Journaling -- writing your personal narrative.
- Keep it Simple -- regular sleep, eating well, exercise, altruism.
And remember the 90/10 rule:
10% of how we do in life is based on what happens to us, and 90% is how we respond.
But, hey, invest 11 minutes and watch the video. It's graphically beautiful and fun.
"Challenges will always be out there -- that's life -- but your thoughts and attitudes are the key holders for the stress you experience." -- Dr. Mike Evans