A Simple Mindset Change to Be Less Stressed
A few years ago, I decided to completely remove the words “stress” or “overwhelm” from my vocabulary. I did this so rigorously, it even feels weird every time when I write those words or when I’m forced to spell them out.
Not using those words resulted in a mindset shift that makes a huge benefit to my life: I feel less stressed and I’m more productive.
And that’s not some fancy superhuman ability, there’s a psychological reason why this works for everyone – and why it has so huge benefits to productivity.
Less stress = more productivity
Let’s first talk about the benefits of eliminating a maximum of stress from your life.
Feeling less stressed is not only beneficial for your well-being – it also makes you more productive.
It’s not only that being more productive makes you less stressed – it works the same the other way.
That’s because stress depletes your mental energy.
We all know the feeling when we’re stressed out or completely overwhelmed: it pulls us down and makes us tired. The problem is: the less mental energy we have, the less we get done.
It’s always the same: you can have the best time management in place and the best strategies and tools – you still won’t get anything done when your energy is low.
The best engine can’t run without fuel or when it’s messed up. And stress messes up our mind (which is the engine).
A second reason why we should decide to eliminate a maximum amount of stress from our lives is: It depletes our ability to focus.
The more things we have on our stressed mind, the less focus we keep on completing the tasks themselves.
Focus is undividable: that means, the more things we need to have an eye on, the less clear and sharp focus remains for each of them.
Less focus on a task means worse and way slower results – which finally leads to even more stress because we don’t get our stuff done.
I hope you understand why it’s vital for your productivity to keep a clear and calm mind – and eliminate stress the best way you can...
And that’s why I chose to don’t use “stress” as a word anymore – it results in a mindset shift that makes you less stressed. The underlying psychological reason for this is the following:
You recognize what your focus lies on
In 1958, psychologist Donald Broadbent developed his filter theory of attention.
There he states that our mind cannot deal with every bit of information that reaches us and therefore filters out certain information for us to recognize.
In further experimenting and research, he found that the filter process also happens through expectation, experience, fear etc.
For example: If you walk through the dark woods and you fear being attacked by an animal, you hear every little crack in the woods or any sound that could be an animal.
That means also, if we fear becoming overwhelmed or stressed out of something – we recognize every hint of stress or overwhelm… And thus, we become more stressed and overwhelmed because in the end everything that reaches our consciousness is something that can stress us.
The mindset shift
What we should do in order to eliminate that unnecessary stress from our lives: Do exactly the opposite.
We must not fear where the next bit of stress may occur – because when we do, we will find it.
Instead, we should look for the positive in everything.
We can seldom change how much we have to do or what is coming up. But we can change the way we think about it.
When there’s a lot to do, most people say something like: “Oh, I have so much to do, this stresses me out.”
And this is exactly the problem: When we say things like that, our expectation is that we’ll be stressed out by those tasks – maybe even before we begin doing them. And again: this makes us stressed out, no matter what.
What we should rather say is something like: “I have a lot to do and I’ll take the challenge” or “I’ll get a lot of stuff done today”.
There we shift our expectation on the positive, expect positive and will preferably recognize the positive. And finally, we’ll have less and less stress and get more and more done while feeling good about it.
That’s the reason why choosing not to use words like “stress” made me more productive.
I always try to use a positive phrasing, even when my schedule is packed – and therefore my brain filters out the positive things to my attention instead of filtering hints of stress.
From now on, beware of how you think about things, what you expect to happen and how you finally talk about them. Shift your focus on the positive – it will make you more productive, less stressed and finally happier with your work.
About the Author
Maurice Leibinn is the creator of Productive Energy Management – a method that helps people get a maximum amount of results in a minimum of time while sustaining their energy and avoiding any kind of overwhelm.
He is a productivity Coach serving serving overworked entrepreneurs and professionals. Read more...
The Psychology Book – Big Ideas (DK, 2011)