A Harvard psychologist offers a simple and effective method to reduce stress instantly.
BY JESSICA STILLMAN
Feel like your life just keeps getting more stressful? You're not alone. Study after study shows that Americans say finding any sort of satisfactory work-life balance is getting harder. These days, adulthood often just isn't much fun, according to research.
There are a ton of reasons for these trends, from economic hardship to technology, and you could debate the primary drivers' of Americans' rising stress levels all day. But there's a more urgent question to ask: is there anything you can practically do about it?
While resetting your boundaries when it comes to your devices or patching the holes in the family budget are big undertakings, it turns out there is one small but effective thing you can do to help you manage your stress levels right now. According to a Harvard psychologist, you just need to ask yourself a single, simple question.
What are two other options?One of the problems with stress is that our minds tend to ruminate about our problems so that the same painful but less-than-constructive thoughts go round and round in our heads. The solution, Harvard's Susan David recently told Good's Tod Perry, is to halt this cycle of pointless worry by asking yourself a single question: What are two other options?
When Davis' clients tell her they're feeling stressed she always answers with the same question: What are two other options? She found that after asking this question to her clients they often report disappointment with their careers or uncover other underlying emotions that intensified their stress. We often lump our emotional problems under the big-tent label of "stress" which prevents us from digging deeper to reveal the bigger picture.
Emotional granularity to the rescueThe technical term for why this works is "emotional granularity." In layperson's language it simply means getting much more specific about your emotions. Instead of a blanket statement like, "I'm stressed," those with high emotional granularity might say, "I'm a little bit disappointed in myself for not bringing home a higher paycheck and also scared about how that might affect my kids' prospects in life."
The second alternative might just sound like a wordier version of the first, but being able to get specific about your feeling helps you figure out solutions and direct your efforts effectively. And that's scientifically proven to make a difference in outcomes.
"Studies show that people who have greater emotional granularity live longer, healthier lives and are less likely to become ill," reports Perry.
So next time you're stressing out, force yourself to focus on the finer granularity of your feelings by asking yourself to consider more options for describing how you feel.
Or, if you're stressed because of a specific upcoming challenge like a big presentation or job interview, try another tack suggested by Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal: mentally re-frame your physical sensations, like a racing heart or sweating palms, as signs of helpful excitement rather than performance-destroying stress. It might seem too easy to be effective, but research suggests this approach actually works.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
PUBLISHED ON: SEP 15, 2016
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PRODUCTIVITY SUCCESS TIME MANAGEMENT WORK
BY DEAN VAKSMAN
At the end of the day, you’ve worked long and hard, and you feel like you have completely and utterly depleted all of your daily energy supplies. Today, just like all other days before it, you will make yourself a lazy TV dinner, watch a show for an hour or two – any show, as long as you’re watching something to distract yourself from the frenzy at work.
All sounds awfully grim, doesn’t it? Well, you can rest assured, you are not doomed to repeat such a lazy daily routine: whether you choose to watch TV for two straight hours each day after work, or just go over Facebook or Instagram until you finally fall asleep, you can actually use some of this time to do something productive!
Doing so will improve your career life, as well as your personal time.
The benefits of making good use of your first hour after work:
First things first: If you spare a single hour after work on something that you count as productive, no matter if it’s learning a new language or building a car model, you will feel fulfilled, and therefore, happier. This will make a significant difference at your in work productivity. A happy worker is a good worker, and sooner or later, your boss will surely notice the difference.
Secondly, you can’t entirely count on learning something new, or practice a hobby during actual work time. Not only that you will constantly be distracted, and your personal gain from it will diminish significantly, but this can also result in an opposite effect on your work productivity, and it may even look like you’re slacking. During after-work time, you are your own boss, and you can make your own rules and channel your time in whatever way you please. It’s during this time that you should dedicate an hour to achieving your goal.
Thirdly, one hour each day can make a colossal difference in the long run. For example, in the case that you are studying a new language for one hour every day, after a year, all of those hours will have made for significant practice time, and you might even be close to full fluency by the end of the year. That makes one language every single year!
And lastly, you should always consider the fact that companies might hire, or promote you, based on what you practiced during all of those single hours. If you studied Italian, for example, to the point of near fluency, you could write that on your resume, and it may prove beneficial to you when you encounter a company that is looking for that particular language skill.
What are the problems that may arise from staying idle?Well, therein lies the problem. Staying idle. So what does staying idle mean? Well, a person that has an idle attitude towards life cannot expect their lives to change. This means, no progression, no goals, no brighter future compared to what they have at the present. To some, they may be fine with what they have already. But if you have any goals or aspirations, then you can’t let yourself get sucked into an idle, daily routine.
A second problem that may arise is that building yourself such a strong, steady, lazy kind of routine, may affect you mentally and even push you into depression. While depression is a significant problem by its own, it will also diminish your work productivity and, as a result, deteriorate your working conditions, such as with your boss-employee relations, or your general work status.
The dedication of just one hour after work a day can make all the difference in your world.
Here’s how you can make good use of your time outside of work:
1. Read: Yes, you read it correctly. It can be anything, from fiction to nonfiction, fantasy to biography, and romance to horror. One hour of reading each day can make for one book every week. The more you read, the more you know. Not only that, but reading can be very fulfilling. It will also improve your conversation topics, and may even give you work-related knowledge that can ultimately boost your actual career.
2. Start personal projects: This one is especially beneficial if your workplace did not already provide you with one. Projects, such as building a website, or doing some volunteering work will reward you with refined personal values, such as learning the meaning of teamwork, how to meet deadlines, and how to handle feedback for your work. All are major traits for a successful career.
3. Make connections: It is well known that connections are an undeniable plus when it comes to either career or personal development. All you need to do is just to go out there and meet people! You can even schedule after-work get-togethers with your co-workers.
All of these are just a small sample of what’s in store for you. Think outside the box and follow your passions!
It’s that easy.
How about some support with changing your routine after work?
Get in touch, together we will explore how to change your routine..
by Art Markman as seen on Fast Company
Most creative people have two things in common:
Think about what happens if you spend a year living in another country.
Chances are, the people speak a different language, so you have to recognize that even the way people communicate in that country differs from where you are from. Their rituals and routines are different. The way they interact socially differs.
When you dive into a second culture, two interesting things happen.
It helps you understand that there are many different ways to achieve a goal, and there are many different goals that people may find are worth achieving.
The key aspect of learning to adapt to a new culture is not that you have to decide which approach is better. Rather, you recognize that everything in the world can be looked at in many different ways.
Galinsky and his colleagues demonstrate that people who have spent time adapting to more than one culture are better able to generate new ideas both in laboratory studies and in corporate settings.
What does this mean for you?
By Mark Markman - Fast Company
Work in a multi-national team
A Practical Handbook