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..
The answer to that question is: to you. You are choosing yourself as the priority - that is the bottom line of learning how to say “no”.
It can happen without you even noticing that your life no longer feels as though it is your own. Overwhelming work demands, busy family schedules, even modern technology seem to add stress by making us accessible all the time. Everything else becomes a priority, while you and your own personal life, values, beliefs, thoughts, wishes, and dreams come in second place, if not third. Your attention ends up being stretched in too many directions with no time left to think about yourself. The result is stress leading to more stress and hopefully not a burnout. I like to think of the much bigger picture of life when it comes to the understanding, motivation and learning of how to respect yourself in the first instance.
By no stretch of the imagination does this mean you will be disrespecting others and/or their wishes or job demands. It means you respect yourself and hold yourself in equal position to others. If you are thoughtful, openhearted and conscientious about how you treat people and your job, then surely you can only really give it your best if you are in
These are the most common reasons people say “yes” when in fact “no” might serve better:
Which ones apply in your case?
Ask the following questions to motivate yourself:
Which facets of your life feel the most neglected due to the consequences of saying “yes” too often?
For example, saying “no” to an offer to go out because what you really need is time at home for yourself. By saying “no”, you are giving yourself that time.
by Suzie Doscher from BALANCE - Interactive Workbook for Self-Coaching
By Martin / Cleverism
There are several measures that have been proven to improve one’s Emotional Quotient once adhered to. These measures are:
Reduction of Negative Emotions
This is perhaps the most important aspect of EQ. This is because it is paramount that one be in control of their emotions in order to ensure that they do not affect their judgment. In order for an individual to be in a position to change how they feel about a certain situation, they must first be able to change how they think about it.
Reduction of negative emotions begins with the Reduction of Negative Embodiments. This refers to situations where one feels adversely towards another person or their actions. In such a situation, it is important to avoid negative conclusions in your mind as much as possible. Rather, practice the art of viewing a situation through multiple dimensions prior to reacting to it.
For example, it may be tempting to conclude that a certain colleague failed to return my phone call because they are ignoring me but it would be better to conclude that they are caught up and they will phone back whenever they can. When one avoids taking other people’s actions personally, they are able to look at those actions from an objective point of view. Note that people’s actions are inspired by their own selves more than they are by us; this perception widens your perspective and reduces the possibility and occurrence of misunderstandings.
Additionally, Reducing Fear of Rejection drives away negative emotions and boosts your EQ. One sure way to reduce fear of rejection is by availing multiple options for yourself in crucial situations. This is to ensure that no matter what the outcome may be, there are equally strong options at your disposal. This will eliminate any negative emotions such as anxiety or depression.
For example, if you are applying for a dream job, apply in numerous different organizations; therefore, if one does not work out, the other options may still be open to you, hence relieving you of a lot of angst.
Staying Calm and Managing StressWe all experience stress, be it at different levels. How you handle stressful scenarios is what determines whether you are an assertive or a reactive person; a poised or an unstable person. When under any kind of pressure, your most important asset is your ability to keep a level head.
EQ is the ability to stay calm while handling extremely stressful situations. There are various practices that can be employed to keep yourself calm, for example, avoiding caffeinated beverages that may heighten your nervousness; instead, maintaining a cool temperature around yourself may be far more effective in reducing one’s anxiety or nervousness.
In addition, exercise is a great stress reliever and helps reduce your physical tension, energizes you, keeps you collected, and enables you to deal with stressful situations in the calmest way possible; thereby boosting your EQ in the process.
Remaining Assertive and Expressing Difficult Emotions
As much as it is good to get along with the people we interact with, to develop healthy emotional quotient, you also need to be assertive and expressive and be able to set appropriate boundaries in order for people to understand where you stand in when you encounter one another.
This entails exercising your right to disagree without necessarily being disagreeable, or being able to say ‘no’ where appropriate without having to feel guilty. Boosting EQ demands that one set their own priorities and protecting oneself from any forms of duress or harm.
As an additional pointer; when being assertive, it is important to avoid framing statements in such a way that they come off as accusations or judgments because they automatically put the recipient on the defensive, which may result in an unnecessary altercation.
Each individual, no matter how socially inept, has at least one person that they have given they trust and who almost understands them as intimately as they understand themselves.
In scenarios that are stressful, and in situations where you feel overwhelmed by the pressure, it helps to reach out to that individual and ask for a perspective beyond your own; an objective perspective.
This activity will eventually train you to handle situations in an objective manner, hence boosting your emotional quotient even without your awareness.
Constantly trying to handle stressful situations on your own is not independence, it is limiting. It leads to a situation where you are never open to other approaches but your own; therefore, hampering any form of growth in your EQ. Often, all it takes is an external opinion to work through a scenario that is ongoing in your mind.
Bouncing Back from Adversity
Understand that life is not necessarily easy; at least not all the time, and how we choose to feel or act in response to life’s challenges can makes all the difference between optimism and frustration; hope and despair; victory and defeat. It is important that you look at every situation, especially the negative ones, as a learning experience. Ask yourself, “How can I do better?” “What have I Learnt?” In the immortal words of Thomas Edison, “I have not failed; I have found ten thousand ways that do not work.” Thomas A. Edison went on to invent the light bulb. Adopting this perception on life is one of the strongest ways to boost your EQ and go on to live a successful and fulfilling life.
Develop a Genuine Interest in the People around You
Another way to boost your emotional quotient is by learning to develop a genuine and keen interest in the people and the world around you.
For example, in a work environment you should not only strive to learn the names of everyone you interact with but reach out to them and strive to learn as much as possible about them. It is proven that there is a satisfaction or fulfillment that human beings draw from establishing meaningful connectionsand relationships with others.
Showing genuinely friendly interest in the lives of colleagues or associates is not only advantageous to you but to them too. When you reach out to people, they feel valued as human beings and not mere cogs in a machine.
The kind of fulfillment drawn from making such a connection or relationship, therefore, is experienced by two parties and can act as a stress reliever, drive away any feelings of anxiousness or depression, improve productivity, and ultimately boost EQ levels.
IN A NUTSHELL
Our ability to use reasonably soft skills and approaches in situations boosts our Emotional Quotient (EQ). In turn, this boost in EQ enables us to handle future situations in a better, healthier, and mature manner. EQ is a sense of internal balance that enables you to keep your composure, make the right decisions, and communicate successfully even when under stress. EQ is a major determinant of the quality of the life that you live as well as your likelihood for success in both your career and personal life. For this reason, it is imperative that you understand emotional quotient intimately as well as the various ways in which we can boost it constantly.
Emotional Quotient can be said to be the best predictor of performance in any workplace situation, the determinant of effective leadership, and individual excellence. When our EQ is effectively increased and applied, we realize our ability to cultivate more solid relationships both personally and in the business arena. Relationships, and more specifically their quality, are a colossal determinant of the success of any endeavor we delve in and the reality is; relationships cannot be avoided, there is no way around them. In order to ensure that we have the highest quality relationships and, therefore, the best shot at all-round success we need to constantly boost our Emotional Quotient.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons | Gert Germeraad under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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