How to Keep Calm When the World is Flipping Out

The world is flipping out.

More than 75% of adults report symptoms of stress, including headaches, tiredness, or sleeping problems. (American Psychological Association, 2019)

80% of U.S. workers say they experience stress on the job. (American Institute of Stress)

And nearly half of all U.S. adults (49%) say that stress has negatively affected their behavior. (American Psychological Association, 2020)

With all of the resources and opportunities in the U.S., you’d think there would be a lot less stress here than other places around the world. Not so. The most stressed nations, based on the percent of the population who reported experiencing stress “a lot” yesterday, are:

Greece (59%)
Philippines (58%)
Tanzania (57%)
Albania (55%)
Iran (55%)
Sri Lanka (55%)
United States of America (55%)
Uganda (53%)
Costa Rica (52%)
Rwanda (52%)
Turkey (52%)
Venezuela (52%)
Those are amazing statistics. There’s as much stress in the U.S. as several bankrupt, war-torn, terrorist states.

In short, stress is extremely common and has skyrocketed in recent years.

BUT you don’t have to be all stressed out, burned out, or off balance, no matter where you live or what you do for a living. You can do several things to prevent the stress from getting to you.

That’s why I’m inviting you to my webinar on November 16, 2023 on How to Bust Your Stress and Renew Your Balance Now!

Yes Alan, I want in!
Before the webinar starts, however, I want to give you some short and long-range strategies you should be practicing now.

► 1. Short-term stress-busting strategies.
Breathe ten.
You’ve heard the long-quoted advice that you should count to ten before you react to something. Put a pause between your stress and your reaction. And it’s not bad advice, just incomplete.

I’ve found that most people need more than a mere count to ten to get a grip on their stress. But “breathe ten” is different and better. Take ten long, slow, deep breaths before you react to stress. It puts more oxygen in your bloodstream which carries away the toxins associated with your stress. It works.

Take a walk.
Get away from the situation or the person that is driving up your blood pressure. Take a two-minute or a five-minute walk, if possible.

And as you walk, tell yourself a positive affirmation … that “I am choosing a positive response to my stress. I am in control.” That works so much better than telling yourself “I can’t take any more of this … I can’t hack it … or … There’s nothing I can do.” The positive affirmation will reinforce your self-confidence while the latter comment will give you more stress.

Put it into perspective.
At the moment you’re getting all hot and bothered, ask yourself if this situation will make any difference in five years. If a coworker or customer is being rude, will that make any difference five years from now? Probably not. You may not even remember the situation five years from now.

Spend an appropriate amount of energy.
Don’t spend $5.00 worth of energy on a 5-cent problem. If a colleague doesn’t greet you in the morning after you’ve said “good morning,” it may not be worth $5.00 of your energy getting all upset and staying upset for the next several years as you continue to work together.

And don’t spend 5 cents of energy on a $5.00 problem. If your marriage partner says she wants a divorce and you do nothing to change or improve the situation … thinking she’ll get over it … you’re headed towards some major wake-up calls.

All of those are stress coping mechanisms. They may not solve the problem that caused the stress in the first place, but they will help you get through the tough times.

If you want to prevent stress from starting in the first place or building up over time, I suggest…

► 2. Long-term stress-busting strategies
Add comfort to your workplace.
The research is clear on this point. By changing the physical environment at work … in the appropriate way … employees have lower amounts of lost time and lower rates of occupational illnesses.

So pay attention to what you can do to make your work setting more comfortable. A comfortable chair and temperature. Whatever.

A lack of clutter is a big one. Clutter is always a stressor at home and at work. When managers insist the workplace be kept tidy, employee satisfaction always goes up, even though the employees may initially resist such an order.

► 3. Add more nature to your workplace.
The more you make the internal workplace look and feel like the external world of nature, the less stress you’ll see in the workplace.

For example, employees do better when they work in natural light versus incandescent or fluorescent lighting, where there are courtyards with windows and plants instead of solid concrete walls and where there is some fresh air instead of all filtered air.

Employees are less stressed when the work spaces are colored in browns and greens (like nature) rather than black and chrome wallpaper.

Studies have even shown that when other life forms … like plants, animals, or fish tanks … are in the workplace … employees have higher productivity and lower lost time. Indeed, hospital patients who have a goldfish tank in their rooms heal more quickly and go home more rapidly.

Even though the world is flipping out, you CAN do some things to prevent stress, minimize stress, or manage your stress.