Stressed out today? Discover a calmer you!

George Washington. What comes to mind when you think of George Washington? Leader? President? Visionary? All true.

But did you ever stop to think that George Washington could have been one of the most stressed out people of all time? He lost every battle in the Revolutionary War – except two. He fought up and down Manhattan and lost. The Hessians forced him to White Plains and he lost again. They drove him across the river to Hackensack and again he was defeated. Then down through New Jersey, he lost battle after battle.

However, the day finally came at Yorktown when General Cornwallis said, “I salute you, Sir, as the greatest leader of men.” Obviously, Washington kept trying until he turned his stresses into victory.

The Stress Challenge

You have to do the same thing. You are subjected to stress every day of your life. And to live a happy, victorious, and productive life, you must learn how to manage your stresses.

And that’s not all bad. If you didn’t have any stress whatsoever, you wouldn’t be doing anything to make your life, or your business, or this nation any better. Some tension is good.

The trouble is, you may have too much stress and tension. It may be wearing you down at work as well as at home. You may be letting stress manage you rather than you manage it. And one thing is for sure; you can’t be an effective individual or leader if you’re a victim of stress.

So what can you do about it?

5 Strategies That Lower Your Stress Level

I’ll warn you that these strategies may seem a bit soft or too touchy-feely for you. They may be outside your comfort zone. No problem. Just pick one or two of them to use when the stress is starting to weigh you down.

► 1. Change your thoughts. Think peace.

To a large extent, your stress is controlled by your thoughts. The more you think, “I can’t take much more of this… I’ve had it… or… That’s not fair,” the more stress you’ll have. You’ve got to stop thinking those thoughts.

If you’re feeling too much stress, sit back, close your eyes, and picture the serenity that comes after a storm. Imagine that the turmoil within you has passed. All that remains is stillness. Try this exercise whenever you feel tense, nervous, and upset. You’ll be amazed at the calmness you can create.

► 2. Take time for quietness.

Of course, you may think you’ve got too much to do to stop and be quiet for a few minutes. But you will pay a price if you don’t. Novelist Robert Louis Stevenson said: “Extreme busyness…is a symptom of deficient vitality.” Physicist Blaise Pascal said: “One of the ways in which man brings the most trouble upon himself is by his inability to be still.”

You know how you feel after a good night’s sleep. You feel stronger and more able to meet the day. Taking time for quietness during the day enables you to restore your vitality and energy. You’ll begin to understand what is happening. You’ll think more rationally and your tension will diminish.

If you’re not doing this at present, I’d suggest you start with five or ten minutes a day. Find a private place and just sit there quietly. Don’t try to solve any of your problems. Don’t try to focus on anything. Don’t even focus on thoughts of peace as I suggested above. This is a different exercise with a different purpose. Just experience the calmness of silence and the quietness will work as a pressure releaser.

► 3. Behave with deliberate patience.

Yes, I know that patience isn’t always easy. I remember a golfer who had trouble sinking his ball. The ball just wouldn’t go where he wanted it to go. Finally, after many strokes, he got the ball in the cup. Then with a look of hatred, he took the ball out, placed it on the ground and pounded it into the earth with his club. I don’t know how his game went after that, but I can’t believe that his lack of patience served him very well. If nothing else, he lost the respect of the onlookers, not to mention his own self-respect.

However, you can become patient by simply acting that way. The mind-body connection is tremendously powerful. When you start moving a bit more slowly, a bit more deliberately and less erratically, your whole body and mind take on an aura of calmness and control. Certainly there are times when you must move quickly, but for the most part, don’t.

As an attendee of my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience, Mike Sojka of the Fastenal Company learned that. Mike says:

“Even though it was only a short time ago when I attended your Journey experience, I’ve already seen amazing results. I used your affirmation/goal-setting process to successfully start my own business. And I used your techniques to eliminate worry … which has made life a lot less stressful. Thanks again for showing us the skills to succeed into the extraordinary.”

Heads up to all of you. My only public offering of the Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program will be October 3-4, 2024, from 9 am to 6 pm ET. It will be virtual so you don’t have to spend any money on airfare, hotels, food and everything else. And right now, if you register by July 10th, you save 40% on the tuition.

► 4. Change must be processed.

There’s a lot of research that says worrying actually increases the chances of bad things happening. If you worry a lot about getting sick, you’ll probably get sick more often. If you worry about getting into a car accident, your uptightness will make you a poorer driver who has more accidents.

The way to refuse worry is to replace it with a counteracting force. Whenever a worry pops into your mind and starts to give you stress, replace the worry with a powerful positive sentence. Your mind can’t have two thoughts at once, and positive thoughts, held long enough, always overcome negative thoughts.

John Evan Jones, a newspaperman, told a story about his experiences in London during the bombings of World War II. He had a maiden aunt who was a strong, resolute, religious woman who lived alone.

After each bombing raid, John would visit his aunt to see that she was all right. He noticed that on the wall she kept a motto which read, “Don’t worry, it may never happen.”

One night it did happen. A bomb fell close to the house knocking out every window and smashing all her fine china. Rushing to look in on her, John found her calmly sweeping up. Still hung on the wall was her motto.

“What will you do with your motto now?” he asked. “Oh my,” she responded. “I forgot to turn it over.” She did, and on the reverse side it said, “We can take it.”