Archive for August, 2020

The Stress Sandwich

August 1, 2020
StressSandwich

Graphic by Chanti Holroyd Mention this graphic for a 20% discount chantih@gmail.com

Stress. It’s a part of life, especially in the fast-faced tech start-ups pressured to innovate and lead faster and better.

And things are much complicated with the divisiveness and uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the resulting economic distress and civil discord.

Yet we must all carry on, and we will. Below are my secrets for managing stress, especially when times are tough. I call it a Stress Sandwich.

Morning – the bottom slice of bread

As you look into the mirror, preparing for each day, ask myself two questions:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What will I accomplish today?

Expect the responses to vary each day. There are no right answers. Expect responses to be sometimes detailed, sometimes personal, sometimes strategic, sometimes even funny, but the questions should remain the same every day.

Daytime – the everything in the middle

Throughout the day, expect to encounter stressful situations and respond to these stressors by asking yourself some questions.

  • Is it real? 
    • We get so much information. Is the thing you’re stressed about real? How do you validate the information? 
  • Will it affect you?
    • If it does, you can respond from there.
    • If it affects others close to you, it may still be relevant but may be less urgent, less meaningful.
  • Is it important to you in the short term?
    • If so, respond appropriately, especially if it’s urgent.
    • If not, is it important in the long term?
      • Either way, respond accordingly, knowing the long-term impact.
  • Is it your problem or someone else’s problem?
    • Knowing the answer will help you respond. Solving someone else’s problem brings on more stress and doesn’t necessarily address the underlying issue, while possibly causing other issues. (This doesn’t mean that you ignore the problem if it’s someone else’s problem.)
  • If it’s confirmed as your problem:
    • What is the problem specifically?
      • How is it best immediately addressed?
      • What is the underlying cause of the problem?
      • How can you address that underlying cause?
    • How did you personally contribute to the problem, if you did indeed do so?
  • Regardless of whether it’s your problem:
    • What can you learn about yourself and about the problem?
  • How can you manage the stress around the problem?
  • How can you support others through the problem?

Evening: The top slice of bread

As you wrap up for the day, look at yourself in the mirror and do three things:

  • Tell yourself what you’ve done right today and in the past. 
  • What can you do better tomorrow?
  • Tell yourself good job. Tomorrow is another day.

I’ll close by suggesting that you treat yourself by doing 4-6 items from the list below, to help manage your own stress level.

  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Sing
  • Garden
  • Celebrate
  • Laugh
  • Learn something new
  • Go out in nature
  • Think/Say/Do Something Unexpected
  • Make someone laugh
  • Talk to someone who makes you laugh or cry or see/hear/feel/understand something better
  • Help and support someone

STRESS has always been a part of life, and will be more so in the next normal. I hope that these strategies help you make the best of it.

A PDF version of the graphic is available here: Stress Sandwich.