19 May How are you dealing with stress?
Stress: we’ve all dealt with it at some point and we’re well aware of the mental toll it can take on us.
Some people claim stress is their best motivator and that it’s a normal part of life to deal with.
Stress is impossible to avoid entirely but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth devising strategies to cope with it properly. After spending the last two months inside more than ever, we’re beginning to feel the pinch of maintaining a high standard of work despite immense disruption to our lives.
Regardless of the unique way each of us deals with stress, we all need a system to cope with it to work to the best of our ability.
It’s not just mental
ESPN’s Aishwarya Kumar wrote an engrossing feature last year about chess grandmasters. Far from being physically inactive, these players are supreme athletes with a strict diet and exercise regime.
It’s important for everyone to eat well and exercise regularly for our own general health, but these guys have a greater purpose: staying exceptionally fit is essential to deal with the physical demands of professional chess.
That’s right: sitting in a chair for hours at a time is physically exhausting. Kumar spoke to a Stanford University researcher who found players can burn up to 25,000 kilojoules per day while playing in a tournament, around three times the average person’s daily energy intake.
The only reason for this is the stress caused by hours and hours of intense concentration. Knowing that every move could either achieve glory or prove fatal to your chances causes your body to feel extreme pressure just like an athlete would in a more active sport.
What can we learn from these chess players? Stressing ourselves out doesn’t just take a toll on our mind, it affects the rest of our body too.
Unfortunately, it’s not healthy for our bodies to continuously absorb all of that fear and worry. A sponge can only soak up so much before water starts to spill out again, and we can’t put ourselves through the ringer time and time again without it deeply affecting us.
The question for us is how to manage stress properly.
Devise your own strategy
What works for some people won’t necessarily work for others. You might like a good long walk in the park where others prefer a bingeworthy TV show or a juicy novel.
The essential part is that you find a plan to deal with stress that works for you and stick to it.
A huge misconception about stress is that if we manage it properly, we can avoid feeling stressed altogether. This is the wrong approach.
It’s something we all have to confront regularly and feeling this way is not a failure in self-discipline. Rather, it’s a challenge for us to deal with effectively.
It’s practically impossible not to worry about things, but try to vent that worry in a time and place that is healthy and manageable. It’s better for us to control the stress than for it to control us.
Ultimately, it’s unhelpful to think we can push stress aside entirely or use it as a motivation tool. Each of these methods are not effective strategies but signs of procrastination and a reluctance to accept the reality of our challenges.
So find what works for you to deal with stress and stick with it. It’s an important life lesson to take challenges head-on rather than running away from them forever.