• How to stop stressing so you can change the world

    March 15, 2017 | curtrosengren
  • What’s going on in the world today might be stress-inducing and downright angrifying, but it’s also an inspiring time to be alive.

    An unprecedented number of people have been standing up and saying, “Things need to change!” And they’re backing that up with action.

    But being moved to act is only the beginning. If those voices start to fall silent because of stress and burn-out, their potential impact will be limited.

    That’s why I’m writing this series.

    If we are to have any hope of making an impact that lasts, we have to play the long game. And part of playing the long game means not letting ourselves get so consumed by the stress of today (and tomorrow, and next month) that it grinds us down, chews us up, and spits us out.

    In this series, I want to share some ideas for navigating that stress so we can stay focused and committed to being a force for positive change for the long haul.

    Each of the topics below includes a link to a page with a deeper look at the idea in question. 

    What you’ll find here

    Spread throughout the links below, you’ll find:

    • A deeper look at each of the ideas.
    • Highlights of research backing the ideas up.
    • Actions you can take right now to start dialing down your stress. 
    • Videos of subject matter experts sharing their insights. 

    12 stress wrangling tips

    Sometimes too much of a good thing can make it hard to know where to begin (the content for this series filled a 45-page Word doc). In this post, I distilled a few ideas to get you started as you navigate the stress of paying attention and staying engaged amidst the crazy-making events in the world today.

    [Read more here.]

    Take a long-haul approach

    The only way our efforts are going to have a long-term impact is if we stick with it for the long haul. That means taking a sustainable approach that allows us to stay energized and engaged over time without succumbing to stress and burnout.

    [Read more here.]

    Reduce your negative news consumption

    What you feed your brain has a huge impact on how you feel, how you see the world, even what you see as possible. Resist the urge to gorge on all the outrage-worthy news the media wants to pour into your head. Stay informed, but do it intentionally and selectively.

    [Read more here.]

    Don’t let your anger drive

    It might feel like you need to stay angry in order to stay motivated for action, but in the long run that’s a really, really (did I mention really?) bad idea. Continually stoking that anger and outrage has a negative impact on both your emotional and physical health. And in the long haul, it’s a recipe for burnout. Use your anger as short, intermittent bursts of rocket fuel for your efforts, not as an ongoing fuel for a long road-trip.

    [Read more here.]

    Get grounded

    When you’re spinning in circles with energy flying off in all directions, not only is it easy to get burned out, you also have a less stable and effective foundation to act from. Developing some kind of regular (i.e., daily) grounding practice like meditation or yoga can help slow down that spin and bring you back to center.

    [Read more here.]

    Mind your emotions

    The more stressed you feel, the more readily negative emotions can hijack your experience. You’re unlikely to get rid of those negative emotions entirely, but you can take them out of the driver’s seat by looking at them through the lens of mindfulness.

    [Read more here.]

    Practice self-compassion

    If ever there were a time with a desperate need for self-compassion, it’s now. Research has shown that people who actively practice self-compassion are happier, less depressed, less anxious, and more resilient.

    [Read more here.]

    Find and focus on the positive

    What you focus on literally creates the world you perceive. When the bulk of what you focus on is what’s wrong in the world, that’s the world you’re going to experience. It’s a scary, disheartening place that sucks the life right out of you. Making a concerted effort to incorporate a focus on the positive balances out the perspective and feeds a sense of well-being.

    [Read more here.]

    Feed your brain the good stuff

    What you feed your brain matters. Just like negative news consumption can affect you negatively, feeding your brain with the positive, uplifting, and inspiring input can both change your perspective and leave you more equipped to make an impact for the long-term.

    [Read more here.]

    Stay energized

    If you want to maximize the impact of what you have to offer, you have to stay energized. This ranges from incorporating the basics we all know we need to do, like eating healthily, exercising, and drinking enough water, to making life changes that bring more of what energizes you into the picture (in your work, in your relationships, in your free time, etc.) and reduces or eliminates as much possible of what drains and depletes you.

    [Read more here.]

    Breathe

    Your breath is a handy stress management tool available to you whenever and wherever you are. This post explores some breathing practices you can use for stress management on the fly.

    [Read more here.]

    Let go

    We have a tendency to cling to what we want and push away what we don’t want. It’s human nature. Letting to – over, and over, and over – is a simple practice that can help you both stop feeding your tension and stress and feel a greater sense of peace.

    [Read more here.]

    Stay connected

    If there’s one vital rule that reflects how we humans are wired, it’s “don’t go solo.” We evolved as social critters, and reaching out for support and connection can be immensely important in times of stress and turmoil. Unfortunately, between our western cultural obsession with “being strong” and a natural tendency many of us have to withdraw when we feel stressed, we can wind up isolating instead.

    [Read more here.]

    Do some good

    Taking action that makes the world a better place can be a powerful counter to the stress we feel in our lives.

    [Read more here.]

    Make your life your message

    Like Gandhi, you can make your life your message. This is less an action to take and more an idea to provide context for how you approach everything. If how you lived your life was reflected in a big neon sign over your head, what message would it have to share? Would it be about stress and conflict? Or peace and resolution?

    [Read more here.]

    Reconnect with nature

    A wide variety of studies have shown the positive impact of nature on our mental and physical health. Spending time in nature – even just a city park – can have a restorative effect.

    [Read more here.]

    Lean on your spirituality

    Whatever spirituality means for you, there is plenty of evidence that connecting more fully with that spirituality positively impacts your life in a wide range of ways.

    [Read more here.]

    Pace yourself

    Finally, pace yourself. This isn’t a sprint, and trying to run a marathon at full speed is a recipe for implosion. Don’t try to do it all. Focus on one step at a time. And give yourself time to rest and renew. Other people will be taking action while you pause.

    [Read more here.]

    Make a plan

    As good as the ideas I have outlined in this series are, they will have absolutely zippo benefit in your life if you don’t apply them. This last post looks at some ideas for creating (and implementing) a stress management plan.

    [Read more here.]

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