6 Strategies to reduce stress and increase focus
“Please don’t give me any more to do. I’m filled up!”
“I don’t have time to think about the long term for my family or my work. All I can do is handle what I have every day and every week.”
“My team keeps pushing back on me telling me that they are overwhelmed when I can see that they can probably cut down their hours and get more done.”
“Let me just get to my vacation . . . then I will feel better . . . well at least for a while.”
These statements are typical of what Sunil Bhaskaran hears from people who come to him for an initial coaching session. Sunil is a coach who specializes in brain-activated performance enhancement.
“Many of these great people are very competent and actually do produce results, but they’re overwhelmed. They wish they could reduce their stress and increase their productivity. They sometimes have a negative state of mind and feel like they’re not getting anywhere,” Sunil says.
Here are six ways to resolve these issues:
1. Manage the working part of your brain.
The part of your brain that is responsible for most day to day work is your prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is very inefficient in terms of memory and energy use. Every time you switch from one task to another or make a decision, your blood glucose level drops.
So if you make too many decisions or you switch from one task to another, you eventually burn out. Also with the reduced energy availability, your tendency to engage in distractions and impulses goes up as your prefrontal cortex is also responsible for resisting these urges or distractions.
Practice: Focus your time on projects that put more money and satisfaction back into your pocket. Put less focus and time into activities and projects that don’t.
2. Manage expectations.
You have a wonderful chemical in your brain called dopamine. It’s responsible for giving you feelings of motivation and confidence. The trouble with dopamine is that it responds to how you set up your expectations.
If you set up unrealistic expectations and you fail to meet these, your dopamine levels go down. This results in reduced motivation and confidence. The opposite occurs as well. If you set up realistic and win-able expectations for the day and you meet them, your dopamine, confidence and motivation all go up.
Which of the above situations do you prefer?
Practice: Set up realistic expectations daily. If you’re not accomplishing certain tasks or projects per day, cut down the number of tasks and/or break down projects to smaller more manageable chunks.
3. Put more oxygen into your future.
Sometimes you can’t avoid feeling overwhelmed due to family needs or emergencies. But it will probably pay off for you to be able to frame or create powerful reasons to relate to these crises better.
You may have noticed that people with similar backgrounds can go through similar situations but respond completely differently. While experiencing an increased workload, a death in the family, or other unexpected events, one person may be calm while another is in a state of panic. Genetics can play a part in this, but not all the time.
Most of the time, Sunil asserts, the differences are due to one being trained in a more compelling frame or context. One has a mission or vision and the other doesn’t. Having a mission or a frame empowers you with focus and the clarity to find solutions fast. It protects you from feeling overwhelmed.
Most people respond to crises or the feeling of being overwhelmed by referring to their past. Based on past occurrences, this situation is not going to go well at all. It’s much more useful is to start thinking about what it might look like from the future that you want to have happen.
Unless you take steps to boldly stimulate your thinking and actions towards the future, the default past based thinking will inevitably rule your life like a dictator that you don’t even know exists–because that dictator is automatic–so automatic that it escapes detection. Putting more oxygen in your thinking towards the future eventually will replace the past based thinking that keeps you stuck in a state of being overwhelmed.
Practice: Create a draft mission statement for yourself. Make it simple for now:
- I communicate with my family from love and compassion.
- In my business, I work for the betterment of my employees and clients pertaining to their financial well-being.
Keep your statement in front of you. Practice reading it twice a day and use it when you feel stuck or overwhelmed.
When you refer to the mission statement ask yourself, “What are my options to resolve this based on thinking from my mission statement instead of survival or comfort?”
4. Enjoy the benefits of outcome orientation.
People also get continually stuck by thinking about their work mostly in terms of actions instead of outcomes.
In his experience as a coach and business owner, Sunil has had the opportunity to observe himself and thousands of other people at work. He has observed that most people like to be in action even if their actions lack focus. It compensates (it seems) for the guilt that people feel about their lives. This drives people to try to appear like they are working hard. Never mind if they are actually producing results or not.
But then there are the wiser few who will work fewer hours and get equal or better results. This shift to outcome orientation comes through practice and dialogue.
Practice: Instead of creating a TO-DO LIST, create a TO-OUTCOME LIST. What results or outcomes will you produce today? Instead of saying you will make 50 phone calls today to prospects, say you will create at least two appointments (outcome) and at least three referrals (outcome).
5. Commit to structured practice and dialogue.
Sunil loves to coach because he passionate about working with people who are willing to do what it takes to increase focus and get to a higher level of performance.
In Sunil’s words, here’s what he does with his clients daily:
- I dialogue through calls and email to identify the best outcomes to focus on for the day as well as what things to do so make sure we increase our chances of staying on track to the fulfillment of our mission and objectives. This dialogue is incredibly useful and effective while making life a lot more joyful and easier to deal with. Two heads committed to the same thing are better than one.
- I suggest based on their outcomes how to fine tune their mission and their long term objectives if necessary. This creates an outstanding amount of clarity and power in their confidence regarding the fulfillment of mission and objectives.
Practice: Commit to practicing the above practices daily. Commit to hiring a coach who is willing to roll up his or her sleeves and work with you.
6. Insist on learning to enjoy your life and your work.
Lots of people think you can’t have breakthroughs with conversation, but you can. Sometimes you can have some major breakthroughs after just a few conversations.
Practice: Do not tolerate long term suffering for another minute.
Sunil Bhaskaran is a former engineer who, many years ago, became interested in brain science as a vehicle for helping business owners and corporate professionals enhance their focus, creativity, confidence and performance in order to work smarter, not harder.
He has designed leadership, diversity, and accountability trainings for the corporate world. He has worked with Cisco, Comerica Bank, Compass Cares, JadooTV, Principal Financial Group, and Professional Convention Management Association, just to name a few.
He is the author of two books:
Sunil has more than 20 years experience working with business owners and professionals. He helps them make more money in less time. His programs also help committed business owners reduce their stress levels on average from a level 8-10 down to a level 2 in three to six months.