We all know that too much stress is bad for us. It leads to poor health, poor decision-making, and, poor results. But what do you do if you’ve chosen a high-stakes, high-pressure, always-changing profession? Is stress unavoidable for the coach, athlete, entrepreneur, or parent?
The truth is, regardless of your profession, there are proven techniques for eliminating stress. They take discipline to implement, but the stress-reducing results are more than worth it.
Here are five simple ways to deal with stress from someone who knows plenty about it, writer/director/actor/entrepreneur (and member of the Boxing Hall of Fame) Sylvester Stallone…
Stress is nothing but a slow bullet to the heart. Study after study links prolonged anxiety to high blood pressure, heart disease, migraine headaches, allergies, asthma, digestive and skin disorders, obesity, sexual dysfunction, diabetes, depression, and more. Some medical researchers estimate as much as 90 percent of illness and disease is partly stress-related.
I’ve had as much stress as anybody over the years, and now I regard it like an unwanted houseguest that’s a pain to evict. Here are some ways I’ve managed to keep things under control.
1- Start Slow: If you begin the day in an agitated stated, it’s hard to get back on track.
2- Consider the Source: People will always say nasty, negative, stress-inducing things. Fine. But who’s telling you this? Consider the source. Does that person have credibility? Do they have an agenda with you? Are they projecting something based on their own deep-seated shortcomings or anxieties? Could there be another side to the story? Don’t be a fool by listening to a fool.
3- Laugh It Off: A little humor gets people through the worst situations and the darkest days. I tend not to take things too seriously, especially as I’ve gotten older. It’s the only way to survive. We’re all here for what seems like two blinks of the eye. Life is over too fast to be bogged down constantly. Everyone gets down no matter who they are. It’s natural. Deal with the problem quickly and move on.
4- A Little Sleep Goes a Long Way: Often when we’re feeling stress, it’s because our bodies need a break. (Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, no excuses. Lack of sleep only makes things worse.)
5- Sweat Off the Stress: Exercise has always provided a tremendous release for me. There’s no better stress buster than pumping the heart and getting the muscles moving. Numerous animal and human studies have shown that robust physical activity regulates levels of cortisol, norepinephrine, serotonin, and beta-endorphins, hormones that are essential for managing anxiety.
— Sylvester Stallone, from his book Sly Moves
I would add one more stress-relieving technique to the list above.
6- Don’t Stress, Compete! Our words have power and simply eliminating the word “stress” can have a dramatic impact on how you feel. Whenever you hear yourself saying something like, “I’m stressed out right now,” immediately replace it with, “I’m competing hard right now.” You will actually feel a difference in your body and mind.
Don’t get stressed and worried about life’s challenges. Get excited to compete every day. Competing means always looking for ways to improve yourself and embracing a “bring it on” attitude. This simple mindset shift has the power to instantly alleviate tension and anxiety.