Step 5 - Change Your Mindset (45 min)
> Changing your mindset about stress is essential to managing it
Think waaaay back to the very first time you had to give a presentation at the work or at school. Maybe, it was to a small group or another team.
Really, try to envision that week.
Remember all of the stress that was mounting days before the presentation? Gathering all of the information, formatting the content, putting all the slides together, triple checking the numbers, etc. And maybe, you even practiced in the small conference room a few times.
It was very stressful, right?
We’d venture to guess that you probably didn’t get much of a restful sleep the night before the presentation day.
You got through it and even though there may have been a few small hiccups, it went well overall.
Getting through that first stressful presentation was the starting point of building up your courage, skills and competence in speaking in front of a group. Then, with each successive presentation, it got a little bit easier and less stressful.
You probably didn’t even realize it back then, but stress was your friend. It was your mental ‘personal gym trainer’ to get you to do amazing things.
Now, today...if you needed to do a presentation at the office, it’s not nearly as stressful as that very first time. It’s like a walk in the park now. Your previous moderate levels of stress have given you the focus, strength and courage to hone your presentation skills.
You’ve trained your brain into using stress as a positive thing. It’s a mindset change that slowly evolves. It’s the second part of the equation.
Changing Your Mindset Takes Time
Permanently changing your mindset for the long term doesn’t happen overnight. You can jar it into a different state for a short stint, but it eventually wears off. You've gotta keep at it. It takes time to shift your thinking from one mentality to another. It's gotta be done consistently in phases. It's more like an evolution rather than a radical change.
It’s like exercising or working out.
When you first start going to the gym or a fitness class, your body is physically stressed with soreness for a week or two. But, you know that the soreness is a good thing - to you, it’s eustress. So, you keep working out every day. With each passing day, your body begins to adapt and get stronger from that stress.
Remember the key points from Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk video earlier about how stress is good for you?
When you treat work stress as a mental strengthening tool, it will make you better and your body will respond accordingly. But it only works if you consistently see it that way and believe in it.
Here's another Ted Talk by Dr. Alia Crum, a Stanford University professor/researcher and a graduate of Yale and Harvard. In this video, she presents a few research studies on how changing our mindset can impact our body.
VIDEO: Change Your Mindset, Change The Game
YOUTUBE CHANNEL: TEDx Talks
The Main Take-Aways:
> Our mindsets can influence our physiological (body) and psychological (mind) realms.
> Kick start your mind about work stress and make it work FOR you instead of AGAINST you.
> YOU have control.
> YOU get to decide whether the stressor is positive or negative.
When you’ve mastered this skill, tackling work stress head on won’t be seen as a threat but more like an exciting challenge with rewards.
And that’s the mindset change right there.
Without this skill, your mind will view all stress as negative demands and you’ll run the risk of falling into a cycle of prolonged chronic stress...and that’s not a good thing.
So, let’s spark the positive momentum.
Mindset Change Exercise
Print out another copy of the 4A worksheet. Write down one medium level job stressor.
The focus this time around is on the adapt and accept sections since mid and high levels stressors usually aren't as easily addressed by avoid and alter tactics. But complete the avoid and alter sections, if you feel that you can. It'd be a good extra exercise.
As you read each of the questions below, write down your answers in your worksheet.
For the ADAPT section:
How can you spin the stressor around to make it enjoyable or fun?
How can you tweak your expectations to make it work for you?
How can it improve your day, week or year?
For the ACCEPT sections:
How can you benefit from this? Dig for the positive things.
What new skills can you get from this or what current skills will it strengthen?
Who can you talk to about this and get their feedback?
Create Positivity Triggers:
Next, in the notes section of the worksheet, write down several phrases that trigger your positivity. Here are some example phrases to get ideas flowing in your head.
“This is going to be tough, but I’m going to crush it!”
“This is nothing! I can do this! I’ve been through much worse.”
“This is a new one and I’m going to lead the way, watch out!”
“I’m gonna nail this! It’s gonna be a big win for me.”
Okay, go ahead and do the above portions before moving on.
Say It Loud And Proud
The next step is going to be a bit weird but trust us. You have to do it.
Changing your body state and voice can jumpstart your mind into a totally different state.
It’s a tactic that Tony Robbins uses where you change your mental state by physically changing your body state through posture and verbal statements. It's called 'incantations' and it's powerful stuff.
In this quick video clip, the man himself explains what incantations are and how and why it works.
VIDEO: Incantations Changing Your State
YOUTUBE CHANNEL: Jim Hammons
Here's another way to look at it.
Imagine a depressed person in their house.
Without even seeing that person, you already know what their physical body state is, right? They’re sitting hunched over, head is down, talking slowly at low volumes, etc. They’re in a totally withdrawn and down state.
The opposite is also true.
It’s like the athlete that wins the race, scores the goal or hits a home run. Their body language shows it. Their entire body is energized. Their head and arms are up, they’re typically screaming victoriously and running around.
You can get your mind into this same energized state by simply changing your body and your voice.
Yes, it seems silly and stupid. But you know what?
When you speak with certainty and intensity, it engages your mind and body. You can condition yourself into a different state.
Take your completed worksheet and find a private place.
You can jump into an empty conference room, go outside the office, an outdoor patio or balcony, the empty lunch room, etc. Wherever you can stand and speak out loud without disturbing others.
This is what you’ll do.
1. Say your specific stressor
2. With positive focus, say all the good adapt/accept things that you can gain from it
3. With an “I’m gonna rock this” attitude, shout out your positivity phrase(s) 3x
Okay, now go and do this.
We’ll be here waiting for you.
Now, you’ve primed your mind and body to turn the tables on the stressor.
Start taking action and get the ball rolling.
Every time that you’re battling with this particular stressor, say all the good stuff you’ll get by knocking it out. And, repeat the phrase every time you’re throwing punches at the stressor.
This repetitive action will condition your mind with not only the right message but also with the right feeling. It’s like when one of your favorite songs gets stuck in your head.
When you’ve beat the stressor into submission and conquered it, relish the win and know that if and when it reappears, you can knock it back out.
Be sure to reward yourself and recover too. This is the important phase where your mind and body can now dial things back down for a bit before taking on the next set of stressors.