At a stress management workshop I once attended, a participant asked if there was a difference between feeling stressed and experiencing anxiety. While both terms are often linked with each other and also used interchangeably, they are not the same.
Stress is our body’s way of reacting to an event, experience or situation that causes a physical, mental or emotional change. Stress is typically triggered by negative situations or is often viewed as a negative response to something.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is used to describe nervousness, fear, unease or worry. It is often triggered by imagining a future negative outcome that we don’t believe we can control or avoid.
A good way to remember the difference between the two is stress is how we react to something happening now, whereas anxiety is how we react to something that we believe is going to happen in the future. Our mindset or attitude about life will determine whether we have an optimistic or pessimistic view of our future.
Our habits define who we are and they’re responsible for all of our results. If we want to improve the quality of our results, it starts with developing new, empowering habits.
All of us have an internal drive and desire to be happy. Whether it is in the work we do, the people we interact with, or how we choose to spend our time, we all want life to be fun, joyful and exciting. We also want to experience a sense of peace, which comes when we have less stress and don’t feel overwhelmed.
The bad news about habits is they can be hard to form because it requires us to do things on a consistent basis that we have not done previously. Most times, it is easier to go back to what we were doing previously and not try to consistently do something new. Just think of New Year’s resolutions — most people will abandon them within the first month of setting them.
The good news is that with a little discipline and commitment, developing new habits will reap many benefits in the short and long term. Some of these benefits include:
- Feel a lot better mentally, emotionally and physically.
- Choose to do things that will enhance our daily experiences.
- Improve the quality of our relationships.
- Make better decisions.
- Experience more joy and happiness.
There is an old saying, “Change is as good as a holiday.” But could it also be that a holiday is a good change?
Travelling may not always be to have a holiday. It can be for work purposes, to have a sabbatical or to relocate to a new location for a period of time.
Studies have shown that travelling can improve our overall health and well-being because:
- It creates new experiences for us, which in turn, leads to more happiness.
- It generates new positive emotions such as excitement and anticipation.
- It improves our ability to connect and relate with others.
- It can help us become more productive especially in the days leading up to when we are due to travel.
- It make us manage our life better which can include managing our schedule, managing our finances and managing our exercise and diet.
It is a common practice for so many people to put off doing the things they really want to until they believe the time is right. The belief that there will be a “right” time to do something stops so many of us experiencing life fully now.
Some common examples of the things we tend to put off doing until we believe the time is right include:
- Following our passions instead of being stuck in a job or career we don’t like.
- Starting our own business because we keep hearing the economy is not good at the moment.
- Working long hours because we believe we don’t have the time to take care of ourselves physically, mentally or emotionally.
- Staying in a relationship that is not serving us because the kids are still young and will be affected.
- Failing to promote our skills or expertise because we believe we haven’t got enough experience or achieved enough success yet.
The cost of waiting for the perfect time to do what we really want to is that it keeps us stuck in a reality we don’t enjoy, which in turn, affects our mindset or attitude about our life.
The truth is we cannot control the past or the future. All we ever have is the present moment. We can learn from our past and do the best we can to create a better future for ourselves, but the only thing we can control is what we think, feel and do in the right now.
It is an interesting thing that for most people, their learning stops when their formal education comes to an end. We often think of learning as what we learn at school and at any higher educational institutions.
While formal education plays a very important part in our development and growth, it is still only one way that we learn. We also learn from:
- Our daily interactions and experiences.
- The choices or decisions we make.
- The people we associate with.
- Various platforms such as television, movies, social media channels, apps or websites.
- The books we read.
- The events, seminars, workshops or training programs we attend.
With our world continuously changing at an ever-increasing pace, it has become vital that we continue to learn just to be able to keep up with the changes happening around us. If we stop learning or are not willing to learn, then there will be some painful risks or consequences.
In regular conversations with people, when I ask them what they are working towards, most of them say they are in some form of transition in the life right now.
It could be starting a new job or career, being affected by business downsizing, coming out of a relationship, starting a new business, or simply taking time out to access where they are in life right now. Oftentimes, a simple breakthrough in one area can make all the difference as we transition to the next level in our lives.
The truth is we can all have a big breakthrough if we know how to prepare, plan and execute the right things. Once we know what to do, how to do it and the right order to do what needs to be done, then having a big breakthrough should not be something that we only achieve once in a while, but on a consistent basis.
Some of the benefits of having a big breakthrough include:
- We’ll accelerate our progress not just in the area we’ve had the breakthrough, but also in other areas of our lives.
- We’ll feel better about ourselves and where we are heading in life.
- We’ll know what to give our focus and energy to instead of being scattered, stressed and overwhelmed.
- We’ll be able to assist others in also achieving their breakthroughs.
- We’ll find a lot of things that we have been giving attention to fades away and is no longer important or a priority.
I recently heard from one of my mentors that if you have a dream that you can achieve on your own, then your dream is not big enough.
That is quite a profound statement because it emphasises the importance of having a team in the first place, and it also reinforces that if we have a team, then team members must be aligned, engaged, motivated and work towards a common objective.
When a team is not operating to its full potential, some of the consequences include:
- Less respect for the leader and team members.
- Small issues become bigger issues quickly.
- Increase in team conflict or turmoil which leads to more frustration.
- Tasks take longer to complete because attention is being given to things that are of a lower priority.
- Lower performance from team members which leads to low productivity, less engagement and a decrease in motivation.
One of the things I look forward to the most is the first two to three hours of each day. I love my mornings because that is when I am most creative and do my best work especially if I have had a good sleep the night before.
I strongly believe the way we start our day plays a huge part in how productive and effective we are, which ultimately affects what we give our focus to and how much we get done everyday.
The best way to ensure we perform well is to develop effective morning habits that will support us in accomplishing what we want each day. As we continue to apply these habits daily, they will start to have a cumulative, positive effect on our results.
Ever since I have given more attention to how I start my day, some of the benefits I have experienced include:
- Getting my projects or tasks done quicker.
- Having better clarity as to what I want to accomplish daily.
- Feeling less stressed and overwhelmed.
- Making steady progress towards the things I want to achieve.
- Having additional time later in the day to spend however I chose to.
It is always nice when someone gives us an unexpected compliment. Hearing others say nice things about us can increase our self-esteem and also give our confidence a tremendous boost.
There is an old saying that if you observe something nice about someone, do not keep it a secret. In other words, it will be more valuable to pass on a compliment to another person rather than keeping it to ourselves.
If we enjoy receiving compliments, then others must also enjoy receiving them. Think back to the last time you received an unexpected compliment — did you like the person who gave you the compliment even more?
Chances are if others give us praise or compliments consistently, we will have a greater level of respect and trust for them. I remember I once received a compliment from a direct report when I was managing a manufacturing operations site for helping him get familiar with the business when he first started his role.
That compliment made me recognise that sometimes the smallest gestures, which we may not think much about, can make a huge difference to someone else. It also resulted in us having a very good working relationship as we built up a high level of trust and respect over time.
We all want to feel more relaxed, be more focused and have more energy every day. Our overall mental, emotional and physical well-being is directly linked to how well we deal with our everyday experiences.
One of the reasons why the idea of mindfulness has become more known and practiced is because of the benefits it brings to our overall well-being.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being alert, open and present to what is going on around us at any given moment. In a state of mindfulness, we are able to observe our thoughts and feelings without any judgement, which means we can get a better idea of our habitual ways of thinking, feeling and acting. In a state of mindfulness, we feel more connected to everything around us and more likely to be in the present moment instead of thinking about the past or the future.
When we are in a state of mindfulness, we will:
- Be focused only on the present moment.
- Not judge or categorise our thoughts and feelings as either good or bad.
- Avoid reliving past experiences, good or bad.
- Focus only on the “now.”