Stress. We love to complain about stress, especially this time of year. We are stressed out about holidays or work or family or everything. We talk about it as if it is like air, ever present and never under our control. 

In truth, I think it’s more like rain. Stress happens. We have some choice about how much we exposure we have – living in the desert is less, a tropical rainforest more. But we all get some.

It turns out that stress is a challenge and important to manage, but it will only kill you if you think it will. The stress of worrying about stress just makes things worse.

There are ways in which stress is actually helpful. It can create the tension that motivates us to finish a project, change a habit, even chose to excel. But like anything, too much of a good thing is too much. So how can we manage stress to put it to work for us instead of tear us down? Here are three ideas:

1)  Maintenance – Stop and take stock of what must be done – for survival, for safety, for basic comfort, or for future success. Focus your energy on those things.

 2)  Mindset  Carol Dweck describes two kinds of mindsets. A person with a fixed mindset believes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are innate and unchanging. A person with a growth mindset believes that these qualities can be cultivated. Those with a growth mindset see failure, not as a weakness, but a challenge for growth. How can you shift your mindset to cultivate new capacity?

3)  Mindfulness – Not because it’s trendy but because it creates perspective. This doesn’t mean fitting in a trip to Nepal or days of silent meditation. It can be running, or painting or, yes, meditating. It’s about getting out of your head and the stress for a minute or two or 20. It’s about stopping the noise and the spinning. When you stop, what do you see? What is important? Back to step 1. 

Not sure what activity to try? Try this video of the beach 


Try these ideas out as you wrap up the month. Let me know if they help by commenting below.

And before you go, may you have the best of holiday seasons and a joyful start to 2019.