Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the tag “Stress”

Talking to Myself Again

Yep. I’m talking to myself more and more these days. I’ve even started emailing myself. The onset of madness, or management for a healthy mind?

In fairness, I’ve not yet got to the stage that others I know have. I’m not giving myself pep talks or motivating myself with inspirational statements. I’m not even really chastising myself for thinking unproductive/damaging thoughts.

No, it’s more of a pressure release valve. For the last year or two I’ve been trying to listen to myself. I’ve been trying to get good at picking up on the signals (for me, normally tension or lightness in my middle chest: the place you feel when you breath in deeper than you normally do….)

Why am I doing this? Mainly because I’ve realised that I’m a very simple creature. I’ve spent the last few years putting in place trusted systems, and learning some perspectives and processes (plus the pop-neurological background….), that have enabled me to strip myself back to my kind of core ‘operating model’

Sounds a bit up it’s own arse I know. It’s just meant to highlight my view that certain things work for certain people. For me, if I take an action when the middle chest place feels blocked or tense, I immediately get back to lightness in that place. That lightness stops me being distracted from the here and now. And as long as I make sure I spend the here and now doing as many of the things that I really want to do, then my happiness is optimised.

The actions I need to take to alleviate the tension are invariably for the future, rather than immediate. Using the trusted systems, I give myself an action, send myself a message (or send someone else a message or action)

So. My advice? Talk to yourself more often.

Work Stress: Is it Wrong to Create it Yourself?

Men Sunset by Hilde Vanstraelen

Men Sunset by Hilde Vanstraelen

For a long (long) time, I’ve known very clearly about certain aspects of my personality. One of them that I had always labelled as somewhere along the spectrum of procrastination and laziness was the trait of always leaving important things to the last minute. Whether it was the last minute homework; the university essay deadline extension. The professional examination cramming or the Board papers finalised minutes before deadlines.

I had always put it down to laziness/ procrastination whilst at the same time being surprised whenever I came upon the output of my ‘rushed’ work. Invariably I was amazed with what I came up with in those final minutes. I was often left with the feeling that ‘if only’ I pulled my finger out, and gave myself ten times the time, I’d be able to incrementally improve what I produced tenfold.

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Control, Stress and Fighter Pilots

I got to thinking today about control, mindfulness and stress. I think it was in the Times on a Saturday or Sunday that they use to have this great column by a Cambridge professor call Dr Happiness (or something like that)

I think he mentioned the stats about the sign-up differences in World War One (or Two – sorry so vague) between fighter pilots and bomber crews. Even though the mortality rates were significantly higher and the risks far more material for the fighter pilots than the bomber crews, the sign-up rates were far higher for calls of duty following their return from the first.

I have since thought that there’s probably underlying factors like general risk-taking and danger-seeking that would probably take the fighter pilots into their chosen career anyway. Dr Happiness’ point however was that it was all about control.

The fighter pilots felt in control of their own destiny. Able to manage themselves and their fate. Bomber crews however did not have the same ability. They relied on others to perform other tasks. To fly the plane. To manage the fuel. To navigate. To man the defensive gun turrets. To drop the bombs.

Why was I thinking about this? Primarily because of the control thing, and really trying to think hard and identify why there is such a hard-wired relationship between feeling in control and feeling happy? It seems simplistic, but it’s so deep-rooted.

I want to know why. Is it an in-built/ historic protection mechanism? A vestige of hunter-gatherer evolution that our social/ tribalism and modern-day team working has yet to wear away?

Relatively boringly, I know that it has such an impact on my work performance. If I feel I am in control, any amount of pressure can be applied and I deal in a fairly relaxed way. Out of control and the slightest thing feels like mental constipation.

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