“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Matthew 6:34 Amplified Bible
Sure it’s one thing to be stress free as a two-year-old or a 92-year-old, but can you really expect to reduce stress when you are grinding your way to greatness and doing all of the really hard stuff it takes to build a legacy? If so, what does a low-stress lifestyle actually look like in the 21st century?
This year I had the pleasure of coaching a client who reminded me that yes it is possible to maintain a healthy low-anxiety mindset on the journey to greatness. He was in the process of applying to one of the most prestigious MBA programs in the world and when we connected a couple of days before he would receive the decision letter, I was stunned by the client’s sense of calm. After all, this was second attempt at gaining entry to the program. Here are a few intentional practices that helped this client--and many others--sustain his peace as he awaited his big decision. And oh yeah, he was accepted.
1. Skip the ice cream or glass of wine and try a good old fashioned smile. The most powerful stress reducers are also the most accessible--and no, they aren’t in your refrigerator. Laughter, sleep, deep breaths, exercise, prayer and smiling are all free activities that are proven to reduce stress. In fact, researchers have found that even when you force a Duchenne smile by holding a chopstick in your teeth you can reduce your heartrate and recover more quickly from a stressful situation.
2. Visualize your success. It was important for my client to see himself as an MBA student during the application and waiting process. He crafted his own student profile--following the format of other student profiles posted on the university’s website--and posted it in his room so that he would see it every morning. Visualizing his success at the beginning of each day meant that he spent far less energy worrying about what might not happen.
3. Make peace with your limitations. What stunned me the most about my conversation with the client a couple of days before he got his acceptance letter was the fact that he had accepted the discomfort of uncertainty. He recognized that he had but his best foot forward on most days during the application process. And he accepted the fact that he couldn’t go back and change the days when he slacked on his study plan. When you allow yourself to be okay with the fact that everything is not within your control and you allow yourself to feel the discomfort of that, you save yourself from loads of frustration. One of the most common causes of anxiety is our human obsession over things that are completely out of our hands.