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Achieve Less-Stress-Success

By George Pitagorsky
March 6, 2024

Everyone wants success. But what does success mean and what are you willing and able to do (or not do) to achieve it?

Success is achieving goals and objectives. It requires effort and effort can be stressful. Less stress promotes success. So, make it a goal to manage your stress.

To succeed at less stressful success, find the right combination of intentional effort, knowledge, and skill while pursuing your other successes. Knowledge includes understanding stress; skill includes the use of intentionally applied techniques and concepts that address the causes and symptoms of stress.

Understanding Stress

Stress is physically, chemically, or emotionally caused by bodily or mental tension. Some stress is necessary, healthy, and unavoidable. Managing stress well and it is useful; manage stress poorly and it is harmful.

Stress stimulates and motivates. Excessive stress causes damage when coping mechanisms are overwhelmed. Unnecessary stress can be eliminated.

There are four kinds of stress: psychological, cognitive, physical, and environmental. Unnecessary stress is the stress we can intentionally reduce or eliminate. The key to getting to healthy stress levels is addressing psychological and environmental causes.

Cognitive and physical stress are easy to understand. Cognitive stress occurs when we use intellect to solve problems; too much cognitive stress causes brain-drain, fatigue, and poor intellectual performance. Physical stress is about the way we treat and use the body. Too much physical effort and we pull muscles or get worn out. Not enough, and we become weak and unhealthy. The wrong diet and not enough rest create unnecessary physical stress. We can moderate these stresses, but often environmental and psychological issues get in the way.

Environmental Stress

Environmental stress comes from our surroundings – atmospheric conditions, noise, smell, discomfort, pollution, vibrations of the people around us, cultural norms, rules, and regulations. Excessive environmental stress causes fatigue and distraction. It multiplies the effects of psychological, physical, and cognitive stress.

For example, a culture that promotes overwork increases cognitive and physical stress, leading to burnout. Ambiguity, irrational demands, and conflicting objectives and values increase psychological stress. A noisy environment makes cognitive effort more difficult. Difficulty in dealing with partners, co-workers, and neighbors can be stressful. Comfortable physical conditions lessen cognitive and physical stress.

Psychological Stress

Psychological stress also multiplies the impact of the other kinds of stress. When you experience excessive physical and cognitive stress, the cause is psychological and/or environmental. Poorly managed psychological stress leads to errors of judgement, outbursts, withdrawal, overwork, fatigue, and even disease. It gets in the way of healthy relationships and detracts from optimal performance and wellness.

Psychological stress takes the form of worry, anxiety, self-judgement, and tension caused by fear of failure, and by clinging to impossible expectations.

With skill and patient effort, using meditative techniques, and a realistic mindset, the impact of psychological stress can be reduced or eliminated. The techniques include breath control, bodywork, mindfulness, and concentration practices. In some cases, medication is needed.

The realistic mindset is founded on self-awareness, open-minded questioning of beliefs and biases, the ability to work with paradox and ambiguity, and the wisdom and courage to accept and let go.

Accept and Let Go

When you accept and let go, you reduce your psychological stress. For example, if you are worried or anxious about achieving a goal, you are wasting energy. Accept that you are worried and channel your energy to figuring out what you can do about what you fear. If there’s nothing to be done, then why worry? If you can do something, why worry?

Psychological stress is the primary target. When we recognize and are better able to manage psychological stress, we can avoid the excesses that cause us to become stressed-out.

We can reduce environmental stress by ensuring realistic expectations, maintaining work-life balance, and fostering a supportive physical environment for wellness and productivity. If you can’t adjust your environment, then the trick is to accept and let go into doing what you can do, including finding a different environment.

Changing your mindset, stop worrying and altering your environment can cause stress if you expect to do it prematurely. Accept and let go into patient, persistent effort.

We can regulate stress by practicing breathing techniques, taking breaks to rest, and changing our mindset overcoming psychological barriers.

“Do your best, don’t worry, be happy.” Meher Baba

George Pitagorsky is presenting at this year’s Leadership & Innovation Online Conference! Register here.

George Pitagorsky combines over 50 years of experience in technology and project leadership roles as practitioner, consultant, and executive with the study and practice of yoga, meditation Buddhist, and non-dual psychology applied in daily life to promote optimal wellness and performance. He has authored books, articles, and workshops on mindfully managing projects, performance, work-life balance, relationships, conflict, and expectations. His published books are The Zen Approach to Project Management; Managing Conflict; Managing Expectations; How to Be Happy Even When You’re Are Sad, Mad or Scared; and The Peaceful Warrior’s Path: Optimal Wellness through Self-Aware Living, published in October 2023.

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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