The job of the marketer is one of the most stressful in the modern business world. Not to mention the mental state of entrepreneurs and managers. Practically all of us have to react to dynamic situations, to deal with short deadlines, dissatisfied customers, too much work, problems encountered, criticism and many more.
All this creates a huge amount of stress on us. And as we know it:
- Stress affects ill health.
- Stress badly affects judgment.
- Stress badly affects libido.
- Stress leads to fatigue.
- Stress dramatically reduces productivity.
Stress, when you allow it to be seen, presents us as weak, not confident, and unreliable to our colleagues, clients, and partners.
Stress affects all important areas of our lives and businesses. This makes it a top priority – to fight it and get rid of it.
I wish it was so easy.
There are numerous techniques, practices, methods that promise and help to conquer stress. But we are all stressed and do not have time to read long books and go for months of psychotherapy. So I decided to give a brief overview of the techniques that personally help me deal with stress on daily basis.
I’m not saying I use them all every day. Sometimes the situation is appropriate for one of them. Sometimes one doesn’t help and I have to use another one before I get a panic attack.
So, feel free to use them and experiment freely.
Technique 1: Dive Into the Present
A long time ago, I read about this technique in one of Dale Carnegie’s books. Maybe 20 years ago. But it helped me every time. Here it is:
When you have multiple problems that are bothering you all at once or are expected in the future.
Focus on the present – here and now, what you are doing now.
Think about it – what do you see as you do it? Look really at your hands, at your computer screen, at the person you’re talking to.
Think – what you hear, feel, smell at that moment. Immerse yourself in the situation.
Let there be only the present moment and what you are doing.
For a moment, forget about past anxieties and future worries.
Work and act focused and do not stop until you have completed your planned task.
This “isolation” gives you great comfort right now. There are no problems at this moment, no worries, no regrets. There is only what you do and yourself.
If you do it in focused manner, you will achieve a form of dynamic meditation, which is currently extremely popular under the name mindfulness.
Once you step out of the trance of the present, you will realize how cozy the place was while you were there. And you will remember that while you were in the magical present, you did not have any worries or stress.
Technique 2: The Worst Case Scenario
This is another popular technique found here and there in various books by personal development gurus. I personally learned it again from Dale Carnegie. Here’s what it is:
Look at the stressful situation from all sides, analyze it.
Ask yourself the question
“What is the worst that can happen if my worries come true?”
Try to accept the idea that you can handle the worst, whatever it is.
Keep calm with confidence that your worst is in your pocket.
This technique is a little difficult to implement if you do not have a philosophical view of life. The problem is that most of the “worst” situations are related to:
Exposing in public or in front of important people (friends, boss, client).
Dismissal, expulsion, living alone / on the street / without work.
Injury, mutilation – of yourself or loved ones.
Death – ours or our loved ones.
These seem to be the main worst outcomes of most.
If you approach these outcomes philosophically, and find the strength to (theoretically) overcome such situation if it happens, you can completely deal with stress and anxiety.
Technique 3: The Narrator
When we are stuck in our problem pools, we are like brainwashed. We do not see or realize that there is an outside world that is much more interesting, free and gives us many opportunities.
Here is an example:
An employee at a large corporation is late for an “important” presentation and drives at 150 km/h, risking his life and that of others. Fast, trembling, sweating, in wild fear. Arrives sweaty and worried, breathing heavily, contracting under the frown of the boss.
Relax, dude! The corporation has washed your brain! The world will not end if the presentation fails. It won’t end if you get fired. No one will die if the company goes bankrupt.
However … Your world will turn over if:
You crash and take your life, rushing to the meeting. Prison is not pleasant.
You offend a colleague, friend, or loved one by acting in a hurry and important way.
You get a heart attack, stroke, autoimmune disease, gastritis as a result of stress.
So, here’s what the technique looks like:
Feeling stressed? Stop for a minute.
Try to look at yourself and the situation from the side. Imagine that you are looking at yourself from 3 meters away.
Press the imaginary Pause button and let your image you are watching stand still.
Now reach out to an imaginary audience and start telling them about the situation, commenting on it and talking about yourself in a third party.
If possible, try to instill a sense of humor or imitate a sports commentator. Or approach it any other way that is more fun for you. I guarantee you relief within minutes.
Technique 4: Universe Contrast
I learned this approach from a book on Buddhist meditation. It consists of the following:
Think about the situation you are in.
Get up and look at yourself and the situation from the ceiling level (imagine it, don’t get on the ladder). Look at yourself and the situation from the side.
Get up on the roof level and look at yourself and the situation. Stay a bit like this.
Rise to the level of the clouds and look again at yourself and your situation, below, in the distance. How do you feel?
Rise higher in orbit. Look at Earth. You and your situation are no longer in sight.
Step back into space and see the Earth disappear into the distance and the sun is just one bright spot.
Step back and see our galaxy. Where is your problem now? How do you feel about it?
A variant of this technique is the “Man without Shoes” method, which is summed up in a quote (I forgot from whom), which states:
“I was worried I had no shoes until I saw a man without legs!”
Our problems always seem bigger to us than they really are (compared to other, bigger problems). At the same time, reducing the stress of problems is crucial for us to free our minds and solve them.
As Vadim Zealand says:
“Reduce the importance.”
Technique 5: Smile and Sigh
I read this technique in a magazine maybe 30 years ago, but I still remember it. It is very simple, but it always works instantly. And it takes 3-4 seconds. Here she is:
Take deep and slow breath.
As you inhale, smile wider.
Exhale slowly, like a sigh.
During the exhalation, relax the whole body, but focus on the shoulders.
Just try it. You can do this several times if you do not achieve the desired effect the first time.
Technique 6: Virtual Reality
This technique is borrowed from NLP and requires a little more time (4-5 min or even 10 min) but is very effective. Here it is:
Close your eyes and relax.
Imagine the situation that stresses you and your involvement in it.
Stand apart – start looking at you and the situation from the side.
Make the picture black and white.
If there are sounds, imagine that they disappear and the situation is like a silent movie.
Make the picture of the situation small so that it and you can fit into one palm.
Zoom out so that it can hardly be seen in the distance.
Now think about the solution to the problem of calm.
Try it. You will like it.
Technique 7: The Power of Remembering
Technique 7 is also from NLP and serves to quickly manage the inner state.
We assume that you are currently stressed, worried, anxious. Yes, we know that there is certainly a real problem that needs to be solved and that bothers you. But we also know that when you are anxious and stressed, you are much more likely to fail to solve the problem in the best way.
So, for now, we forget about the real problem and our goal is to feel calm, confident and creative.
How can we do that that? Very easy, simple and fast:
Close your eyes.
Relax (seated straight back in a comfortable chair).
Allow your mind to wander for a few seconds or as needed.
Recall a situation from your past when you felt great – calm, confident, creative – as if the world were yours and you were on the crest of a wave.
First, remember as much detail as you can about the situation – where you were, how you were dressed, who was with you, what you were seeing at that moment.
Next, remember the sounds of who was talking and what, was there music, wave noise or something else? Remember them clearly.
Now, try to recall the smells, if any, the touch – what did you touch, sit, shake? Think of it as if it were happening now. Feel everything as if you were there.
Notice what you are experiencing at the moment? Still worried, or has the great memory of memory already conquered you?
Open your eyes and act, remembering the condition.
Great technique. Simple and effective. It looks like stopping and recharging your internal resources (inexhaustible)‚ and it works like charm.
Technique 8: “Direct Solution Outlining”
This technique is very simple. My observations show that if I have a problem, half of the stress is generated when you don’t know how to solve it.
So, do the following:
Analyze the problem.
Find out briefly how it can be solved.
Outline 1-3-5-10 specific steps on how to solve it.
Indicate in your plan when each step will be completed.
How did you feel? It seems like the problem is half solved, right? Yes, because that’s exactly what you did – you solved half of the equation.
Technique 9: The Magic of Action
As one author says:
“The shortest answer is action!”
or as a colleague of mine once said to me:
“When finding a solution of a problem is being postponed, the problem doesn’t get smaller and it doesn’t solve itself!”
The technique is very simple:
Do something specific to solve the problem. That is. First step. Then one more, etc. The first step is the most important one.
The steps can include any concrete actions that help you move towards the solution of the problem:
Solve the problem with your hands (if something physical needs to be done).
Write an email.
Call for help from a friend.
Whatever else is needed.
You will notice that as you begin to take specific actions, you have a double effect:
You’re diving in the moment (Technique No. 1).
The problem is moving to a solution (because you are doing something about it).
I will not come to long conclusions regarding the techniques mentioned. The important takeaway is that if we don’t beat the stress, it will beat us. The latter is not a desired outcome.