Welcome to the gain, the lead podcast. And with this, the second of our three part mini series on reducing stress and raising resilience, both for yourself and for your teams and an entire organization in this mini series of podcasts, we look at what stress is, what it does in our minds and bodies. And of course, how we can reduce it and remove it from our lives and helped our teams remove it from theirs as well. Because the result of removing stress is a much better atmosphere at the workplace and considerably higher productivity. In this episode, I'd like to share two skills with you. One skill that helps reduce and remove stress. When we have two, three minutes of time in between meetings, for example, or when things are piling up and another method that we can use in meetings or acute situations where we're directly confronted with a pressure situation, and we want tos do stress as it starts. And as we all work in a very fast paced industry and we have full calendars, it's important that methods we use to reduce stress are easy to implement inside that working environment. And both of these are now let's jump straight into the first method. So imagine the situation, things are piling up. Uh, you have too much to do in a day, a week, a month, and now extra challenges have come on top, like employees, sick or extra deadlines or an incident. And, you know, you can feel the tension and the stress building up. The first method is designed to support you in coping with these situations effectively, easily and without stress. So what we need to apply it is just two, three minutes of time and strength of mind. That's the technique we're going to be developing is strength of mind to understand why let's have a quick recap from the first episode. Well, stress is nothing more than a, a fight and flight reaction. So it means your brain is realizing that the situation around it is a threat, and it's trying to do everything possible to protect you. It's not really a threat. I mean, you're not in a life or death situation, but the subconscious mind and our stress system sees it that way. That means we can change it, cuz that's quite simply wrong. It's not a life and death situation. And this method helps to grow a strength of mind that makes it possible to remove stress, of course, in a business world. However, also in all other areas of life, including private life and it's called swim perspective with strength of mind. Now, maybe, you know, the feeling I just described, the situation everything's piling up and that can quickly look like we're small and stood in front of a mountain. Uh, that is just impossible to complete in that time that you have now. However, if you've had those situations in the past, then you've completed them, right? You've managed it, you've worked through it. And when you look back on those situations, 2, 3, 4 months later, what do they look like? They usually just look several HILs that of course you were able to walk over and of course you were able to climb and of course you were able to master. Now, maybe you would've rather been doing other things. And at the same time you managed it. So it obviously wasn't a life and death situation. So this method helps change the perspective on that. Because if after it looks like a couple of Hills and of course you managed it, then why don't we just look at the situation from the start like Hills that we can manage. And the method we're going to use here involves sitting down and asking ourselves questions and there are different areas. So I'm gonna introduce you to different set of questions that you can ask yourself in your mind and answer in your mind. Or if it's a very challenging situation, it can be recommendable to actually write down the answers as bullet points, to be able to focus and remove that stress. We're going to look at different types of questions and some of these questions you might already use. Some of them you might like, and some of them you might not like cuz this can be quite a personal exercise. And the idea behind that is that you can find the questions that work best for you. You'll also find that some questions work better in some situations and others in others. So let's have a look at the questions and we're gonna structure and group them into areas. Let's start with time conscious questions. These questions refer to switching our perspective in time. The first one is the simple one. Just ask ourselves, you know, what will we think about this situation in three, four or six months, and really focus on giving yourself a good answer to it. Other time related questions can be, what will I think about this situation? When I'm 80 years old, most people put a smile on their face when hearing that question and realize that they probably won't even remember it. Uh, and smile is what we're looking for with these questions, cuz that means the mind switch has happened and you have shown strength over the subconscious. You can also ask a question of what would 80 year old me recommend I do now in this situation. And I've done that many times and there's one. So the 80 year old me has never given me 80 year old me has never said, James stress yourself. It's really worth it. You know, harm your health. Now 80 year old me often says things like, okay, come on, you've done this before. You've managed it. You can do it again, write down what needs doing and get working on it. And it hugely works. Right? Another question area we can look at is friends and other people. So this helps us gain an outside perspective. Maybe, you know, the situation that a friend of yours is very stressed or worry. And when you look at the situation from the outside, you think, come on, that's easy to solve. All right. Okay. On the one side, of course we have the empathy and we understand that it's struggling and stressful and challenging for them. However, on the other hand, we also know that it is actually easy to solve. So let's take that perspective for us at else by asking ourselves, okay, what would I advise a friend to do in this situation? And then really think about the answer. Like spend a minute focusing on exactly what you would say to a friend, maybe write it down and, and then do exactly what you would advise a friend. You can also ask, what would a friend advise me to do? You know, maybe you have a special friend or a grandparent or a parent or an ex colleague that you respect a lot. You know, what would they advise that you do probably stressing yourself is not the answer they're going to give us. If you have kids then in your mind to explain to your kid why stressing is the best possible solution in this situation, how it will help the situation get better and why your child should definitely use that strategy when they become an adult. Now that's always a very challenging one to do, puts a smile on our face and can change the, again we've gained strength of mind through it. Another area that some people like and others don't is the reality check. So that means we can ask ourselves in our mind, what's the worst thing that can happen. You play it out, maybe write it down, uh, and then ask how likely is it that that will have happen? And God forbid it happens. What would we do then? Um, because worse things have happened in our lives and we've got through them before. So what options would we have then usually when answering that question, it gives us also a switch of mind, maybe puts a smile on our face realiz it's, you know, actually it's not that likely that the worst of the worst happens. And even if it does, we have the skills to, uh, conquer that situation. A different area is the personal strengths. So we can ask ourselves when have we faced similar experiences in the past, it might be exactly the same might be multiple different situations that all brought together are very similar to the one you're in right now. And really focus on thinking about that. Not just ask the questions, really think about it, control those thoughts. And once you have the situations from the past, we can then ask ourselves, how did I manage them? How did I master them? What did I do? Or I can ask which of the strengths and the learning I got back then, can I apply now to master this new situation and how am I going to get through this one and how can it apply and work well for me and finally potentially the most controversial, uh, type of question here. Some people love it and others hate it. Um, interesting to hear what you think about it. So we can ask ourselves questions. Like what would somebody in a much, much worse situation than us think about our situation. If you've traveled a lot, there are plenty of areas in the world where people live in hus made by themselves and you know, their daily routine is worrying about what they're going to eat tonight or can they eat tonight? And what would they think about our situations in, you know, a Western business world? They would probably think, please give me those problems. Yeah, they're much better than mine because you know, you, you have a house, a car, an apartment security salary holidays. Um, they'd probably be extremely thankful to take on your challenges, um, in order to have the benefits. That's why this is a rather controversial question. Some people like that and others don't, if you like it, great use it. If you don't, that's fine. I love it. I mean, I've traveled around the world lot, all over Southeast Asia, Africa, driven through townships in Africa and have, uh, grown a great gratitude and a thankfulness to the world that I'm allowed to live in. And I'm very, very happy for that. And I never forget it, no matter how stressful things are. So these questions are there to really help us switch our mind. The actual answers really don't matter that much. It's more about getting the mind, switch, controlling the thoughts, stopping the stress processes. Normally you get a little smile on your face when you know it's working and then it's time to truly take. And then the important step is to plan to get out a piece of paper or get out your planning. That's already prepared and now plan what needs to be done. What are the different actions? What are the different tasks, list them all per timings on them, plan them realistically through and then start taking action. And part of that plan, I mean, especially if extra pressure extra load has come on top of your original plan incidents have happened. That's obviously gonna mean that part of your plan will mean pushing back on certain projects, changing deadlines, uh, talking to people in order to communicate that because we all know a day only has a certain amount of working hours and a week only has a certain amount of working days. So let's be realistic about it. It's much better to push back earlier, change deadlines earlier rather than missing them. That's always much more pleasant and generates less stress. That then means less dealing with stress. So that's our first method, gaining strength of mind by noticing when I'm getting stressed taking 2, 3, 4 minutes to really think through the questions, gain, uh, much stronger perspective, get to the feeling level of you are in control of the massively challenging situations around you, cuz stress is never gonna make them better. Yeah. If we remember back what the consequences of stress are from episode one more mistakes, um, it takes longer to do things and it harms our health. It's never gonna make the situation better. So let's get rid of it. Let's control the might. Now let's move on to the second method of this podcast and that is what can we do if we're in an acute situation, someone applies pressure to us. How can we stop stress, literally instant, a very fascinating question. This method works very well in situations like, you know, you're in a meeting and a board member ask some critical or tricky questions or you are in a customer meeting and they blankly say no to your conditions, or maybe there's a threat there. Or if another colleague from a different department, different area of the business makes negative comments in a meeting about you or about your team, then that can all trigger instant stress reactions. And we often notice those stress reactions by a desire to answer very quickly and, and win. Now if we do out and succumb to it, usually we are going to be applying pressure on the other person. And what does everybody do under pressure push back? Uh, so it's seldom gonna be good for them. All good for you. And there are usually much better ways forward. However, as pressure and stress is starting, the mind is switching off. If we stop that process happening instantly, we can be much more resourceful and be able to react more stronger in these situations, be more resilient. And that just wonders for our reputation and being the person that is unstressful and very productive and solution oriented at the same time can do wonders for career. So let's look at what we can do. Step number one, we need to notice that stress is happening. Uh, we'll get to that at the end of how we can train ourselves to notice that this process is happening well, let's just imagine you notice it. Uh, you notice that the, the stress is piling up and you're feeling like the urge to answer quickly. What can we do to stop that? Well, first we're going to use a technique called an anchor and this technique basis on a function in our brain that we all from our past. So let's just leave the business world for a moment. And if you remember into your past, I'm sure there was a situation similar to this. Maybe you were either talking to someone or you were deep in thought and then from somewhere allowed bang happened. Now it was probably just a door slamming, right? However, that loud bang, what does it do with our thoughts or the conversation in that moment? It stops it instantly, right? The brain goes into a reorientation mode. And very often we can't even remember what we were talking about or thinking about like, it might take three to 10 seconds to remember, ah, yeah. That's where we were in the conversation. And that's because there are certain signals that when the brain receives them, it stops all processes for a moment. And it goes into a reorientation mode. Now, as we can't stand up in a meeting and make a loud bang, every time we feel stressed, we need a more subtle way to do this. And it's very easy. There are loads of spots on our body that we can press and squeeze that have a very similar reaction. The easiest one to press in a meeting is on your thumb. So if you look at your right thumb and you look at the nail, then the body, some right corner of that nail, like right in the corner between where it goes horizontal to vertical, there's a bit of skin. And if you press that with a fingernail, it's a little bit, or a lot more sensitive than every other space, if you press fingernails into your hand. So dig your finger into that, press it. That has the same effect as a loud bank. It will for a very short amount of time, stop the stress reaction in the brain. It goes into a reorientation mode and asks itself. Okay, what next? And that's your chance? That's your chance to change the characteristics that your brain is expressing right now to ones that would be more practical, uh, cuz potentially, you know, the subconscious characteristics in a stress situation will be things like be defensive, you know, fight back and that just produces more defensiveness. So the second thing to do is in your mind, say to yourself three or two characteristics that you want to use right now, your characteristics that could be something like calm or interested or valuing or analytical or assertive, friendly, uh, positive solution oriented. I pick two or three key characteristics. And if you say them in your mind, especially in the way of saying I am calm solution oriented and have empathy, the brain take that as a clear instruction as it's reorientating and will act upon that and make your life a lot easier in the difficult situation. Now obviously different situations require different characteristics. So pick a typical situation that, uh, often leads to stress reactions and define exactly what characteristics you would like to have, write them down and get ready for that situation. Then the next time you in it, you can press the nail skin and say, I am calm, focused, relaxed, and act out of a much more positive solution oriented strength of mind perspective. The third step we need is action. And with action, we want to, again, in like three short words, describe how we're going to act right now. So if it's a difficult situation, I know someone's blaming your department. Tack is usually a very bad way of reacting. It just takes longer and generates more stress to clean up afterwards. So we can use more action related things like ask, understand answer. Yeah. So that stops as reacting too quick and playing the game of a stress battle. But between two people ask, understand, react or ask think act or analyze define goal plan, you know, find the three steps like its general steps that will help you come to the best possible solution. In that situation with that, you then have something that you can say in your mind to yourself within about five seconds in a tough situation. So you notice the stress coming in, you know, the pressure's put on by another person, you press the anchor, calm focus, relax, ask, think act, and that's doable in less than five seconds if you practice. And this is just a very simple numbers game. So basically what we're trying to do here is change a biological stress reaction into a, you know, comfortable, conscious, and very beneficial way of acting in a meeting that will save time and generate better results. And we're fighting against 20, 30, 40 years of conditioning. Eh, your stress reactions have been there for a long time. They're fully automatic. So what we want to do is automate a positive reaction, a stress free reaction, a resilient reaction, and how we can do that is just simply by repetition. So of course we're not gonna have too many of those situations, ideally. So that's not enough potential for repetition. Plus it's a little bit difficult to notice them, uh, because that's when stress starts, we tend to think less and notice less. So the way to become very strong at this is to practice. And all it means is practicing that little routine. I just talked about about 10 times a day. So that little routine of pressing the anchor clear instructions of characteristics and then my action statements. So write those things down and then practice them. And in order to practice them, we can use another effect that uh, we have in the subconscious mind that it can't really tell the difference between virtual things and actually physical happen things. So if we just remove notice from our steps and say, imagine, uh, then we can start reprogramming our subconscious. So the exercise works like this. You sit down, take five minutes or you do it in the car while you're driving or before you're going to, to sleep. Or while you're waiting for someone, just do a couple of these repetitions. So just imagine a typical stressful situation. Imagine what you can see and hear. And if you can, what you can feel, then press the anchor. So your, your fingernail, the skin next to your fingernail say, I am calm, focused, assertive ask, think, act, and then do it again. Imagine the situation again, go through the steps. Imagine the situation, go through the steps, do that 10 times a day or ideally more of course. And what will then happen is you'll start being able to these situations, like all of a sudden you'll be in a meeting and you'll notice, okay, now I'm getting that stress reaction again. And then you can stop the situation in the meeting by using the anchor, the instruction and the action. What will then happen if you do that a few times, it might be five times. It might be 20 times of doing it. Con is one day you'll be in a meeting where exactly the same stressors are happening and you're automatically calm, focused, and resilient. That's when you know that you've completely reprogrammed that stress reaction. And now the stress O that used to release stress now released focus, assertiveness and resilience. And that's an amazing thing to do. My personal recommendation for this is take things one at a time, like work on the biggest stresses first, get good at them. Once you notice it's working and you don't need the anchor anymore, it just happens. Move on to the next one. Perfect that get rid of the stress there. Move on to the next one. That's why I worked through about 50 different situations over about three years. And now in business, literally, unstressful it just takes some practice and some efforts and the benefits pay off quite massively. So I wish you good luck for that. I do also have one final top tip, um, that works for some people and, uh, less for others, but if it works for it's great, cuz it'll make this method more effect. And that is in step two. While you are saying to yourself, I will be your, I am calm, focused, and resilience. Additionally, imagine the picture of a person who is calm, focused, and resilient, that can either be yourself in a situation where you're very calm, focused, and re, or it can be someone else, a parent and a colleague, someone you respect a lot, or it could be even be a film character. Now just someone that resembles those characteristics. If you hold, can hold that picture in your mind, then it will strengthen the impact on your body and the stress reactions. Now I hope you can use some of these techniques to reduce stress in your life, gain a strength of mind in challenging situations, stop acute stress in meetings and um, you know, become more resilient, calm, relaxed, focused, and healthy at the same time. And of course, all of these tech means they work wonderfully in the business world and absolutely they work at home and can improve private life as well. That was part two of our podcast on becoming more resilient and reducing stress in the next parts. We're then going to look at teams and what we can do to help our teams also become very resilient to stress and with that higher performance and until then have a great time.