A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question.
Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”
She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.” Remember to put the glass down.
Continuously thinking about something that happened or may happen over and over with a negative frame of mind is called rumination. It creates worry and anxiety within us, and it is the number 1 reason that you are stressed. The longer you think or worry about it, the more stressed you become, and the less likely your brain is able to think, make decisions or lead effectively. In today’s world, we are expected to be ‘on’ 24/7, so we are constantly checking our phones, answering emails on holidays and after hours, which exacerbates the stress we have already. So how can you put the glass down, and just let it go.
So what are some of the ways to let it go?
- Mindfulness is gaining momentum with leaders to teach your brain to let go of all thoughts and concerns. Try a 10 minute mindfulness break, or a 2 minute breathing exercise.
- If that sounds like that’s too difficult to do, then my next go-to is exercise. When I am running or rock climbing, I start out stressed thinking of everything I still need to get done, but after the first 5 minutes my brain becomes focused on my movements and I completely let go of everything except breathing and moving. It’s mindfulness in motion for me.
- You can simplify it even further, by going for a walk during your lunch break. You will be amazed that something so small can make a huge difference to your day.
Until next time!
As an Organisational Psychologist, and Executive Coach, I have worked with leaders internationally to build resilience and create strategies to become more effective. I have developed an online platform to connect and grow leaders. You will find mentorship stories from senior leaders, learn how to become more resilient, have access to bite size leadership lessons, and engage with a coach. Please connect if you would like to learn more.
Coaching can be defined as a partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that supports them to identify and take steps that move them between their current reality to where he or she wants to be. The biggest impact of coaching occurs when there is a shift in a person’s thinking, (or aha moments). Shifts in how we perceive the world occur because what we experience changes through the questions that are asked.