We all know that we should lower stress, “move forward”, and stop being negative. But what exactly does that mean and how does it affect your life?
I’m talking about Emotional Fitness. How our emotions and responses trigger stress in the body basically. A few weeks ago I did a training that discussed business success and focusing on changing our thoughts pertaining to daily stress. As women/moms/entrepreneurs/office warriors we have stressful encounters all day long. Getting the kids ready to leave the house. (nothing moves slower than a toddler, right?) A co-worker that gets on that last nerve. Or a supplier being out of your much needed ingredient when you have a big order to fill. This training was about recognizing every thought that pops into your head. It’s not just about reactions. It’s about retraining your brain to control your thought even before the reaction.
Think about a recent stressful experience. You may think, oh I got mad and then took some deep breaths and I’m fine. But what if we can train ourselves to be in the moment of that stressor, and stop the negative thoughts so that our body doesn’t feel that stressor in the first place? So for example. I took my little girl to swim lessons a few weeks ago and after EVERY class she talks with her bff and they take a picture and just be kids. One day they decide to pic the clover flowers and the 2 other moms were busy and wanting to leave. There was a lot of “come on”, “stop right now!” and “get in the car!”. I just stood and watched. These 3 little ones were so happy to see these beautiful flowers that they were picking for their moms. The one mom turned to me and asked how I was such a patient mom. My quick response was, “…oh I’m old and learned to take in these moments”. Later I thought more about it. To these girls, these were the most beautiful flowers and they were creating such wonderful memories by having a few moments with friends. And how much effort was it to just spend an extra 10 minutes to have some memories? 10 minutes was all the time it took to just be in the moment. To give these little ones some time to just “BE”. So I started to really think about thoughts and reactions.
As an entrepreneur, mom, homeschooler and fitness instructor I’m used to having a ton on my to-do list and wanting to get everything done right NOW! Taking a closer look at emotional fitness has me looking at everything not just my emotions when it comes to business. It started that day with picking the clover flowers. Normally I too, would be saying “stop”, “let’s go” and “we don’t have time today”. But something started to click. I was looking at the moment and thinking about my thoughts before the reaction. Now it would have been different if we were late to get somewhere. But normally how many times to do you react to the moment at hand? What if we reacted to the moment thinking first about the moment as a drop in time and how we react changes the moments for the rest of the day (week/year/lifetime)?
In terms of business, I’m very “reactive”… I’m a type A person that wants everything done now and right and ahead of time. If something comes up I can’t control I admit that I react with a big negative thought, and then dwell on it and try to relax after.
HOW DOES REACTING AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS? (or your home or your work place or your health?)
As a fitness professional I understand the dangers to your heart health and your overall health when we react to stress. It’s no good. Anger or raising your cortisol during times of stress weakens the heart. It raises blood pressure. It’s not healthy. We know this but did you know that it also sets you back from moving forward in your business? Like when you are multitasking and getting some of a lot done but nothing gets true focus to make it finished in a great way?
When we react to a stressor or a stressful moment, we are truly pausing the “move forward” button aren’t we? Even if it’s just seconds of time…it always takes longer to relax the body, get back on track and stop stressing the brain by re-living the event. This can be applied to anything but I want to focus on female entrepreneurs because we deal with it all, don’t we? Let’s take this example. You stop to grab a coffee and the person in front is taking a long time ordering. What is your initial thought? Is it: “oh my gosh this is taking so long and I’m too busy for this!” Your stress hormones (cortisol) shoots up, you think negative thoughts, and then relive this moment a few more times the rest of the morning. It takes 4 – 5X the amount of time to lower that cortisol and get your body back to good “working order”. In that time you weren’t focused on your business. You weren’t focusing on positive thoughts on anything that would be moving your business forward that morning. It isn’t about waiting an extra 3 minutes in line. You are spending more than that 3 minutes in complaining in your brain. Trying to lower your coritsol hormones and blood pressure. Time that could have been spent being calm and productive.
Let’s go back to that coffee line. You’re rushing to get to your office and you realize it’s going to take an extra 3 or 5 minutes. What if you changed your thoughts before reacting? Even before raising your stress level, ACKNOWLEDGE what is happening and DECIDE to say to yourself, “…take a breath and use this extra time to learn something”. Sounds like a lot to do but if you make the decision to be in each moment, you’ll start to recognize the moments and change how you are reacting. Change the thought to “…what am I learning right now?” “How can I redirect my emotions to benefit me?” In that coffee shop waiting line, use the extra few minutes to read the menu closer. Or use your time to take some additional deep breaths to relax. Sometimes I can use some extra time to think about a business solution or how to increase sales or how to help customers. Sometimes I use those few minutes to just take in my surrounding and acknowledge that it’s never “wasted” time. I think that’s the main takeaway in focusing on Emotional Fitness. What are you learning in this moment? What can this failure/change/stressor teach me that will benefit some area of my life? Sounds way profound but really it does come down to this.
HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT MY LIFE?
When we focus on the negative or focus on the fact that something isn’t going the way we planned…all it does is use our energy toward the negative and not channeling that focus to the positive. In business if we spent all our time reacting to stressors we would never get anything moved forward. Have you ever dealt with someone that only focused on the negative aspect of something? Ever been in a meeting with a group that focused on the negative things instead of positive learning solutions? It’s about impossible to think of solutions isn’t it? Things don’t flow and sales slow and it’s like running in a hamster wheel that doesn’t go anywhere. Negative thoughts hinder our progress. I’m not saying not to acknowledge the failure or the bump in the road. I’m encouraging you to quickly change your thoughts to “what does this teach me?” and move over that bump with a solution and don’t dwell on it. By changing the way to think, you can focus on moving anything forward.
Emotional Fitness is a constant “work-in-progress” but here’s my challenge. Starting right now, start to acknowledge the stressor as it’s happening and ask yourself, “what can this teach me?”. A little positive thought can change your day and therefore keep moving you forward in your life/business/family. It’s not all about unicorns and rainbows but instead it’s how we can quickly think about reacting with a positive spin instead of just focusing on creating a negative thought and then revisiting that negative throughout the day.
WHAT CAN THIS TEACH ME?
Implement this immediately. The next stressor that pops up in your life today, try to think quickly on how do I learn from this? Then post below your experience. Did you stay relaxed? What it very difficult to do? Tell us and let’s start the conversation and focus on Emotional Fitness. When your emotional, and physical fitness is running at it’s best, then the other areas of your life start to run better and forward. Let’s do this!