215 - How To Reduce Needless Stress - John Laurito

215 – How To Reduce Needless Stress

Stress in any given situation and environment is normal and even natural, but we often have times when we get stressed, anxious, and tense over nothing. We go through all those uncomfortable feelings because of things that we’ve mostly made up in our heads. Today, host John Laurito talks about stress, its overall effects on us, the most probable reasons why we get stressed, and how to reduce all that.

[0:00] Intro

[0:53] What is stress and how it affects us

[4:16] Why and what do we needlessly stress about?

[6:02] The things we know

[7:48] The things we don’t know

[8:38] The things we think we know but don’t

[11:18] Solution 1: Gain clarity

[13:02] Solution 2: Do it quickly

[14:08] Simplify

[17:47] Outro

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John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good after running companies small and large for the last 20 years. Today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name’s John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic. What makes the best leader so good? Welcome to tomorrow’s leader! 

John All right. Welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader related related to leaving yourself and leading others, I am John Laurito, your host. So have you ever stressed about a conversation or phone call you were going to make? You had to have and you’re stressed, stressed, stressed. You knew is going to be a really tough conversation and you got done with it and you realized, well, that wasn’t bad. That was actually a lot easier than I thought. Why was I stressing about that? I wish I didn’t stress about that. All that stress was for nothing. Well, I know that’s happened to you because it’s happened to me. It’s happened to everybody. 

John Everybody has dealt with that before. So I want to talk today about stress, in particular needless stress. And I, relate to needless stress as stress that you do not need to have. It’s not there for any reason. It’s not helping you. It’s hurting you significantly. And in reality, you’re stressing about stuff that you don’t need to be stressing about. I’m going to share with you a couple of things that I think will really help you, and I’m coming at you from a person that has been you if you’re dealing with stress. Believe me, I have stressed for a large portion of my life and dealt with a lot of stress. Like everybody, I don’t know many people that have not at some point in their life. I used to stress about minor things, big things, small. 

John I used to stress about everything. If I had a conversation with somebody, I’d be stressing about how they interpreted my conversation or did they like me or what do they think? If I did something at work, I was constantly stressed about, Did I do it right? Did I not do it right? Could I have done it better? Or if I anything sports, some say I could have hit that ball further, or I should have gotten that play or blah blah blah. I just stressed about so much stuff that I didn’t need to. Now here’s what you have to understand Stress is really, really unhealthy, so you may have heard you may have done some studying. You may know this, but cortisol is released in your system now your body’s mechanism when when it feels threatened or there is something happening. 

John So let’s say a angry dog comes in your path and is barking at you and looks vicious. Your body reacts and our bodies are wired to react in a way where it helps us deal with flight or fight. It’s it’s that it’s the chemicals that come out adrenaline, cortisol that help prepare us for battle really to fight. And in doing that, what it’s also doing is it’s shutting down anything that’s non-essential to fight. So when adrenaline goes, it gives you energy. It gets your heart rate going faster, your blood pressure goes up. When cortisol is released in your system, it’s it’s sending more sugar into your bloodstream. Your your brain is processing sugar more. It’s basically reacting in a way your digestive system slows down everything. It’s just reacting in a way to prepare you for that moment. That’s what stress really is. It’s preparing you for a moment of having to fight or run whatever, but something intense to save your life. That’s the whole purpose. 

John That’s what stresses. So when we are in situations and we create stress that doesn’t need to be there, the same thing is happening. Whether it’s a barking dog, a tiger or a bear or us stressing about that big presentation we have, it’s in essence the same physical and ultimately mental effect. It’s has that same effect and that those same chemicals are being released in our bodies. So it’s very, very damaging. Immense, immense problems that happen when that happens to your body. I mean, we’ve got anxiety, depression, headaches, muscle tension, weight gain, sleep problems, personality changes. I mean, everything, all kinds of stuff and ultimately could be death. I mean, we know stress ultimately leads to major major health issues. 

John So I want to I want to talk about a couple of things that I’ve dealt with a lot of things in my life where I looked back and I said, Boy, I don’t know why I spend so much time stressing about that. And when you think about that for a moment, where were there periods of time where you had really, really high levels of stress or maybe moments or whatnot, and you look back and you’re like, I just didn’t need to be stressing about that. There was no purpose for it, and it ended up being nothing. I stressed about something that I thought was there, that wasn’t even there. I remember going into the doctor’s office and I was there. I had a pain in my elbow. I remember and I went to a physical therapist and they took my blood pressure and they immediately were alarmed. 

John They said, Well, what? My blood pressure was super high. They’re like, Did you run here? I mean, honestly, this was attached to a gym and they were like, Did you just workout? I mean, what would happen? I said, No, I’m literally just came from work. They’re like. It’s something happen like, are you? This is alarming. Are you significantly stressed and I thought, I said, Yeah. You know what I am? I just been dealing with some stuff going on at work. I was just hyper stressed and I there it was in black and white. The numbers looking at me. Of what that was doing to my body. It was crazy. There was a big aha moment in a big eye-opener because I’m like, Boy, if I don’t get this under control and figure out how to manage it, this is what’s happening. I don’t even see it. 

John I kind of feel it, but I don’t see it until I get my blood pressure taken or something worse happens. And then it’s too late. So I really came to a big aha moment and I said, You know what? There’s a lot of stuff in my life that I’m stressing about, that I don’t need to be, and I kind of looked at three different categories. I said, OK, I stress about things and people in general stress about things that we know. OK, so I have that big presentation coming up in two weeks. I know I’ve got the presentation. I know there’s going to be 50 people in the audience, and I’m the one who’s going to be on stage delivering this. I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to do a great job. I know the elements of that situation. Everything’s already defined and now I’ve got to prep and perform and I’ve got to get myself ready to do it. 

John Well, that’s an anxiety and stress that’s going to be produced because of the whole thought of what could happen as a result of it. I know what I know is the event is going to happen. What I don’t know is how I’m going to do. So of course, my mind starts to play around with all different scenarios. OK, you’re going to go up there, you’re going to do a dynamite job, you’re going to do such a great job and give you a standing ovation. Well, I wish that’s where my mind went more. But the the automatic response is my mind goes to what my mind goes to. Oh my gosh, am I to get up there? I’m going to start sweating. I’m going to have a panic attack. I’m going to. My heart’s going to be beating like crazy. I’m not going to be able to breathe. I’m not going be able to talk. I’m going to run off the stage. And that’s where my mind goes. Instead of the success, it goes to failure that everybody’s natural tendency is that way. 

John OK, that dog is jumping out of front of me. It’s not because he’s going to lick me, it’s because he’s going to bite my arm off. OK, our natural tendency, oftentimes when we see when we’re thinking about something that is pressure-related, we think about the outcome, that’s negative. OK, I’m getting up to the plate. I’m getting, I’m batting at the game. My outcome is going to be, I’m going to strike out. So we stress about these things because our mind naturally goes to the what-ifs scenario, which is the second bucket. We think the thing we stress about the things that we don’t know, but we create these what if scenarios in our mind, OK, which is basically, OK, what if I get up there and I flop? What if I do this? What if this person says that? What if this changes? 

John What if there are more people than I think showing up? What if all these kinds of things that I create this stress around these possible scenarios and I focus overly so on the worst ones, not the best ones? OK, so that’s number two is we stress about the things that we don’t know, but that we have these, you know what, if scenarios? The third thing is we stress about the things that we think we know, but we really don’t. I see this happen a lot where people are stressing about situations or they stress about what they think other people are thinking or feeling about them. What they’re stressing about is what they think. 

John This person said to another person about them, or they’re stressing about what they think happened at an event where they weren’t there, or they’re stressing about what they think will of the their boss thinks about them because they’re seeing a facial expression that doesn’t make them feel good. They’re stressing about these scenarios and information that they do not know, but they’re piecing together in their mind and creating a narrative that very well might not exist at all. There was something a situation at work that I was stressed about and it was entirely manufactured in my head. I had created this whole scenario of events, of conversations that took place, of things that were happening behind the scenes that I was convinced that were happening, that was going to have a negative impact on me. 

John And it made me not only stressful, it made me angry at the people. It made me dislike distrust. It created all these negative emotions. And when I look back after the aftermath, none of what I thought was true. None of the things that I thought were taking place actually were happening. I created all this pain and stress and anxiety for myself and damage to myself, I’m sure physically and mentally, but also to the people that I was interacting with because I was not my best self. And that’s the thing we got to keep in mind when we’re really stressed we are not our best selves. I was short with my kids. My relationships with people, friends, family. It just I was not the best version of myself because of those things going on. It made me question other things because I was really cynical about what was happening in this work situation. It was terrible. And I look back now and I say, Wow, that was totally needless and unnecessary. 

John It just created this undue negative impact on myself, my life, my world and the people in it. It just didn’t make sense. So I encourage you to think about a couple of things. Here’s three solutions that I found that really do help in dealing with stress. One is gain clarity on a situation that you don’t have clarity on. So if there are pieces, things that you are stressing about and these things are things that you think but don’t know, get the answer. Find out the answer. If you can, I know this. Sometimes you can’t. But if you can ask people, go directly to them, have some sort of a confrontation, healthy dialog address that problem that exists that you’re stressing about. Just have a conversation and apply what I’ve talked about in the past episodes about the three percent that makes the other 97 percent happen. 

John You don’t have to stress about having the conversation. All you have to do is get out of your out of your mouth. Hey, John, I have something I want to talk about with you. Do you have a few minutes? That’s it. That’s all you have to do, because once you’ve done that, you’re committed. Now you’re going to have the conversation. Hey, you know what? I just been someone’s been on my mind. I think, let’s talk about this. Here’s something I just I kind of felt this happened, or I got the impression you were thinking this am I off base on base? I just I’d rather talk about it than to have it floating around on my head and creating all this needless stress. Is there something we need to hash out or what? Let’s have the conversation, OK? That’s it, just gain clarity on the situation if you’re making assumptions. 

John Oftentimes, those assumptions are incorrect. And again, they’re consequential. They’re causing us pain and you pain that you don’t need to have. Gain clarity on the situation. Ask questions. Probe find out what’s the deal. Get as much information as you can. And oftentimes that picture becomes clearer than you realize. No, it actually wasn’t what I was thinking. OK, now. Now I’m relieved, OK? Second thing is, do it quickly. What you’re stressing about oftentimes might be something that is only going to last between now and the time that you do what you’re stressing about. 

John Now, if I have a presentation in two weeks, I can’t do that faster, but I can prepare faster. I can make sure I get it done and prepare in a week versus two weeks. And now I’m only really majorly stressed for a week as I’m preparing. Maybe, and I have less stress because I feel prepared. I can change that. I have the ability to control that right. But if I’m stressing about something that I’m procrastinating with, I’ve got to have this conversation with this person. I’m dreading this, I’m dreading this. I’ve got to visit this office, I’m dreading it, or I’ve got to have a performance conversation with one of my people that I’m dreading, whatever the reason is. Just get it done with, do it. That way It’s off your plate, and it’s off your mind. 

John Your stress level will go down dramatically. There’s so much stress that’s there needlessly because we are just procrastinating and keeping it in our to-do list much longer than it needs to be. The third thing I will say is to just simplify. Simplify, simplify, simplify. And what I mean by this is sometimes we stress, oftentimes because we are overwhelmed. Things are too complicated, too big, and ultimately we are we are trying to do more than we ultimately need to do. There’s many, many examples I can think of, but there’s a lot of times where I have had 15 different things on my plate. And I just naturally because they’ve landed on my to-do list, I’m naturally thinking I’ve got to do all 15 things and I’ve got to do them ASAP. And it’s creating the stress. 

John But when I really look at it and say, OK, do I really need to do all these things? Are these things sometimes things that I’m just doing because I’ve been in the habit of doing or I feel like I need to? Is there someone else that can do this, or do I really need to do it at all? Will it really make that big of an impact? I found that I was stressing about something not long ago, and in reality, I said, You know what? It’s not something that’s going to make a dramatic impact on my business. It’s not going to make a dramatic difference in any of the people that I’m working with. It’s really not going to affect that much other than negatively because I’m stressing about it. 

John So why is it even on my radar screen? Let me just move it off, and I just discarded it. Totally. And the amount of stress that was relieved from that, I just made a decision. You know what, for the little bit of possible gain, it wasn’t worth the drawback of all that stress. It really wasn’t. It wasn’t going to make any kind of major difference. And it was that simplification that made the stress go away. I just said, Listen, my to-do list now is more simple. I just eliminated something there. If I can think about my day in the course of a day and instead of it being a mishmash of a zillion different things, I got running around in my head. Ed, if I can just simplify it to OK. What would be the two or three things that would make me feel best about this day that tomorrow when I woke up, I’d say, Wow, I feel great because I did this yesterday. 

John What would need to happen or what’s the one thing if I did nothing else but just this one thing today that would make me feel great? What would that be? Honestly, what would be the one thing I could do? But one conversation I could have, the one thing I could accomplish, the one thing I could write. The one thing I could create or produce. The one thing I could. Whatever one person I could, you know, impact that is how you simplify your day. So I encourage you to think about that. There’s a lot more that have gone on stress. Believe me, you’re talking to a guy who has dramatically changed my own life in many, many ways, and one of which is the stress that I deal with. Is it perfect now? Do I still deal with stress? Sure. But can I manage it better? Yes. 

John Is it significantly less stress than I dealt with for years and years and years? Yes, big time. And I’ve learned a lot about that, and I want to help you too. So if I can help you reach out to me directly, I’m more than happy to talk about the stuff you’re going through, whatever I want to help. Um, so in any event, I hope that’s been helpful for you today. Just some thoughts again on stress, and I want to help you make your life as best as possible, and a big part of that is making it stress-free and finding happiness. 

John So in any event, I hope this has been helpful and enjoyable as always. Like Subscribe, Share, go down below, give a five-star review. It does mean a lot to me. I appreciate that. I look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks, everybody. Bye. 

John Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader for suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching. Reach me at John@johnlaurito.com. Once again, that’s John@johnlauritogroup.com. Thanks, lead on!

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