How To Take Control Of Your Mind & Eliminate Stress So You Can Live Your Best Life

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How To Deal With Stress & Practice Mindfulness Techniques To Change Your Perception

Ramp up your wisdom and damp down the stress.

Unfortunately, stress has always been a part of our everyday life. But not everyone realizes that you can practice mindfulness techniques to change your perception about it and deal with stress — without burning out.

For example, I have always loved the fall season, even before "pumpkin spice anything" became a reported calendar event. The glorious leaves, crisp air, and autumnal displays energize me.

But, after years of conditioning, those first pumpkin sightings also trigger my mind into feeling like I’m boarding some end of year, time-warping roller coaster ride.

RELATED: How To Stop Trying To Avoid Work Stress (And Use It To Your Advantage, Instead)

In the fall, the days are shorter and the urgency and busy-ness ramp up. And despite a holiday devoted to gratitude, it becomes extremely easy to slip into scarcity mode — there’s not enough time, not enough resources, and not enough me.

A true Danger Zone mostly created between my ears. And in this mode, it is much harder to sort out what really matters.

Have you been on that ride? It’s pretty popular. And like a real roller coaster, it can be very disorienting.

A sense of urgency naturally narrows our perspective and enlarges threats, a brain-wired design that works well for focus during wildebeest attacks, but not so helpful for negotiating 4th quarter goals while balancing self-care and family life.

Part of stress management requires having the ability to continually put things in perspective — to check in with the bigger picture and prioritize by values and meaning, a super-power that can save you a ton of energy.

When you're perceptive, you have the power to think, lead, and choose what matters. And luckily, it is a power you can develop by practicing mindfulness techniques.

But you have to interrupt your busy, automatic, reactive survival mode to access it.

How do you do that when you're so stressed out with everything around you? With cues, reminders, and go-to perspective setting choices. Yes, that’s mindfulness, or choosing with intention, or taking back control!

And no, you won’t lose your focus — you will strengthen it.

Here are the 5 steps to deal with stress by shifting the power of perception in your favor.

1. Decide on a word or mini phrase that will remind you of the big picture.

It can be something that reminds you of what matters most to you, or it can simply be something like "30,000 feet!" to trigger you to step out of the weeds and look at your situation from above.

High-achievers, do not start fretting over picking the 'right' word. You can change it whenever! Just pick one.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • "Periscope up!"
  • "It’s all small stuff."
  • "Health and family first."
  • "Abundance!"
  • "Love over fear.
  • "Marathon, not sprint."

2. Put your word or phrase on sticky notes in 5 different places.

This can be your bathroom mirror, your car dash or console, your laptop, your office door, or even the back of your cell phone. These are your cues.

And for extra credit, stick them anywhere your eyes go daily. (For me, that’s the fridge.)

RELATED: 41 Ways To Reduce Work Stress And Be A Happier Person

3. Every time you see your cue, pause long enough to take a deep breath and say it out loud.

You are actually training your brain and developing the wiring to shift your perspective.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. This creates a mind-flexibility that will support your wisdom and health.

4. Practice this whenever you start feeling even the slightest a twinge of stress.

However stress shows up for you — urgency, impatience, worry, tension, shallow breathing, etc — do it.

Of course, the more you build awareness of what these subtle stress-reaction shifts are for you, the faster you can apply your superpowers and figure out how to deal with stress in your daily life.

5. Add power questions.

There are a few you can do. 

For example:

  • "What matters in the long run?" can be turned to "What's needed now?"
  • "What are my life/leadership priorities?" can be turned to "Who do I want to be?"

These steps will shift you out of the overwhelm of busy and into operating with intention, based on your bigger picture. Each hint of stress or urgency becomes an opportunity to expand your perspective from the "wildebeest" in front of your mind to your wiser viewpoint, informed by your values, purpose, goals, and what matters most.

Practice these mindfulness techniques and you will develop the power to abort your automatic stress reaction to gain greater access to your mind’s other super-powers: curiosity, creativity, compassion, and the courage to lead yourself and others with grounded intention.

Definitely worth a few sticky notes!

Learning how to deal with stress takes a steady dose of inspiration to help us develop and hold the grounded perspective of our best selves.

There are also a couple of great reads to strengthen your perspective skills such as Conscious: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life by Bob Rosen and Emma-Kate Swann​ and Conscious, a wise, researched-based look at how to go deep, think big, get real, and step up to lead in an ever-changing world.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Build Resilience When Life Gets Too Stressful

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Cynthia Ackrill leads stress and leadership workshops in many settings from coaching and leadership programs to women's conferences. Want to learn more strategies to tackle your stress and put more YOU in your future? Contact her or visit her courses and resources on her website.

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