Many people in the business world today are experiencing high levels of stress, and corporate burnout is becoming a worryingly common phenomenon. According to this Idea, there is a way out that involves four simple steps. By making these steps a habit and therefore a natural part of your being, you can lead yourself to a better and more productive lifestyle.
There is no such thing as a stressful job or a stressful boss; in fact, all stress comes down to something called ‘rumination’ — the mental process of thinking over and over again about a past or future event with which negative emotion is attached. This is the notion put forward by the Center for Creative Leadership’s Nick Petrie, who discusses the work of Dr Derek Roger on stress and resilience in a 2013 white paper.
According to Roger’s work, stress levels are not determined by external factors in our environment; rather, it is the way we think and react that influences how stressed-out we feel. In particular, people who ruminate a lot have chronically elevated levels of adrenaline and cortisol, whereas non-ruminators may also have plenty of pressure in their lives but do not get stressed by it.
Such rumination can of course be detrimental to health, disastrous for productivity and ruinous for happiness. Yet many people in the working life experience this every day, and eventually when they are unable to see solutions, often simply continue until they completely burnout.
Based on Roger’s research, Petrie highlights four steps that can help executives become less stressed and more resilient:
Repetition of these four steps is the key, says Petrie. As if they are repeated again and again, the brain creates a new habit, and soon executives will not have to consciously do this; it becomes their way of being.
Petrie also suggests three short, practical actions to help to start building the four steps above into a new mental habit:
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