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11 Stress-Busting Mindset Hacks You Need in Your Life Right Now

11 Stress-Busting Mindset Hacks You Need in Your Life Right Now

We live in a fast-paced, competitive, and stressful world. You may believe that you’ll eventually make it big, but there’s no escaping the everyday doubts and disappointments that everyone faces. However, there’s no reason to blame yourself at all.

According to the American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of workers are stressed with their job due to increasing hours, concerns about job security, and personal issues. When left unchecked, stress will slowly consume you—physically and mentally—and will cause you to miss out on the better things in life.

It may be hard, but you need to be resilient. Despite the blur we call life, you need to stay focused on your goals. Here are 11 mindset hacks that will help you do this:

1. “Can I do something about it?”

The golden rule of managing stress is to focus only on what you can control. Doing otherwise will only waste your time and energy. The disappointment will also lead to even more stress.

The key here is to liberate yourself and save your energy for things that count. Every morning, determine the tangible goals you can accomplish that day and try not to be distracted with meaningless things, like the bad weather, heavy traffic, and the sour attitude of your boss.

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2. Try a little humor

A dose of humor is an excellent cure for stress. Whenever you feel overwhelmed with work, try taking a break and revisit an episode of your favorite sitcom. Social media also makes it easy to find lighthearted videos – be it a prank or an animal video.

3. Drink a little caffeine

Stress and being out of energy are closely connected. Fortunately, people have known a cure for midday drowsiness for years. Not only will a cup of coffee help stimulate the brain, it will also provide you with an excuse to have a 5-minute break from work.

Studies have shown that coffee has positive effects on a person’s mood. Just remember to keep it moderate and not have more than 400 milligrams of caffeine in a day.

4. Try being mentally neutral

    A lot of people experience stress by focusing on one of two extremes. After all, not everything has a “right” or “wrong” answer. You can avoid a lot of stress by looking for a middle ground. For example, just because a co-worker has a different idea from yours, doesn’t mean you can’t work together for a common goal. Put the differences aside and look at the things you can agree on.

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    5. Try a little less

    People today can learn a lot from the philosophy of minimalism. Rather than giving in to consumerism and aiming to have more, you should roll back to the essentials and prioritize value. Web designers, for example, prioritize user experience over fancy graphics and visual effects.

    You can apply minimalism to your life in a variety of ways. A good start is to embrace minimalism at home and focus on owning less possessions. In addition to organization, having a minimalistic home will also lead to big savings in the long run.

    6. Look for the “at least” in every failure

    “Too bad the employer didn’t choose me, at least they pointed out the weaknesses in my resume.” Nothing is more powerful than the spirit of a lifelong learner. Remember that every failure has a silver lining. Leverage them and make a commitment to improve yourself.

    7. Isolate home from work

      Everybody deserves an escape from a hard day’s work. Unfortunately, some people deny themselves this privilege and choose to resume working when they get home.

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      If possible, try to discuss with your boss the possibility of postponing urgent assignments until the next workday. Home is where you should be resting, not a place to worry over tomorrow’s deadlines.

      8. Ask for help

      A lot of stress at work can be avoided if only you asked for someone else’s help. It doesn’t matter if you’re unsure about something or simply incapable of handling all the tasks yourself. At the very least, you should accept the input of others and learn.

      9. Try stress-busting apps

      Yes – there are now mobile apps and games for busting your work-related stress. Alternatively, you can look at apps that can help you organize and maintain your life/work balance.

      10. Look forward to future events

      It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do; there’s bound to be something you’re looking forward to right now. Admit it, there should be a few things that popped into your head upon reading the last sentence.

      Whether it’s an upcoming birthday or a new movie, you need to identify these simple pleasures and appreciate that you have something worth looking forward to.

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      11. Experience the joy of others

      Sometimes, the key to beating stress is to be selfless and focus on the happiness of others rather than yourself. If there’s nothing you can do to cheer yourself up, perhaps there’s something you can do to lighten up someone else’s day.

      Remember that it doesn’t take much to do something good for another person. Showing your gratitude by saying “thank you” should be enough to put a smile on someone’s face. Now that you thought about that, try to remember the last person who helped you out. It’s payback time.

      ____

      Image Credits:

      Woman girl freedom happy sun, Freedom sky hands handcuffs clouds Via Pixabay

      Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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      Published on May 26, 2020

      7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

      7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

      Problems are, by their very nature, problematic. There are life problems, work problems, creative problems, and relationship problems. When we’re lucky, intuition takes over, and we solve a problem right away. When we’re not so lucky, we get stuck.

      We might spend weeks or even months obsessing over how to write that term paper, get out of debt, or win back the love of our life. But instead of obsessing, let’s look at some effective problem solving techniques that people in the know rely on.

      Ideation Vs Evaluation

      It’s important to first understand and separate two stages of creativity before we look at effective problem solving techniques. Ideation is like brainstorming. It’s the stage of creativity where we’re looking for as many possible solutions as we can think of. There’s no judgment or evaluation of ideas at this stage. More is more.

      After we’ve come up with as many solutions as possible, only then can we move onto the evaluation stage. This is when we analyze each possible solution and think about what works and what doesn’t. Here’s when all those good ideas from ideation rise to the top and the outlandish and impractical ones are abandoned.

      7 Problem Solving Techniques That Work

      Everyone has different ways of solving problems. Some are more creative, some are more organized. Some prefer to work on problems alone, others with a group. Check out the problem solving techniques below and find one that works for you.

      1. Lean on Your Squad

      The first of our seven problem solving techniques is to surround yourself with people you trust. Sometimes problems can be solved alone, but other times, you need some help.

      There’s a concept called emergence that begins to explain why groups may be better for certain kinds of problem solving. Steven Johnson describes emergence as bottom up system organization.[1] My favorite example is an ant colony. Ants don’t have a president or boss telling them what to do. Instead, the complicated organization of the ant colony comes out of each individual ant just fulfilling their biological destiny.

      Group creativity can also take on an emergent quality. When individuals really listen to, support, and add onto each other’s ideas, the sum of that group creativity can be much more than what any individual could have created on their own.

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      Therefore, if you are struggling to solve a problem, you may want to find a group of people with whom you can collaborate, so you can start riffing with them about possible solutions.

      2. Regulate Your Emotions

      The next of the problem solving techniques is to be honest about how you’re feeling. We can’t solve problems as efficiently when we’re stressed out or upset, so starting with some emotional self-awareness goes a long way in helping us problem solve.

      Dr. Daniel Siegel famously tells us to “Name it to tame it.” [2] He’s talking about naming our feelings, which offers us a better chance of regulating ourselves. I have to know that I’m stressed or upset if I want to calm down quickly in order to get back to a more optimal problem-solving state.

      After you know how you’re feeling, you can take steps to regulate that feeling. If you’re feeling stressed out or upset, you can take a walk or try breathing exercises. Mindfulness exercises can also help you regain your sense of presence.

      3. Listen

      One thing that good problem solvers do is listen. They collect all the information they can and process it carefully before even attempting to solve the problem.

      It’s tempting to jump right in and start problem solving before the scope of the problem is clear. But that’s a mistake.

      Smart problem solvers listen carefully in order to get as many points of view and perspectives as possible. This allows them to gain a better understanding of the problem, which gives them a huge advantage in solving that problem.

      4. Don’t Label Ideas as Bad…Yet

      The fourth of the seven problem solving techniques is to gather as many possible solutions as you can. There are no bad ideas…yet.

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      Think back to the two stages of creativity. When we are in the ideation stage, we shouldn’t be evaluating each other’s ideas, input, and possible solutions.

      When we evaluate, judge, and criticize during the ideation stage, we inadvertently hamper creativity. One possible outcome of evaluating during ideation is creative suppression.[3]

      When someone responds to someone else’s creative input with judgment or criticism, creative suppression can occur if the person who had the idea shuts down because of that judgment or criticism.

      Imagine you’re at a meeting brainstorming ways to boost your sales numbers. You suggest hiring a new team member, but your colleague rolls their eyes and says that can’t happen since the numbers are already down.

      Now, your colleague may be 100% correct. However, their comment might make you shut down for the rest of the meeting, which means your team won’t be getting any more possible solutions from you.

      If your colleague had waited to evaluate the merits of your idea until after the brainstorming session, your team could have come up with more possible solutions to their current problem.

      During the ideation stage, more is more. We want as many ideas as possible, so reserve the evaluation until there’s no more ideating left to do.

      Another trick for better ideating is to “Yes And” each other’s ideas[4] In improvisation, there’s a principle known as “Yes And.” It means that one improviser should agree with the other’s idea for the scene and then add a new detail onto that reality.

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      For example, if someone says, “I can’t hear over your loud music,” the other person needs to go along with that idea and then add onto it. They might say, “Sorry, I’ll turn it down, but I don’t think everyone else here at the club will appreciate it.”

      Now the scene is getting interesting. We’re in a club, and the DJ is going to turn the music down. Playing “Yes And” with each other made the scene better by filling in details about who and where the improvisers are.

      Yes Anding also works well during ideation sessions. Since we’ve already established that we shouldn’t be evaluating each other’s ideas yet, Yes Anding gives us something we can do. We can see the merits of each other’s ideas and try to build on them. This will make all of our possible solutions more fully realized than a simple laundry list.

      5. Approach Problems With Playfulness

      Approaching problem solving too seriously can exacerbate the problem. Sometimes we get too fixated on finding solutions and lose a sense of playfulness and fun.

      It makes sense. When there are deadlines and people counting on us, we can try to force solutions, but stepping back and approaching problems from a more playful perspective can lead to more innovative solutions.

      Think about how children approach problem solving. They don’t have the wealth of wisdom that decades on this planet give. Instead, they play around and try out imaginative and sometimes unpractical approaches.

      That’s great for problem solving. Instead of limiting ourselves to how things have always been done, a sense of play and playfulness can lead us to truly innovative, out-of-the-box solutions.

      6. Let the Unconscious Mind Roam

      This may seem counterintuitive, but another technique to try when you become too fixated on a problem is to take a break to let the unconscious mind take over for a bit.

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      Our conscious brain can only handle a limited amount of information at a time. Plus, it’s energetically exhausting to use our conscious brain for problem solving. Think about a time when you were studying for a test. It’s draining.[5]

      But we’re in luck. There’s another part of our brain that isn’t draining and can integrate tons more information at a time—our unconscious.

      This is why you come up with your best ideas in the shower or on your way to work or while you’re jogging. When you give your conscious brain a break, your unconscious has a chance to sift through mounds of information to arrive at solutions.

      It’s how I write my articles. With my conscious brain, I think about which article I’m going to write. My problem is how to write it, so once I think carefully about the topic, I take a break. Then, the structure, sources, content, and sometimes phrasing happens in fits and starts while I’m not thinking about the article at all. It happens when I’m lying in bed, showering, and walking in the woods.

      The key is to get in the habit of practicing this alternation between conscious and unconscious problem solving and to absolutely not force solutions. Sometimes, you just need to take a little break.

      7. Be Candid

      The last of the problem solving techniques happens during the evaluation stage. If we’re going to land on the best possible solution to our problems, we have to be able to openly and honestly evaluate ideas.

      During the evaluating stage, criticism and feedback need to be delivered honestly and respectfully. If an idea doesn’t work, that needs to be made clear. The goal is that everyone should care about and challenge each other. This creates an environment where people take risks and collaborate because they trust that everyone has their best interest in mind and isn’t going to pull any punches.

      Final Thoughts

      In order to come up with the best solutions for problems, ideation and evaluation have to be two distinct steps in the creative process. Then, you should tap into some of the above techniques to get your ideas organized and your problems solved.

      Hopefully, these seven problem solving techniques will help your problems be less…problematic.

      More Tips for Problem Solving

      Featured photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Steven Johnson: Emergence
      [2] Dr. Dan Siegel: The whole-brain child
      [3] American Psychological Association: Creative mortification
      [4] Play Your Way Sane: And What?: Yes And
      [5] Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow

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