In other words, stop rushing and slow down.
At Stress School, we use a concept called stress load to calculate the total amount of stress you are under. Each variable in the formula represents a factor in your overall stress level. Its is calculated as:
Stress Load = significance x volume x velocity x time
My previous post focused on the volume variable of your stress load. This post focuses on velocity.
Velocity accounts for both the speed at which you are doing things as well as the speed at which stressful stimuli are coming at you (texts, emails, natural disasters, etc). Simply put, the faster you are trying to get things done, also known as rushing, and the more shit that comes at you over any given period of time greatly amplifies the neurological and physiological experiences of stress.
When your brain’s perception is that a resource is scarce (whether that be money, food or time), it responds to that perception of scarcity as a survival threat and then activates its very limited catalog of survival responses. When it comes to the normal responsibilities of live and getting shit done without having a panic attack, these responses are not helpful.
For example, as I write this post, my 22 month old daughter is napping. I have to get on and off this soap box quick if I want to get it done within that window. As such, I am benefitting from the positive effect of the stress with added focus but I am also noticing the negative effects of shallowness of breath and tightening of my shoulders.
The Paradox of Rushing
Fortunately, I am writing a f*cking blog post about Going 5% Slower and as I allow myself to do that, to ease my pace just a little, my stress response instantly lowers, my breath deepens, my shoulders relax and – believe it or not – my typing is improving so that I am making fewer errors and actually being more productive.
In our modern world, despite the “convenience” of technology, we are paradoxically burdened with more and more shit to do. The effects of this never ending and ever increasing amount of shit on our stress load calculation is generating unsustainable loads which is destroying our physical and mental health not to mention the quality of our lives.
Stress School and its Integrative Stress Management approach exists to combat this. And for today, I offer you the simple but profound advice to slow down 5%. Doing so is a matter of self-awareness, attitude and applying the Do 5% Less tactic.
Here is the “how to”:
1) Feel: Pay attention to your body. If you feel tense, it is very likely you are at max velocity. Its time to slow down.
2) Attitude: Going 5% slower is a body language, an attitude and perspective. Sit up right or lean back, just a little bit (definitely don’t hunch forward). Slow your fingers down on the keyboard by just a hair. Walk from point A to point B briskly but not urgently. Imagine that you are cruising on a chopper, not a ninja motorcycle. Channel a whisper of your inner Big Lebowski. Let yourself know on a deep level that “its OK, I can take a breath, its all going to get done. Moving so fast that I are not breathing is not going to help.”
3) Do 5% Less. It is hard to Go 5% Slower when you always have too much shit to do. Go through the exercises in the Do 5% Less exercise to actually delete, defer or delegate some of your responsibilities. That way, your brain won’t perceive that its trapped in scarcity and your survival response won’t activate.
For more tips to reduce your stress load, visit my Youtube channel.