Do you seek out routine and structure when your stress level climbs? Hey, I get it. It keeps things easy and predictable.
Not everyone copes with stress this way. Do you crave novel experiences to offset the stifling effects of stress instead?
Finding a middle ground between these two tendencies requires balancing control against acceptance. For now, let's take a closer look at the side of the spectrum favoring control.
A Fact with Wow Factor
You influence your world from the inside out. Approaching life from this perspective generates happiness, health, and resilience. [Source]
Stress Less Tip
Schedules and other time management strategies appear to set life on a smooth course. Yet every so often, you'll still bump into people and situations out of your control. Examine how you react. When others refuse to play along, do you feel irritated and try harder to get them on board with your plan? Do you worry about what will happen if others don't do the "right" thing? Or do you work around them to avoid disruption and slowdowns?
When anxiety or frustration surfaces, perform a control check-in. Clarify your role in the situation by asking yourself, Which "C" am I?
Unobstructed access to your choice of outcomes means that you're a cause-and-effect catalyst. Use creative problem-solving to change your circumstance.
Moving further from the center of the lotus in the above image dilutes your control over a situation. You have three options as a contributing influencer or concerned observer:
Of course, these choices all apply to a cause-and-effect catalyst, too.
Everyday challenges threaten the balance between accepting change and believing your actions make a difference. At a certain stress threshold, a blend of decision paralysis and indifference sets in. You stall taking action, convinced that your choices won't affect the outcome. This mindset shift explains why you cast aside previous healthy behaviors such as eating well, exercising, socializing, and engaging in hobbies.
If you want your moxie back, you must recognize opportunities for impactful choices.
Tempering your locus of control, or perception of the source of control in life, prevents stress from morphing into burnout. Your locus fluctuates in response to internal motivations and external influences. Overlap and moderation of both help you recover from setbacks and achieve success as defined by you.
The above diagram shows how clinging to control coincides with confidence-destroying internal focus. By contrast, getting stuck in an external focus rut leads to burnout and a lack of motivation to take a stand.
Deliberate choices with direct outcomes produce two underrated benefits. First, as your perspective shifts, you notice other ways to enhance your life through available choices. Second, your mood improves along with your energy level, further enabling the cycle.
Take back your power over stress through a direct cause-and-effect choice. The choice should leave you feeling confident and creative about taking action. Cut your hair, wear lipstick to the grocery store, change the radio station in the car, make what you want for dinner. How will you change your world?
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