What do you do with stress?

In the past, I have written about the idea that “stress” is not inherently bad. In fact, I stand by this taoist claim: I sign up for stress because I know it will make me a better person. I do not avoid obstacles simply for means of procrastination. I recognize that suffering is a fundamental component of life. 

But that is not to say “stress” is not hard to deal with. In fact, it is supposed to be hard to deal with. It is not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to challenge you and make you think about your life. 

The question I often explore is how do you deal with stress? And I think that answer certainly depends on the context. It would be unfair to unpack this prompt without first specifying the importance of contextual decision making. 

Everything should be taken in context. The problem, though, especially in stressful situations, is that things tend to get blown (mentally) out of proportion. 

We tend to over-estimate the impact of low-impact items. This is called being slightly neurotic or anxious and I certainly have a bit of this in my blood (some would say quite a bit actually). 

I think being able to remove yourself (mentally) from situations to understand their greater context is really valuable. Sometimes environments can get nightmare-ish – and in those situations what you do will really test your mental abilities. 

I return to the idea of what do you do with stress to underscore the impact of your first instinct. Everyone copes with stress differently. 

Put another way, how do you go about cleaning your room? 

Some people organize from left to right, top to bottom, clothes then sheets, then floor…Some people hire someone else, come to get a friend…others spend all day on it. Others only clean what is important.

What is your default way to solve a problem? 

Do you organize all the steps? Do you go with your first instinct? Do you test lots of things at the same time? Do you delegate? Do you talk out loud?

Everyone has a bias – and it could depend on the nature of the problem too. 

Dealing with stress is the same. When you are really nervous what do you do?

Do you eat? Do you run? Do you write everything down? Do you cry? Do you work harder? Do you shut down? 

I think building resiliency is critically important to reaching any level of high-growth success. There will be impossible times in the future…times where you, without proper context, will feel like the end of the world is tomorrow. 

But then you (and the rest of the world) will wake up the very next day and you will have to begin another battle. 

If there is one thing I really believe in, it is the power of the human to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. When I am stressed, I tend to write everything down…and then execute. Execute. And execute.

I tend to work a lot harder when I feel misunderstood or incomplete. I tend to overcompensate when I feel pushed down by something I care about. 

And I hope I never lose that ability. 

Also published on Medium.