A while ago, I wrote a little primer on stress, the upshot of which is; stress is bad, so you should reduce your stress as much as possible, and where it’s not possible to reduce your stress, you should learn and develop coping methods for it.
A couple of the coping methods I’ve written about are pretty common. I’ve advocated, for a very long time, to sweat out the stress. Hard, vigorous exercise at a time of peak lifestyle stress didn’t just help my stress and my health, it saved my marriage. That was nine years ago and just yesterday, my lovely wife and I celebrated 18 years.
Think about that for a moment, because I really need to pause here. Until I wrote the above sentence, I didn’t really think about just how long ago it was that Bikram Yoga helped me transform my life. Half of my marriage and one of my children exist because of hard, regular exercise as a path to controlling stress.
These are all methods of controlling your body’s stress reaction. They’re work, they’re great, but they’re symptomatic treatment of the problem. You know what’s better than treating the symptoms? Treating the cause.
Treat the Cause
Let us again go back nine years. Then, the two main sources of stress in my life were my wife and our finances. I had been unemployed, and we were having serious marital problems.
The first problem got fixed by getting employed again. Having an income again, and being able to repair our finances relieved that particular source. It certainly wasn’t instant, but having a job and living within our means meant it got a little better with every paycheque.
The second wasn’t addressed by exercise. I always talk about it as if it was, but let’s be real. What the yoga did was lower our cortisol levels, and tire us out, to the point where we could talk instead of fight. However, treating the symptom (being stressed out and wound tight) by getting unwound a little allowed us to address the real underlying problems.
In the end, we treated the causes of our two greatest stressers, and wound up much happier and healthier for it.
Remove the Cause
Another option for treating the cause is a stress-ectomy. Perform surgery on your life and cut out the stresser. I know it isn’t possible for all your stressers, but ask yourself this question:
Is this source of stress one I need in my life, or can I simply remove it?
A long time ago, I used to listen to one of the more popular hockey podcasts for my team. In the course of two episodes, the host made two absolutely unforgivable blunders; he allowed a cohost to eat during the recording, and he went political.
If your brand is funny hockey guy, joking around making videos and podcasts about your team, don’t poison your brand with a pig of a cohost chomping on air and talking with a mouthful. It’s ill mannered, it’s gross, it’s distracting and most of all, it’s off brand. There are gross out brands, if yours isn’t one, don’t do it.
Further if you’re a 20-something know nothing, whose expertise is fun hockey broadcasting for a younger audience, leave your politics out. If your brand is hockey dumbassery, stick to it, there’s plenty of stupid political opinions across entire spectrum of the MSM and alternative media.
He made it so I couldn’t tune in without fretting that I’d be hearing politics, or some pig eating, during an ostensibly hockey podcast. That’s stress, and cutting his podcast removed it.
This past week has been revelatory for me. A fair number of people I liked and respected went and blew up their brands in an orgy of going political. As I wrote above, I read you for a particular reason, and your politics aren’t it. Again, if I want political opinions, I’ve got the entire spectrum of the MSM and alternative media.
I will not name names, it is their choice to do it, but in excising them from my life, I made sure to let them know precisely why. If I can’t open your email without fearing another political rant when I’m looking for marketing advice, then…I’m not opening your email.
Click to unsubscribe and, boom, stress gone.
What’s the Alternative?
But what if the thing you need comes with the stresser baked in? What’s the alternative? Well, I’ve shown the negative, so let’s look to the positive. To show you there’s always an alternative I’ll go back to the world of yoga.
I’m a pretty serious yogi, I think you probably gleaned that somewhere along the way, yet I have absolutely no idea, none at all, what the political leanings of the three most influential teachers I’ve had might be. In 12 years, none of them went off brand. I know this because I do know the political leaning of a good number of the other students, and they run the spectrum from far left to far right.
Yes, you read that right, there are extremely conservative people in yoga, not just hippies. It’s a workout, and a helluva good one, and exercise is not political. If your teacher goes there, bail. His politics are not relevant, and there’s always another teacher. Getting what you signed up for, and no outside stress, is very relevant.
Our lives are circumscribed by time, and filled with stress. My advice to you? Jealously guard the first, while ruthlessly excising the second.