Don’t spread your stress! Sage advice from Kathy Calvin, President, UNF

Don’t spread your stress! Sage advice from Kathy Calvin, President, UNF

During my recent trip to Washington D.C. I sat down with Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation whose job it is to steward over $1 billion dollars entrusted to the UNF.  Kathy and I discussed an issue we are both passionate about – women, gender equality and the gender ‘confidence gap’ – as well as what she’s learnt on managing stress and being a good leader in a very demanding and highly visible position.

You can watch my full interview with Kathy for RawCourage.TV on this link.

One of the things Kathy shared with me (in the clip below) is how important it is to take responsibility for the energy you are sharing with those around you.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the drama of all that you have going on in your work and life, allowing your stress and negative energy to impact how you interact with others can profoundly undermine the quality of your relationship (including your ability to lead!) I mean, where’s the fun hanging out with an emotional vampire? Accordingly, if all you’re doing is focusing on what you don’t have, can’t do or might go wrong, then that’s the impact you’re likely having on others.Tweet: If you’re focusing on what u don’t have/can’t do, likely that’s the impact you’re having on others. @MargieWarrell

Of course you may have plenty of justifications for why you’re feeling stressed. But who doesn’t? Just read the paper if you’re looking for a few.

Taking full responsibility for how you show up at your work, for your family, and for all those you interact with is crucial for your success in work and in life. So as you read this today, I encourage you to think about who you are being for the people around you.

Someone who lifts others up, bringing optimism, enthusiasm, humor, calmness and encouragement.

Or someone who doesn’t.

Stress isn’t the enemy. It’s stressful thinking you must guard against.Tweet: Stress isn’t the enemy. It’s stressful thinking you must guard against. @MargieWarrell

While it’s easy to justify stress and negativity, that doesn’t mean it serves you. You can reduce stress in your life by changing the patterns of thought and behavior that create it and shifting where it resides in your body. Try these ideas.

1. Change your language.

Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “There’s no such thing as stress. Just people having stressful thoughts.” Accordingly, when all you do is talk about how stressed you are, and what’s causing your stress, it amplifies it. Deciding not to talk about it and to use different language helps to shift it. For instance, instead of talking about how stressed you are or how stressful your job is, say you’ve got a lot on but you know you can handle it.

2. Shift your body.

Stress makes us take shallow breaths and to hunker down as though we are going into battle. Hence the tightness you will feel around your shoulders. Get outside for a walk or run, dance to your favorite (preferably not heavy metal!) music, stand tall or just take a few deep breaths – all these can help short circuit your stress response. Try it!

3. Manage your emotions.

You can’t not feel emotions, but you can manage them as they arise.  The more often we feel any particular emotion – whether anxiety, sadness or gratitude – the more it sets up permanent residence in our lives. We trigger and amplify those emotions by both what we are focused on (what we have vs. what we don’t have) and the story we create about it. So deciding to shift your focus and retell another story can alleviate stress from your life. Likewise engaging in an activity that fuels a positive emotion (watching a comedy, gardening, playing with your kids or looking through vacation photos) can dislodge stress and nurture optimism.

To watch more of my interviews with Kathy Calvin and other pretty cool people pop over to RawCourage.TV 

I also regularly post them onto Facebook. So if we aren’t hanging out there occasionally, let’s change that.