If You're Not Stressed Out... You're Doing It Wrong - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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If You're Not Stressed Out... You're Doing It Wrong

Nov 25, 2014


You should be running around muttering, 'I don't need this right now. I'm busy.' You should be growling under your breath and skipping lunch breaks and surviving on coffee and waving away anyone approaching you.

If your hair is not falling out and a vein is not dangerously close to exploding in your forehead... you're not doing a good job.

Or at least that's what it seems like sometimes. You see these people who are always 'busy'... don't have a minute to breathe. They look like they are accomplishing so much.

You think you should be 'busy' too. So you take on too much, you power through illnesses, you don't stop to breathe...

But then, do you notice those admirable few... the ones right at the top? The leaders. They stride around, the picture of calm. They stop to smile and say hello.

They work incredibly long hours but they look like they are taking it easy... like they enjoy their lives.

Stress Levels Up = Productivity Levels Down
Source: Ollyy/Shutterstock

That's because these people have managed to end the endless stress cycle we all seem to be stuck in, to enter a much more coveted state of being, the productivity cycle.

Stress Cycle: When you behave stressed... you become stressed. Becoming stressed lowers your productivity. Being unproductive... in turn... increases your stress levels... which of course plunges you deeper into unproductivity... and so the cycle continues.

On the other hand, there's the:

Productivity Cycle: Being relaxed makes you more productive... which gives you more enjoyment of your work ... which, in turn, makes you more successful at work.

So forget about what others think. If they see you walking calmly instead of hurriedly and think, 'looks like he doesn't do much work at all' or if they see that you get more sleep than them or that your face looks calmer... that you have the time to smile when they are pulling their hair out... that's their problem not yours.

Your problem is preserving your stress-free mind - so you can live a healthier, happier, more successful life.

I once had a superior tell me, 'if you're not having nightmares about the work, you're not doing enough.'

I was having nightmares. And I was still not doing enough!

To be more productive, your stress levels should be maintained at healthy levels, not at nightmare levels. So here are some ways to help you maintain healthy stress levels.

Don't give in to pessimistic fantasies

Some worry is ok - it forces us into action. But much of the worry that creases our foreheads is in anticipation of troubles that haven't yet arrived: I won't be able to finish this. I won't be able to wake up in time for the meeting, etc. You may have a hundred worrying scenarios running through your head draining you of energy - but all these awful things are not going to happen (one at most, if at all!) So you just waste a lot of energy worrying about naught, and are not able to focus on the task at hand. Thus causing work to pile up and the stress cycle to kick into gear. Instead, plan, prioritise, pick a task and focus on it.

Prioritise... be wise with your time

Stress often stems from the issue of too much work... too little time. So be wise with your time. First thing in the morning... before you start drowning in emails and annoying little tasks that you are bombarded with, give yourself the chance to figure out what you want to do most that day.

Assign big chunks of your time to your main priorities for the day - then shut everybody else out while you focus on those. Chalk out little periods of time in between these, say half an hour before or after lunch for example, to do the mundane things like respond to emails, schedule meetings, and fill out reports.

Be early ... everywhere

I haven't really measured it but I'm concerned that I'm spending at least fifteen minutes and thousands of brain cells everyday repeating a litany of: I'm late I'm late I'm late I'm late.

Not to mention running in uncomfortable footwear and a heartbeat that's moving faster than the traffic... and therein lies a huge source for my daily stress-load.

And being early is not just about getting to places... early is good everywhere, deadlines, bedtimes...

If you sleep late at night you stress about not getting enough sleep before you have to wake up. If you don't wake up early you think, 'ugh I could have gotten so much done this morning'. Then, of course, you end up working late and come home completely drained of energy. Classic stress cycle.

Sleep well, of course

This one is really hard for me. All through university I was a hardcore nocturnal being - studying late into the night. The habit never went away, but now that I'm older it's harder to survive late nights. And then I learned that the most restorative hours of sleep are between 10 pm and 4 am!

When you sleep, your brain doesn't. It goes into process mode - processing everything that's happening to you, dealing with your stress while the rest of you recovers. It's important for a stress-free day, to have enough time for your brain to do this at night.

Eat what you love

You thought I was going to say eat healthy, right? Instead, I say eat what you love. Ok, maybe I think there should be a balance between the two. There are some things we must eat to live... the healthy foods - fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. But there are some things we must live to eat - the food that makes time stop, makes us sit back and close your eyes and forget about everything! It doesn't matter what it is - eat some and smile.

My sister-in-law is always on some kind of diet. But she always has two biscuits with her morning cup of chai. Now you might think that's not much of an indulgence - two tea biscuits, what's wrong with that? you ask. Nothing. I didn't say it had to be something extravagant, or fancy or unhealthy.

Just something that slows down time. When she's got her cup of chai and two biscuits - I imagine her two squealing kids, busy husband, bustling house, professional responsibilities... all quiet down and recede into the background. Eat a piece of peace everyday, whatever makes the cacophony of your life quiet down.

Keep your eye on the bigger picture

Truth is, stress doesn't come from your work, your boss, you family, your finances... it come from your thoughts. You can choose to take care of these thoughts, change them. It takes a little work, a little practice, but you can do it. In fact, you must do it.

Even if in the short run you think, okay, I can handle stress, no big deal, it helps me to perform better... in the long run being stuck in a stress cycle becomes a big deal. It can lead to failing health, failing productivity, failing relationships... failing lives. The actor Viggo Mortensen relates this story:

"One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren't enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress."

So grab those reigns, and slow down. Put a calm smile on your face and walk around with a steady purposeful stride, as though you have everything under control, because then you will.


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11 Responses to "If You're Not Stressed Out... You're Doing It Wrong"


04 Dec, 2014

Mr. Kamlesh - I took your advice and wrote Learning Chinese Is Easy... Learning People is What's Difficult... hope you got a chance to read it! https://www.commonsenseliving.co.in/common-sense-living-letters/detail.aspx?date=12/02/2014&story=184&title=Learning-Chinese-is-Easy-Learning-People-is-Whats-Difficult

Narinder Sharma

01 Dec, 2014

Think one of the best quote "If You're Not Stressed Out... You're Doing It Wrong" to understand as means that -if not stressed out means not doing by heart and not doing by heart means practically seldom good results.

Like (1)


30 Nov, 2014

Excellent article !


28 Nov, 2014

definitely a Good Morning read


27 Nov, 2014

wonderful and completely meaningful for present living styles

Prakash Rath

26 Nov, 2014

A nice post. Thanks

J n Shah

26 Nov, 2014

Very nice and appropriate article in today's times.


25 Nov, 2014

Very useful article


25 Nov, 2014

"look at the big picture always" was best part for me. Also that advice from horse master is something very wise. Keep coming these small but useful loads of wisdom. Thanks for sharing.


25 Nov, 2014

Great article.Do write one on conflict resolution in our interactions with others.thks

IN Rao

25 Nov, 2014



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