4 Ways to Decrease Stress and Maximize Performance

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Stress is one of the biggest factors holding people back from creating transformational breakthroughs in both their personal and professional lives. If you don’t know how to handle stress, it could become the factor that, at first, keeps you from performing at your absolute best, and ultimately — if not addressed — kills you.

This threat is widespread, of course, because, in the business world, the demands, obligations and expectations entrepreneurs face to continually deliver exceptional results, seems never-ending. Not to mention that, when you combine all of the different personal obligations you face, you begin to see why stress so often is called the silent killer.

Certainly, there are many different strategies that highly successful people use to deal with stress and not let it get the best of them. But I thought that instead of citing the experts, I’d share four particular things I personally pay attention to on a daily basis. All have greatly helped me to decrease the amount of stress in my life.

And while, initially, they may seem simple and just plain common sense, remember: What’s common sense isn’t always common practice.

1. Maximize endorphin production.

Nothing has positively benefited my life more than getting into the habit of having a workout during the course of my day, especially when I have a lot going on and feel stressed out.

One of the quickest and surest ways to diminish the negative side effects of stress is to get your sweat on. When you partake in some sort of physical activity during your day, your body releases endorphins, which end up triggering a positive feeling in your entire body. Not only will you decrease your stress by getting a workout in, but you will be lightening your mood and setting yourself up for a more productive day.

Personal experience: A few months ago,, I was completely worn out and on the verge of burnout. I was traveling all the time and giving the upper hand to my excuses as to why I wasn’t working out and taking better care of myself.

After three weeks of feeling miserable, I knew I had to do something fast. It didn’t matter where I was in the world: I made a commitment with myself to get two workouts in each and every day. So, I did a quick workout first thing in the morning to jump-start my day and then another workout later, which usually consisted of cardio at the end of the day.

This was the exact same routine I’d used when playing professional football and college football. Even though I was no longer an athlete, this routine of maximizing my endorphin production twice a day worked exceptionally well. I started to feel a whole lot better about myself and noticed positive changes in my work.

The message here is, you don’t have to get in two workouts each and every day like me, but you should make it a priority to maximize endorphin production at some point during your day. I have found from personal experience that one of the most efficient ways to increase productivity, reduce stress and spark creativity is to just get moving.

2. Learn how to say “no” more often.

As an ambitious and highly motivated individual, I find that one of the hardest things to learn over the years has been to say “no”more often. When you are looking to take your life and business to the next level, saying “yes” and agreeing to every little opportunity that presents itself is almost second nature.

But the fact of the matter is that many of the daily obligations and opportunities we agree to aren’t going to move the needle for us. Of course there are things that need our attention, as the day goes on, which we didn’t plan for, but I advise planning your day the night before and never having more than five tasks on your daily to-do list.

What this simple habit does is force you to zero-in on what matters most for that particular day that will give you your biggest return on energy and time.

Personal tip: Another key strategy that has helped me say no no more often is having in front of me at all times a list of the three biggest priorities that will impact my business the most. When a decision is needed or an opportunity comes knocking, I glance at those priorities — an action which then guides me, on where my time and energy will go.

If the opportunity doesn’t include one of those three things on my priority list, I will decide whether it needs to be delegated to a team member or if another course of action needs to be taken. Learning how to say no more often is a game-changer.

3. Go make someone else’s day.

One of the main reasons why a lot of us get easily stressed and let anxiety and worry take a place at the forefront of our lives is that we get too caught up in our own little world. Yet, there is so much more to life than what we ourselves are experiencing.

When I notice that I’m feeling stressed and that my daily workload is getting the best of me, I make it a habit — and it’s one that brings me great joy– to go make someone else’s day. For you, this might involve calling up a friend and asking how his or her day is going, lending a listening ear to someone who has it much worse than you do or giving back to the local community.

There is no right or wrong way on how to make someone else’s day, but the next time you feel stressed, I challenge you to explore different ways to be of service to someone in that particular moment.

Personal tip: I keep a stack of cards next to my desk, and not a week goes by where I don’t write a thank you note to someone that I am extremely grateful for. My grandfather always used to tell me when I was younger about the significance of handwritten notes, and I haven’t forgotten that advice to this day. Want to instantly elevate your well-being? Go be of service and make someone else’s day.

4. Monitor what you put into your body.

One of the first things people turn to when they’re stressed is junk food. Indulging in your favorite treat from time to time won’t harm you, but when you consistently fail to fuel your body with the right food, you’ll lose your chance to achieve a level of peak performance.

According to Mark HymanNew York Times best-selling author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, eating whole, real food restores balance and reduces the negative effects that stress has on your body. Replacing harmful substances such as caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars with clean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats helps regulate your hormone levels — including the stress hormones.

Personal tip: I tell people all the time that one of my best decisions for elevating my performance and decreasing stress levels was getting my blood tested to see what my deficiencies were, then hiring a nutritionist to show me how to fuel my body to fill those specific needs.

After one month of changing my eating habits and getting rid of the junk, I felt like a new man, able to perform at a higher level for a longer period of time than what I’d previously achieved. You can have all the success in the world, but if you don’t have your health, that success means absolutely nothing. So, make your health and what you put into your body a priority. Use the four strategies I’ve described.

And, don’t let the hustle and bustle of life and negative side effects of stress be the reason why you don’t begin the journey of living your best life. Today.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Have a Bigger Impact in Your Personal and Professional Life

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In my travels all over the world, speaking to different organizations of all sizes, there are two common questions that I always seem to receive at some point before or after I deliver my keynote presentation: “How can I decrease the daily stress in my life, and, “How can I have a bigger impact this year?”

Most people are stressed out at a very unhealthy level and truly believe that they must go through pain and all kinds of stress in order to take their lives and business to the next level. But this popular belief couldn’t be more wrong.

Yes, you absolutely need to sacrifice a tremendous amount and work in a way you have never worked before, but not at the expense of feeling miserable. The truth of the matter is that there is a way to not only decrease stress levels at a rapid rate, but also transform the impact that you have in the world. The more stressed out that you become, the more paralyzed your ability to unleash your incredible potential into the world.

Here are three things that have worked exceptionally well for me in the hopes of looking to minimize stress and increase impact.

1. Live in the now.

Regardless of where you may be in your life, whether it’s a time of failure and distress or a time of unbelievable success, don’t forget to live in the now.  Be as present as possible. All too often, we let our ambition and desire get in the way of enjoying life today, which will always provide anxiety and stress to some degree.

Living in the moment doesn’t mean completely forgetting about the past and the future; it means not allowing the past or the future to control the present. I can honestly say that one of the things I am most proud of during my short time in the NFL was being present every single moment and taking it all in. People who rush, rush, rush toward their future often forget about what they’re doing right now.

Time goes quickly, and if you don’t stop and enjoy what’s occurring, at the end of your life you’ll end up wondering what exactly happened.

2. Be a champion of preparation.

Working insanely hard doesn’t stress people out; weak preparation and working hard on insignificant tasks is what stresses people out. So, be a champion of preparation. Do the work others aren’t willing to do. Being around future Hall of Famers in the NFL and seeing “up close and personal” what it really took to excel at an extremely high level was eye-opening for me. I immediately noticed the ridiculous amount of preparation and hard work that was required to be the best.

I also noticed that these were the players who never worried and stressed themselves out, because they knew deep down that they worked to the best of their ability. They left it all out there, each and every day, regardless of whether the context was the film room, the practice field or the way in which they were taking care of their bodies.

Sure, many people would love to have the glory and accolades of becoming a Hall of Famer, but how many would actually do the work to obtain it? That is the question. So, start today. Dedicate yourself from this day forward to preparing to be the best you can be at whatever it is you want to do.

Study, research, practice, prepare. There is immense gratification that comes from adopting this mentality. It’s never enough to just do what’s required. When you become a champion of preparation, you will notice your impact rise and your stress levels drastically decline.

3. Celebrate every day.

There is power in celebrating everything — especially the small daily wins. Make it a personal habit right now to start celebrating everything in your life. Just because you haven’t reached one of your main goals yet doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and capitalize on where you currently are. One good way to get into the habit is by recording your small daily wins in a journal.

I personally use a Moleskine notebook, and at the end of each day, I write down five wins for that specific day. It doesn’t matter how bad my overall day was or what happened, I force myself to jot down five positive things. It puts me in a positive state of mind before I go to bed and builds momentum for the following day. Whether those wins are big, medium or small doesn’t matter. Celebrate those wins!

These three daily habits have greatly benefited my life and I hope they do the same for you.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com