5 Ways to Lower Your Stress

Posted on July 24, 2013

Our brains put out the same drugs when we stress over bills, work, politics, etc. as zebra brains release when they’re running from lions. Zebras think we’re all pansies...Stress today will effect your health tomorrow and for years to come. What are you doing about your stress today? - Robert Sapolsky, Stanford University neurobiologist

lions are zebra stress

Killer Stress, a National Geographic documentary on Netflix, highlights the career of Robert Sapolsky who has studied stress in the same group of baboons since 1978. Here are some ideas to deal with stress I thought of while watching this documentary:

1. Stop comparing yourself to other people, especially people you don’t even know. The more you expose yourself to people who have other goals than you, the more you’re going to compare yourself to them and get distracted from your own goals. The best way to do this is to limit your Facebook, gossip magazine, and any other time you find yourself feeling depressed because you’re not as skinny, rich, etc. as someone else. I recommend reading about Tim Ferriss’ elimination techniques and how to use jealousy to your advantage.

 

2. Make other people feel important. Although this may not help relieve your own stress, it should help you sleep better at night  (which helps with stress!) knowing you helped lower someone else’s stress. Sapolsky noticed baboon alpha males had way less stress than the submissive males. The baboons that were lowest on the totem pole had the highest stress levels in their blood and the highest cholesterol. This was also proven to be true in humans after a 40 year study of the British Civil Service department.
 
I was shocked by the direct association with societal rank and stress in the documentary but not everyone can be alpha males, so how do we solve this problem? The answer is that it’s not so much where you stand in society, but where you feel like you stand. So use the principle from How to Win Friends and Influence People and make others feel important.

 

3. Evaluate your career choice. Does your job require you to have chronic stress, like FAA agents, police officer, fire fighter, etc.? If your job isn’t mandated by chronic stress, what are you or your company doing that causes chronic stress in your life? Just like with the baboons and British Civil Service, the stress levels increased as the rankings decreased. So if the person above you is stressed, do you really want to stay where you are?

 

4. Stop thinking of multi-tasking and hard working as positive traits! My experience working with lots of small businesses over the years has shown me that people feel more important if they feel busy. Like their self worth is defined by how many emails, phone calls and meetings they have. I try to follow God’s lead and set up systems that run themselves instead: ecosystem, the food chain, our bodies- shoot, He even found a way to automate prayer!

5. Join a support group. Find ways that you can connect with people in similar situations. Don’t you think a zebra feels at least a little bit better running from a lion in a herd rather than on his own?

Please share this with anyone in your life that is stressed out a lot.

 

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