Since my return a week ago from my trip to visit my youngest son and his family (with all the catch-up that any travel entails when we return), I've had two deaths in the family and today I have some minor surgery of my own. So I've been a bit stressed lately. The last couple days I found myself pushing even harder to get more done.
Then yesterday I read something about unhelpful thinking and working harder when under stress. I needed to hear this. What I read was that when we're in overwhelm or high stress mode, we tend to use the terms "must" and "should." The article suggested changing to gentler self-talk, using words such as "want" and "choose" that help us feel in charge and maintain perspective. Say you have a project you want to finish while you're in high stress mode. Instead of saying, "I must finish before the day is over," it might be more helpful to say, "I want to get it done today so I can spend some time relaxing with my family this weekend." It lowers the feeling of overwhelm and it invites you to think of a carrot at the end of that stick!
The article also said such thinking styles (must and should) can easily lead us to believe that we can do whatever we want to do (Superwoman rises again!) so we tend to push harder when under stress. Slow down, the article advised. It's what our bodies want when we're in overwhelm. Performance psychologist Jim Loehr says that our bodies and minds work best in sprints rather than marathons. Take some breaks. Connect with others. Connect with yourself. Do some mindfulness practices. Breathe deeply. Hmmm, perhaps it's time for me to listen to that good advice!