Mental Stress affects all of us at one point in our life. We find ourselves in a situation where we feel that we cannot move forward because of the overwhelming amount of thoughts, actions and goals we are trying to focus on. In this blog I want to share with you a metaphor to rethink mental stress.
Your Mind Operates Like a Computer
I want to use a metaphor to make you rethink and understand the problem that causes most of us to have mental stress. Think about your computer for a second. Have you ever had the situation where your computer has frozen because you have so many different apps or tasks open, or you are trying to download something? You are left with that little spinning wheel of death, showing it is loading but not actually taking you anywhere. The CPU is overloaded, and this is most of the time what also happens with us humans when we have mental stress.
The neuroscience shows that attention and consciousness can actually be split. Think of attention like the RAM of the computer, dictating how much you can actually handle. When you have all these extra little things going on you are constantly trying to hold on to them and switch between each one, which eventually leaves you incapable of doing anything at all because of the stress it inflicts.
Imagine you have 100 units of computing power…
The video you are trying to download, which could be the equivalent of a project you are trying to handle, takes up 60 of those units because let’s face it, projects take up a lot of our time. Imagine then that you have 5 other little actions that you know you need to do which takes 10 units each. You may also have 5 or 6 little ones that just takes one of those units each. If you are any good at maths, you will by now have realised that you have exceed those 100 units that your brains RAM could handle. You are stuck and you can’t process anything, because you are taking so much time looking after all these other tasks.
So what do you do when your computer shows that little spinning wheel of death? You either close it down or you start closing down tasks, one by one to increase the space and capacity of your computer. The problem a lot of people today have is called “open loops”. It’s these little things we know we have to do at some point, and we keep having to remember them, but the act of remembering them at times when we can’t do anything about them takes away brainpower from focusing on things we could know we need to do. If we could just close down some of those extra little tasks, the same way we close down tasks on a computer, then we could reduce mental stress significantly, and avoid health issues and all sorts of other issues that can arise from stress.
5 Levels of Mental Stress – Where Are You?
If we can close those open loops in our minds, so that they are not causing 10 % of the CPU being used up in your brain, but perhaps reducing it to 1%, then maybe we can get you moving forward again. The 5 levels of mental stress manifests as follows:
Level 1 – Distraction: At this Level everything is a bit fuzzy in your head, you are not really clear on what it all is, you are just distracted. You’ve got this vague sense of wanting to do a specific thing one day, like starting your own business for instance, but you have no plan and no idea of how it would happen. It pops into your head now and again, but fundamentally you don’t have an actual plan of how to get started. It’s not really doing anything for your current situation.
Level 2 – Diversion: At this level you are more clear on what you need to do. You know you need to pay that bill, build that website etc. You may be clear on your goal or action, but it’s still in your head, so every now and then your brain has to loop back and remind you of it, all while you should be doing something else or you may already be in the middle of something else. You might not be able to build you website, or whatever action you are thinking about right there, so it’s just diverting your attention elsewhere. It’s not a complete distraction like on Level 1 though, as it’s still something important that you have to do at one point, just not right at this very moment.
Level 3 – Doubtful: This is the first step of getting it all out of your head. This is where a lot of people are doing goalsetting but in a very fuzzy manner. You are back to being fuzzy, like in Level 1, but at least it is out of your head, you are putting it down on paper or in an app. It might be something like a written goal about starting your own business and you have put the paper in a notebook somewhere. But it’s not clear enough yet, you don’t really have an action plan of how you are going to achieve it. At this level we are talking about goals like “Be Happy” or “Make more money”, goals that are not specific and measureable as they don’t have a plan of action behind them. You are doubtful at this stage that you are ever going to achieve that. So it’s not really distracting you or diverting your attention – but it’s also not moving you forward. But at least you have taken the step of getting it out of your head.
Level 4 – Designed: At this stage you have a clear goal and clear actions of what you need to do. You design what is going to happen and make proactive progress and you can go back and check what you have to do in order to move forward when you need to, having something to refer back to.
Level 5 – Deliberate: Not only is it out of your head and clear to you, but it’s also organised, accessible and helpful. You have a clear sense of what the goal is and what your actions are to get you there. If you just have this random list of some goals or some actions, it’s not clear enough and doesn’t reduce the mental stress as much. It needs to be clear distinct lines of what the big project is and what the little chunks are, as well as what little chunks you can get rid of to free up more space and reduce stress.
3 Steps to Go Up A Level
Since we obviously want to move you up the levels as quickly as possible at Stryv, I want to share with you 3 Steps and some exercises to get you there. We call them:
I did this exercise myself when I was incredibly stressed, just so you can see how I do it. I personally use the Stryv App, but you can also use a pen and paper for these exercises.
The first thing we need to do is get a place to get all of these thoughts and ideas out, somewhere we can do a mental download. Our brain needs it in order to operate, as there are too many open loops and mental overload happening. When this happens to me I use the Stryv App to create a new goal – in this case called Mental Download. You can just write this down on a piece of paper too.
The first action I would enter under my goal in the app or on my piece of paper is “to scribble down everything I think is on my mind at the moment”, in order to get it all out there. Personally I would need to put in actions such as creating frameworks for the mental download for you and creating a podcast. I then put the Goal of Mental Download at the top of my list of goals, because it is what I want to focus on in order to move forward overall and not feel so stuck. The goals of creating frameworks for you and creating a podcast is actually a part of another goal of mine which is reaching 10,000 subscribers on YouTube, so I will go into the app and connect those actions to this goal in order to keep it organised.
Going into the different task on the app or on paper, you can start looking at each individual one and see if it is something you can delegate or do yourself, or if it is something that is definitely related to work versus personal life, and essentially categorise them. Taking them out from you brain and putting them down on paper or in the app, knowing you can access them later is really valuable.
Actions to Reduce Mental Stress
When you have completed your list and chunked it into different areas, you have to actually complete some of the things too. You have already reduce some aspects of the effort that is being used to remember all those things, but you still want to get rid of some of the things completely. These are the 6 Steps to do that.
- Delete: Can you do this now or not? If you can’t, then can you delete it? You might realise that actually it’s not something too important and you don’t have to spend more mental energy on that.
- Document: Can you document it? Maybe you can’t do this right now. You might have come across a really good article that you feel could be good for your business 6 months from now. You can use something like Evernote or the Stryv App to capture it and come back to it when you actually need to.
- Delay: Can you just delay it? Does it have to be done now? Can you circulate back to it in the future? I wouldn’t recommend this as much without putting a date on it, but at least you have captured it and got it out of your head freeing up more space for you to focus on more important things.
- Do: If you can take action on it and it takes less than 2 minutes then do it now. It will feel SO good to get rid of it. This same rule applies to when you are going through your inbox. If it takes less than two minutes – just do it now. It’s one of the most key pillars of productivity management.
- Delegate: Can you do it and is it worth your time? This is key if you want to increase how much you are earning and the lifestyle and freedom that you have. You have to move towards doing the more important tasks that needs doing and delegate the ones that aren’t as high in value to others.
- Diarise: You want to either do it, delegate it or diarise it. At step 6 you want to get it in your diary and schedule it so that you know when you are going to do it. That’s why the Stryv App is really useful because it makes it really easy to capture everything, chunking it into goals. If you haven’t yet diarised it, everything shows up in the unplanned section at the bottom and can quickly be scheduled into the section of your diary where you want to do it.
Those are the 6 steps that should reduce your mental stress a lot, freeing you up to do the things you truly need to in order to move forward. Now you have clear defined areas and goals you are after, the actions you have to take within them – and you can access them whenever you need to without having to go around in your brain for them. It’s also easy to schedule them in your diary, complete or delete them.
I do hope you enjoyed this blog and if you do decide to follow many other Stryvers who have completed this 5-minute challenge previously, please leave a comment about how it went and what you managed to get rid of!
In today’s episode on how to reduce mental stress, I’m going to share with you a metaphor of how to rethink mental stress. I’m going to share the five levels of reducing mental stress, a three step exercise to reduce mental stress, and the six actions you take in. Step three of that exercise to completely eliminate mental stress and less than five minutes, so stick around until the end of the video.
Welcome to the Achieve Anything show brought to you by Stryv, and today’s host, Zander, Woodford Smith.
Welcome, welcome. Welcome to today’s episode of the achieve anything show on how to reduce mental stress has not waste any time. Let’s get right into the content. So first of all, want to talk about a metaphor to have you rethink and understand the problem that’s causing mental stress. So I want you to think about your computer for a second. Have you ever had the situation where your computer has frozen and it’s frozen because you’ve got so many different apps and tasks and other things open and running a, maybe you’re trying to download music or listen to music and you’re trying to edit a video and do something else and it just freaks out and you see that light spinning wheel of death on a Mac or I don’t know what it does on a windows anymore. Maybe it just explodes, but the thing that is going on is the CPU.
The central part is just overloaded with too much stuff and this is most of the time what’s causing mental stress for people? So the neuroscience shows that attention and consciousness can actually be split. So if you think about attention as kind of the ram of the computer, about how many things you can handle when you’ve got all these things going on in these extra little things, you’re constantly trying to hold onto them and switch between each one. So there’s no way you can function and it just causes this stress. Just like a computer. So imagine you had 100 units of like computing power and your video that you were trying to download like the, and this could be the equivalent of a big project you’re trying to make in your life that’s takes 60 units of that power, but then you’ve got five actions, little tiny ones that take 10 in each, you know, or maybe it’s, you know, you’ve got four for that tape, 10 and you’ve got five or six that just take one or two, but that puts you over the 100 limits.
All of a sudden you’re just stuck and you can’t process anything because you’re taking so much time looking after all these other tasks. So what do you do when your computer freezes in that fashion? Well, if you can, yeah, they have to shut it down or you start trying to close tasks and if you close tasks, it gives enough space for you to then focus on the main thing and recover. So the problem a lot of people have that’s creating mental stress is what’s called open loops. It’s these little things that we know we have to do. At some point, and we keep having to remember them, but the Act of remembering them at times where we can’t work on them or do anything takes away brainpower from focusing on things that we actually could be working on could be focused on and we get so jammed up.
Whereas if we could just get rid of a few of those, it would completely free us up to do the big things and be clear on what we want and get rid of the mental stress which causes all kinds of problems for health and other issues. So let’s get onto the five levels of reducing mental stress. So closing those loops, kind of refining how much effort they’re causing because if we can get rid of, you know, so they’re not causing you 10 percent of the CPU being used up in your brain. If we can reduce that down to one percent, you might be able to get going again. So here’s the first thing. First level is it’s just fuzzy in your head. You’re not really clear on what it is and it’s just a distraction. You don’t rake. You just got this vague sense of like, oh yeah, I think I want to do that one day, maybe I want to start my own business, or maybe I want to do this and it’s so fuzzy and you have no idea what the plan would be that it’s just a distraction.
It pops into your head every now and again so that you’re not really focused on other things. You don’t have a definite plan of how you’re going to do it and it just distracts you. So that’s level one where it’s not really doing anything for you. It’s fuzzy and it’s just in your head floating around and it just pops in whenever you want. Then the second level is actually a diversion where you’re more clear on what it is you’ve got to do. So maybe it’s like, okay, well I’ve got to pay that bill, I’ve got to build a website, I’ve got to do that, and so you’re clear, but it’s still in your head. So every now and again, you know your brain is having to loop back to that and go, Oh, don’t forget you’ve got to build the website. Oh, don’t forget you got to pay that bill book, don’t forget you’ve got to do that when you shouldn’t be doing something else and you’re in the middle of something else where you might not be able to build the website right there.
You might not be able to take whatever action you need to take. So it’s just diverting your progress away. So it’s not a complete distraction as level one is because you still have to do it at some point, you know it’s important and you clear what it is. So that’s how it’s different from level one is it’s clear what the actions are, but it’s still in your head. So it’s diverting your attention away from what you actually need. So then level three, is this a first step where you’re getting it out of your head? Now this is where a lot of people do goal setting, but they do it in a very fuzzy manner. So you’ve gone back to being fuzzy, but at least it’s out of your hat. So it’s almost like downloading it to a hard drive. So maybe it’s this vague, you know, written goal of like, Oh start business one day and you’ve put it in a notebook somewhere and so you don’t have to think about it as much because you know it’s captured there, but it’s not really that clear, you know, or be happy or make more money when you don’t really have a clear action plan of what you’re gonna do.
So that’s level three and it was doubtful. Level three is doubtful that you’re ever going to achieve that. So it’s not really distracting you or diverting you as much because you don’t have to think about it because it’s over there, you know, you can access it when you need to, but it’s doubtful. Do you ever really going to achieve that because it’s so fuzzy, but at least you’ve taken the step of getting out of your head. The next step, level four is it’s actually designed so you’ve got a clear goal, you’ve got the clear actions of what you need and you know what you need to do. So you designed what it is that’s going to happen. So now you’re actually making proactive. You know, progress, you can go back to wherever you’re keeping it in a notebook or an APP and we’ll get to that, how you do that in a second and you’re much clearer on what it is you’ve got to do, but that’s still not the absolute best.
The absolute best is level five where you’re being really deliberate. So not only is it out of your head, is it clear what it is, but it’s also accessible and organized when it’s helpful so you’ll have a clear sense of, okay, this is the goal, these are the actions and these are when you know, I can see what actions going to take or I’m going to see what goals have got to do. If you just have this random list, that summer goals, some interactions, some of this you just, it was not as clear as you could be. It doesn’t reduce the mental stress as much. It needs to have clear, distinct lines of where you know, what is the big project, what are the little chunks, and then what little chunks can I get into the direct? So those are the five levels. So Level one distraction level to diversion level three doubtful level for designed and that will five deliberate and so you want to move things up the level as much as possible.
So now we’re going to go into an exercise and then I’m going to share with you the three levels in order to do that. So it’s going to be captured chunk and complete. And I actually shot this video yesterday when I was feeling stressed and show you how I do it. I own pen and paper using the new APP. So first thing I’m going to do is I just need a place to get these things out. So we need a mentor download because there’s too many things the brain is trying to operate on and says too many open loops things that’s just jumping from task to task. So I’m to create a new goal in the APP. So you might write something at the top of your paper. I’m just going to put mental download for now and I’m going to use the fast track feature.
The fast action add just to scribble down. If you’re using pen and paper, all the things that you think are on your mind at the moment because there’s different levels of thinking about stuff. So this is one of the things I’m actually gonna reshoot part of the video because one of the first things I want to do is create a framework for open looped for you. So that’s one of the first things I’ve got to do. That’s one of the things on my mind that I’m having to keep track of that I can’t focus on other things. So framework for open loops, podcast episode. I need to update, um, log with article. So I’m going to just list out all these tasks right now really quickly now I’ve listed are everything I think of for now. Just doing it really quickly. I’m just going to save this so I can see it all in a list here.
So now got everything captured in my mental download one, and I’m actually just going to put this at the top of my list for right now because it’s what I want to focus on so that I can reduce this stress. So now I’ve got out of the top of my list, not only to set a date yet because these are all different things. So here’s the next step. So now I’m starting to understand where it needs to be. So if we go back to the framework that I haven’t yet actually created for you because that’s one of my things to do is I can’t delegate this one. This is something that I need to do, but this is actually part of the goal to build up how many, you know, youtube subscribers we’ve got. So I’m going to put it in this and now it’s organized so now I can get to it when I need to get to it.
Same with the podcast episode. So I’m just going to organize these things into the places where I think I need them. So per household household fees, that’s just something different. So it really, it doesn’t have to be part of the mental download a more. This can go in a different area of just, you know, things that I need to think about for myself and so I’m starting to get rid of these. But even if I didn’t go as far as that, just taking them out from your brain and putting them there and knowing you can access them later is really valuable. No, you’ve captured your list. You’ve chunked it into the different areas. Now you need to actually complete something so at least you’ll have reduced some aspects of the effort that has been used to remember all these things because you’ve got it out of your head and you’ve got it clear, but you actually want to complete some things.
Actually get rid of the task completely. So this is how you do that. These are the six steps to doing that. So first of all is whether you can do it or you can’t do it right now. So if you can’t do it right now, then the things that you want to do is can you delete it? First of all, if there’s no action that can be taken right now, can you just get it off the list and realize that I don’t need to spend any more mental energy on that. Second is can you document it so maybe you can’t do anything right now? Do you need to save this for later? Maybe you come across a website article that’s really good, but it’s going to be good for your business six months from now. Can you use something like evernote or the strive app to capture it and go back to it when you actually need to?
Or do you need to just delay it is. It’s not something you can really do right now and you’ll just circulate back to it in the future so you’ve captured it somewhere, but you’re not going to do set a date for it or something like that is you’re just going to delay on it. Now, I wouldn’t recommend this as much, but at least you’ve captured it and got it out your head so you’ve reduced it as much as possible. Whereas if you can take action on it, then these are the things you want to do. If it takes less than two minutes, just do it right now. It will feel so good to get rid of it and is. This is a rule when you’re going through your inbox. If it takes us in two minutes, just complete it right there. It’s one of the most keystone things of productivity.
Management is doing that. Then you want to delegate it. Can you do you have to do it? Is it worth your time? And this is key. If you want to increase how much you’re earning and the lifestyle of freedom you have is you got to move towards doing more important tasks and delegate the ones away that on your highest value time, using your time, the most valuable so you want to do it. If it’s less than two minutes, you want to delegate it or you want to diarize it. You want to get it in your diary and scheduling of when you’re going to do it and that’s why the strive app is really useful because it makes it really easy to do that. I’m capturing everything, chunking it into the goals, and then if you haven’t yet diarized it, everything shows up and they the unplanned section at the bottom and you can quickly click it into the different dates that you’re going to do it, so those are the six steps and that should reduce your mental stress by a lot and free you up to be actually focused on the big things that you want to do because now you’ve got clearly defined areas and goals that you’re after, the actions you’ve got to take within them.
You can access these when you need to without them letting going round in your brain and it’s easy to get them into your diary, complete them or delegate them, so I hope that was useful in helping you to reduce your mental stress. Leave me a comment below about how this helped you and the things you managed to get rid of that you didn’t realize before, and then make sure you subscribe and tune into next week’s episode. Until then, keep striving.
Thank you for listening to the achieve anything show brought to you by these short visits. Drivers Dot Com to join the conversation, access show notes, and discover other fantastic bonus content that’s only available on the website.