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How to Stop Feeling So Stressed

Life is frenetic and most of us seem to be juggling too much, both at work and at home. Some people cope so much better than others though and that may be because of the way they see the world and approach challenges.

If you’re someone who gets knocked back and still gets up with a smile and says “Bring it on! Let’s sort this out! This is FUN!” you’ve probably got a growth mindset.

If you’re knocked off your feet and it‘s all too much, you may have a fixed mindset.

Academic Carol Dwek defined mindsets as follows: In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.

People with a growth mindset weather the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (thank you Hamlet) far more successfully than those with a fixed mindset. Some people are born with a growth mindset, but if you’re not, the good news is that you can – if you wish – develop it.

I’m writing this blog because as an HR consultant, all I ever seem to hear from people is how stressed and miserable they are. And yet, all too often they are not takin any basic steps to help themselves. Yup, life sucks sometimes even for the luckiest people, but there’s so much you can do to help yourself. I advise my client employers to do what they can to encourage their employees to cope with stress and reduce their vulnerability by adopting a growth mindset.

Here are some tips to help you develop yourself and your team.

By focusing on the processes and the effort made that allows people to be successful, you give them a template they can reproduce.

Telling people to try harder isn't enough to promote a growth mindset. Try asking questions, such as, 'what could I do differently?'. This helps to avoid the trap of working hard but repeating the same mistakes.

Some forty years ago, a study was made of how American primary school pupils viewed a forthcoming test. Some viewed it as a chance to test how much they have learnt (task orientation). Others viewed it as an opportunity to compare themselves against their classmates (ego-orientation). Task orientation has since been associated with better motivation, confidence, self-regulation, academic performance and reduced anxiety. Where possible, try to foster a mindset that is focused on learning, development and improvement, and not just on outdoing someone else.

Those with a growth mindset look for and value feedback more than those with a fixed mindset. It may be that those with a growth mindset see new events as an opportunity to learn new things, develop and challenge themselves; whereas, those with a fixed mindset see them as a test (and therefore judgement) against their ability.

Persistence is another characteristic of growth mindset. The ability to keep going and overcome setbacks is a key life skill. Many Olympic athletes have developed this skill, and they attribute it as an essential part of their success. Research indicates that those with a growth mindset will persist for longer.

Mistakes are just a route to learning. Don’t fear them. But people with a fixed mindset equate making mistakes with having low levels of ability. This can lead to people playing it too safe for fear of looking bad. Over time, this leads to worse performance. Mistakes happen and they are inevitable. Encouraging someone to choose difficult tasks and stretch themselves, helps develop their mindset. This growth mindset could help develop a sense of courage and curiosity, both important life skills.

I’m a great believer in taking proactive steps to help yourself get through this world as well as you can. And with a growth mindset you’ll be well on your way.

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2019 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.

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