Pursue What Matters
Episode 141: Stress is Not the Problem Course Launch
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Are you tired of stress weighing you down? Do you feel overwhelmed when it comes to taking on life’s challenges, setting big goals and taking good care of yourself? Well, if you answered yes to any of those questions, this episode is for you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:38
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love, and work. Boy, stress is a feature of life, isn’t it. But if we’re not careful, stress can start weighing us down. So I want to talk to you today about my own experience with stress. Boy, I’ve got a long history with stress and what has shifted for me because I had a big mindset shift a few years ago, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s made a huge difference in every aspect of my life. And no, I didn’t get to a point to the point where I don’t have any stress. Because what we know is that’s not realistic. But this was a really important mindset shift for me. And as I started learning more about stress, I found that this is a mindset shift that can happen for everyone. There’s nothing unique about me. But I want to share that with you today. Because I think this mindset shift can have a profound impact on our lives for the better. And you don’t have to just take my word for it, there is a lot of very compelling research that supports this. And so today, I hope you’ll join me, as I make the case, that stress is not the problem. And I’m going to be talking about a course that I have just launched, I’m super excited about it, the doors close very soon. So the doors are only open January one through January 15. And then the the the course will not be available. And so if you find something that you hear today that that can be helpful for you, I hope you really will consider taking a look at this course I created it with you in mind. It’s based on solid research. And this is content and material that I use every single day in my work as a leadership coach, and a psychologist, and it has a profound impact on folks for the better. So let’s, let’s jump in and learn a little bit more about this topic. So of course, every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead. I try to do that in one of three areas, clarity, which is leading to purpose, curiosity, which is leading with self awareness and self leadership, and leading and building a community. And we really think about those leadership specific skills. And so primarily today, we’re really going to be focusing on clarity and curiosity. So we’re going to help you connect stress to purpose, which sounds kind of weird, but that is a game changer. And then also leading with curiosity so that you can, you know, the invitation today is for you to have a bit more self awareness about your relationship with stress, we each have a relationship with stress, it’s part of the human condition. And that as you get curious about how stress impacts you, that it can help to kind of shift some thinking and some change in your life. And if the course can be helpful to that end, you know, I would I would consider that a privilege.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:04
So let’s start by talking about the problem, right? If you read anything in the in popular culture, right, if it’s in the popular press, blog, social media, really the message is that stress is the enemy. It you know, there are so many articles about the many health impacts of stress and they’re always negative, they’re always negative. And of course, we have our own experience where you know, when we get weighed down by stress, life gets harder. It makes it more difficult to make decisions and to stay calm in the face of challenges. And not only that, over time when we have a stress build up. It makes us less willing to take on challenges. We’re less likely to set goals, right how many of you with the turn of the new year, are kind of dreading this thought of goal setting, sometimes folks can get really excited about it, and others just want to hide under a rock, because they’re already overwhelmed or the thought of taking on one more thing is just overwhelming. And so that’s, you know, that would be one of those signs that, that we know that there may be a stress pile up, because we’re less willing to take on challenges.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:27
So I want to tell you a little bit about my history, with stress, and the point at which I had my first mindset shift. And that’s what really led me to understanding the research and developing the course that I want to share with you today. And so, you know, I’ve always been a pretty anxious prone person, right from childhood to adulthood, I definitely consider myself a recovering perfectionist, it’s, it’s a challenge that that still plagues me at times. But I remember early in my career, and you know, early in my career was after 11 years of school, because I had had completed doctoral degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling. And so my first, you know, position, my first career move came when I was in my late 20s. And had, you know, married, my partner has a busy career as well had three kids. And I had landed, what I thought was my dream job. And in many ways, it really was my dream job. At that point, I had lots of opportunities to lead, I was doing very meaningful work that I cared about, you know, I tried to work my schedule that, you know, would work would not plow over family life. And there was a pretty good balance there integration. During that time, even though my kiddos were pretty young and had a lot of needs. But over time, the stress got to me, right, I had that stress pile up of, you know, doing very challenging work that was deeply meaningful, but feeling run ragged all the time. Feeling like when I walked in the door at home, I needed to be totally focused on my kids and my family and wanted to be, but the belief I had is that there wasn’t time, you know, for self care that, you know, that was a selfish thing. That was something that, you know, it was a nice luxury, but it didn’t really fit for the life that I was living. And so, you know, as you might imagine, over time, this stress pile up just accumulated more and more, and it got heavier, to carry, it was a pretty heavy burden. And that, you know, I got to a point of, gosh, I’ve got to do something different, like something is not working here. And I did something that a lot of us do. You know, when I found, okay, I’m stuck, I’m overwhelmed. I’m feeling a little helpless feeling a little hopeless. My first look was to external solutions. Okay, so what can I change in my life?
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:25
What can I change about my schedule, my boss, my partner, my kids, whatever, to really help eliminate stress. My goal, really, at that point was to eliminate stress. And I had told myself, right, like, when I get this project done, things will settle down. When I get to the New Year, things will be less busy. And what I found is that wasn’t true. The work just continued to be very compelling, and very demanding. And so I saw that I needed to look at external solutions. And that’s what I looked at. And I’m not saying that that’s wrong, right? A lot of times there can be very practical, external solutions that we do need to look at, whether it’s around commute, whether it’s around our work schedule, whether it is around having tough conversations with others about boundaries, you know, maybe it’s traveling less, maybe it’s, you know, negotiating on time, and on responsibilities at home. And so I’m not saying that external solutions shouldn’t be looked at because they’re a big part of the equation. But when it came to me, I was only looking at external solutions. And I think that’s a mistake many of us make. So with folks I work with, as a psychologist and leadership coach, we often when we face challenges, we we don’t see that there may be solutions internal to us. We’re only looking at external solutions. And of course, that will be incomplete because You know, the equation needs to include both external and internal. And so this was a mistake that I made. And so I started looking at external solutions. And I, I found a few, the big one being my schedule, I decided this schedule is just too demanding. I can’t do it. And I don’t I don’t have to which that, you know, that was a privilege that I had that I didn’t, I wasn’t locked into this demanding schedule, I could have some flexibility, I could create some changes in that schedule. And so that’s what I did, I overhauled my schedule. And I changed a lot about about how I worked and the work that I was doing, so that I could work towards that goal of eliminating stress. And here’s what happened. So first of all, I did have less stress in my life, I didn’t have an absence of stress, for sure. But I had less stress, I was less busy, for sure. I was less busy. But I was also absolutely miserable. And that that outcome really surprised me. And I thought, oh, no, what is going on here. But as I got curious about this experience, because right, like I thought overhauling my schedule was the solution. But when I got curious and looked at that, what I discovered is that I had lost a sense of purpose and connection, two aspects of my work that are deeply meaningful to me. So I love collaborating, I love working on a team. And as a result of those schedule changes, I was more isolated. I was still doing the work one on one, but I was on my own. I wasn’t part of the team nearly as much as I had been. I wasn’t involved in, you know, making decisions about about the path and about big picture, leadership items, which I had been part of. And so I was less busy, I was less stressed. But I was absolutely miserable.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:14
And so I realized in that moment, that maybe the external solutions weren’t the whole answer. And I started really studying up on stress, because I thought I got it, I got to understand this, I can’t keep or hauling my schedule. I’m looking for solutions that don’t seem to be helping. And so what I found, as I studied for myself and tried to figure this out, is that stress, actually is not the problem, right. And that’s the name of the course that I have. available right now is stress is not the problem. And that seems like an odd statement. But I’ve got to tell you, it was a revelation to me, because what I learned as I dug into the research around stress, is that stress cues us to meaning stress cues us to purpose. Stress helps us to know what we care about. If you think about the stressors in your life, the things that you worry about. They’re probably also the things that are most meaningful to you, your relationships, your work, your experiences, and goals that are meaningful to you. And so that was the big first mindset shift for me is that stress points to purpose. And stress does not have to be a problem. And in that moment, that mindset shift also shifted my goals. And so instead of having my goal, to be eliminating stress, I shifted that goal because what I learned as I dug into the research is that as long as you’re breathing, as long as you are a human on this planet, breathing, you will always have stress. As humans, we are hardwired for stress. And so these goals and these magazine articles and these blog posts about shaming you for stress and telling you how to eliminate stress are absolutely wrong headed. Because it is a it is a useless endeavor. We don’t want you actually to eliminate stress, we want you to get better at stress. We want you to learn to cope effectively. And this led to my second mindset shift, which was around internal solutions. I saw when I recognize a stress wasn’t the problem. And you know, maybe my schedule wasn’t the problem. What did I need to take responsibility for internally? What what was tripping me up when it came to stress? And what I learned is that my beliefs my thoughts about stress were actually the main problem because when I, when I stumbled upon these beliefs, it led me always to the conclusion that there was something wrong with me that I can’t hack life, that, you know, I’ll be better off if I could lower my stress. And other people have it figured out. And this is where I came up with the stress myths, which I talked about last week, that our beliefs about stress can actually lead to greater stress, right, we call that stress generation. But when we can shift our beliefs about stress, so this is a big mindset shift, we actually find that stress has protective benefits for us. And that’s exactly what I’m going to be talking about in the course. And I’m so geeky about I’m so excited about it, because it works. And I experienced it in my own life. I’ve worked with so many people who have also been able to experience this big mindset shift. And so as I started looking at internal solutions, I really made my goal instead of eliminating stress, right, which is a garbage goal, I made my goal to get better at stress. So I got really focused on coping skills, I got really focused on self care, I got really focused on challenging the stress Smith’s and seeing that when that stress came up, for me, it was a sign I was connected to purpose, it was a reminder that I really cared about whatever it was I was feeling nervous about. And that that did not need to be a problem. And that absolutely has been a revolution to me a revelation at a revolution to me. And so, you know, at that time, I actually overhauled my schedule again, and I went back to the original schedule I had. And, you know, let me be clear that I did not have less stress. But what I did have was a mindset shift, I, I understood the context of my stress. And this made the stress more manageable. And I also got really clear about my need to show up for myself, in order to cope effectively because we can’t have stress, overwhelm. And that can lead to negative health impacts. But when we are understanding the truth about stress, and when we are coping effectively, stress is is one of the great accelerators of growth and well being.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:45
Okay, so that’s a powerful finding. But it’s very clear in the research. And so that’s what I discovered for myself. It’s what I’ve been helping others discover for themselves. And it’s why I decided to bring this course to you, which is stress is not the problem. This course is only available until January 15. So as you’re thinking about the New Years, you’re thinking about goals and self care and coping. If this course could be helpful for you, I sure hope that you will consider it. So let me tell you a little bit more about the course specifically. And I want to do that in five questions. So I thought about what might you be thinking about as you’re listening to this? And I think the the first question is, why should I consider this course? And I think it’s a really fair question. And so as we consider that question, I want to answer that with five other questions to really help you wrap your hands around what we’re going to be focusing on in this course. So the first question is, why, why this course. And you know, so many of us have a fundamental misunderstanding of stress, and how it impacts health and well being. And here’s the big one, how it can be leveraged for greater well being. And so this course really seeks to correct these misunderstandings that may keep you stuck, and lacking confidence in yourself, which is not good, that does not feel good. This matters, because when you understand the truth about stress, you can actually use stress as a launchpad to greater growth and well being and that’s absolutely true. The research is compelling.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:37
So then, you know, the second question is what like, what do we do in this course. So this is a very targeted course, you can complete it in I think it’s like two hours and 10 minutes, but it’s broken down into very short video lessons. But the course is designed to help you take action without overwhelm. So we want to help you get clear about your relationship, your beliefs about stress, and how these beliefs may be undermining your confidence. We want to teach you the truth about stress, including the role of stress in the human experience, the impact of stress on your body, and how it can be both protective and destructive. And then, of course, the third goal with the course is we want to change your relationship to stress through practical action. So this is not just a theoretical exercise, this course is focused on practical skills that you can develop actions that you can take consistently to protect yourself from stress overload, while harnessing the powerful positive effects of stress in your life.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:48
So another question, Who is this course for? So it will it be helpful for me will it be helpful for the things that you are facing? And so this course really is for anyone who has ever felt burdened by stress, and left feeling as though you can’t cope effectively with the challenges of life. So listen to some of these, some of these descriptors, this course can help you if you’re an individual struggling to prioritize self care and stress management. Maybe you’re a leader who feels like you’re barely holding it together. Maybe you’re an executive trying to prioritize competing demands, maybe you are a mother, struggling to balance the demands of home and work, maybe you’re a father struggling to balance the demands of home and work. Maybe you’re wondering if you have what it takes to be successful. Maybe you feel stuck in a rut, in your career, in your life, in your relationships. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the challenges of big goals, the challenges of starting and growing a business or perhaps you’re considering a job or career change, perhaps you’re considering transitioning into the marketplace. Maybe you’ve been at home and you’re considering moving in to the career market.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:12
So some of the common experiences with stress overload include, I think, first and foremost, self doubt. It’s such a plague, imposter syndrome, feeling like you don’t belong in a room, a lack of confidence, overwhelm, a lack of self efficacy, which is the belief in your ability to be successful. Maybe you fear failure, maybe you’re hesitant to work towards big goals, right? Like, what’s the point, I don’t want to put myself out there. Maybe you have difficulty making decisions, maybe you’re feeling pretty burned out, or you feel a loss of meaning and connection in your life. Maybe you’re experiencing the physical health effects of stress overload, they are real, and they can they can be very harmful for us. And so when you start to experience the physical health effects of stress, you know, you’re overloaded. Maybe you have difficulty coping with life’s challenges, you’re okay until you hit a bump in the road. And then all bets are off. Maybe you recognize that you’re playing it safe, that you have a low risk tolerance. Maybe you’re struggling with perfectionism, which can be paralyzing. And maybe you just don’t have good coping skills to help you right, like coping skills aren’t a given, they’re not something that we just inherently recognize necessarily. They are practice skills that we need to learn, we need to practice we need to develop over time. And maybe you, you know, you’d like to advance professionally, but you find yourself holding back from applying for stretch positions. Maybe you’re failing to advance professionally or personally. Maybe you have anxiety, or depressive symptoms, such as hopelessness, and dread. So these are very common experiences of stress overload. And if any of these sound familiar, this course can help you this course is for you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:20
So the next question is how how do you complete the course. So as I mentioned, the course is only available until January 15. So I will have a link in the show notes. So you can learn more about the course and decide if this is something that you’re interested in doing. It’s not it’s not going to cost you much money. It’s not going to cost you much time. I recognize right that you’re already potentially feeling overwhelmed. The last thing I want to do is pile on more stress pile on more guilt or obligation and so the course He is absolutely designed to be flexible and fit into the life you live today with all of your current stressors, and demands. And so you can you complete the course on your own time. And at your own pace. In as little as two, I think it’s two hours and 10 minutes.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:18
So it’s brief, the video based lessons are short, they help you get in there, learn and apply. And so the lessons really help you to create a new understanding, not only of stress, but also of yourself. I also have a course workbook that is designed to help you integrate and apply what you’re learning so that you know what you’re learning actually translates into real world change, we have to have both if we’re going to be effective. And so you know, I want you to use the course book as you go through the video lessons, because I’m going to prompt you with some questions, I want you to get curious about your experience. Because when we can quiet ourselves and get curious about our own experience, we lead ourselves and others better as a result. And so the course is designed to be very flexible.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:15
Okay. And then the last question, so when, when do I do this. So as I said, you can do it in small snatches of time. So I think the shortest video lesson is like three or four minutes, and then the longest is maybe about 15 minutes. So you can do them on your own time, you can do them on your phone, you can do them on your laptop, you can do at home, you can do them at work. And this course, will only be available until January 15. And so this is the perfect tool to help you thrive in the year ahead. And that’s exactly what it is designed for. Because this is what I know, you are meant to lead, you are meant to move towards purpose and to fulfill potential. And in order to do that, right, that is a that’s a that can be a challenging journey, we’re climbing a mountain. In order to do that, you’ve got to have some skills, you’ve got to have some tools to help you on your journey. And that’s what this course really is designed to do to help you to create a mindset shift, to be able to challenge the stress myths to understand the truth about stress. And to get very practical to have some very good skills that you can and will use, right, they’re not there, they’re not that difficult at all. That can be a resource to you, as you take on challenges, recognizing that stress can harness your growth and be one of the biggest, biggest factors when it comes to increasing your well being.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:52
So I sure hope you will consider how this course may be helpful for you, or someone you love. And so you can find out more about the course by heading over to my website to the show notes and I will have a link to the course. And that is that www.drmelissasmith.com/141-courselaunch/. So one more time that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/141-courselaunch/. You can also find me on Instagram @dr.melissasmith. I’ve got some good information there about the course and about me if you want to find out a little bit more about me. And in the meantime, I hope that your new year is off to a happy and healthy start. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care
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