I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between earthquakes and stress. Here is how I think they are similar and also some insights on how to manage stress.
Note: The epicenter of stress is your mind and the aftershocks is what the body feels.
Similarities between Earthquakes & Stress
Both involve a bottle up of energy and a release in sudden bursts
Earthquakes are usually caused when the earth suddenly breaks along a fault where tectonic plates meet. This sudden release of energy causes seismic waves that make the ground shake. Similarly when you don’t share your opinions and thoughts at work and stand up for yourself in a polite way you end up bottling up all those feelings. You come across as passive aggressive, defensive and angry. Ever been around someone who makes you feel like you are walking on eggshells since you have no idea what you are going to get from them? The ones that go off without warning? See the similarity?
2. Both cause unimaginable collateral damage
When an earthquake happens it could cause landslides, tsunamis, flooding, liquefaction, ground shaking, fire hazards, mass destruction and death. Stress is similar. Stress affects your body, your mood and your behavior. It’s not uncommon to have headaches, chest pains, stomach upsets, and changes in sexdrive causing you to feel restless, overwhelemed, irritable. This is turn affects your behavior. You have angry outbursts and form unhealthy dependencies ( caffeine, alcohol, drugs etc) and go through social withdrawal when we you are stressed. In fact, chronic stress is one of the 6 leading cause of death!
3. Both are inevitable - but you can manage your response and lessen it’s impact on you.
Regardless of everything - earthquakes will continue to happen and so will stress. As soon as you sense stress coming on here is what to do.
If a real earthquake happens you drop, cover and hold until it passes.
When you sense a stress building up- go to your stability zone!
A stability zone is a concept introduced by Toffler. Stability Zones are places or things that make you feel safe, relaxed, and secure. Stability Zones act like a buffer. Stability zone is similar to the table you would cover under during a real earthquake. It acts as a shield. When you are in or with your Stability Zone, you feel safe. A stability zone could be a place, people, object or even ideas.
Place: Your office / cubicle, your home, your car. Think of a place that has some permanence. , When there is chaos around you - your mind requires that one place that is familiar , peaceful and safe.
People: It could be your spouse, family, or close friend with whom you are not afraid to let your guard down. A safe place where you have no obligations.
Object: In today's workplaces, not very many people have offices and cubes are also shared. In that case a photo frame with you family photo, your child’s photo or your dog’s photo could be a stability zone. Any object that reminds you that you can make it through any situation - that reminds of of who you truly are. Remember you are much more than what stress brings out in you.
Idea: The world is not going to end if things aren’t ok. Never trade your authenticity for anyone’s approval. Every failure is an opportunity.