Professor Pete Alexander

A seasoned professional with over 30 years of Sales and Marketing experience, Pete has battled the negative effects of stress head-on and has developed the LIGHTEN™ stress relief model that motivates his peers to take action and overcome their self-imposed barriers to success using clever yet simple tools and techniques.
A seasoned professional with over 30 years of Sales and Marketing experience, Pete has battled the negative effects of stress head-on and has developed the LIGHTEN™ stress relief model that motivates his peers to take action and overcome their self-imposed barriers to success using clever yet simple tools and techniques.

Stress Relief Tool – Minimize Expectations

All of us like to get things done, and those of us who are achievement-oriented tend to overdeliver whenever possible. We set very high expectations for ourselves and, in the process, pile on the pressure to provide what we promised. But what happens when we don’t deliver? The real problem is expectation: the stress caused when we think we’ve let others down.

Falling short of expectations causes us unhappiness. And it happens over and over, throughout the day. We are constantly doing this to ourselves. This leads to anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, and/or a lack of trust in ourselves—this is the real damage. It hurts everything we want to do, making it more likely that we just give up, because we have limiting beliefs.

The answer is to hold less tightly to our ideals. Become aware of our own and others’ expectations and give yourself permission to ease up on yourself. Remember, you are only human.

If you failed to deliver, let go of the useless guilt and self-criticism. Instead, see what held you back from meeting your intention. Make a deliberate change in your environment so that it won’t keep holding you back. Set another intention, and don’t cling to it. Repeat, over and over.1

To take it one step further, consider redefining your metrics (how you measure success). Do not choose to measure yourself as a rising star or an undiscovered genius, a tragic victim, or dismal failure. Instead, measure yourself by more mundane identities: a student, a partner, a friend, a creator.2 Minimizing expectations this way allows you to be kind to yourself, reducing your stress in the process.

 

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Meditation

Meditation is a practice of focusing your mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. It is one of the most well-known “calming” activities and has been clinically proven to decrease mood disturbance and stress symptoms in both male and female patients.1

Mindfulness mediation apps, such as The Mindfulness App, HeadSpace and Calm, are becoming more popular and have also shown to be successful in reducing stress.2 Many of the apps have a free introductory program to allow you to test it and see if it works for you before buying.
If you prefer not to rely on technology to help you meditate, follow the simple process below:3

  1. Find a comfortable, quiet spot to meditate. Sit on the floor or in a comfortable chair. Avoid meditating on your bed at first because you’ll be more likely to doze off in the middle of your practice.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to learn how to shut off your brain if you want to meditate. Instead, meditating regularly allows you to have an open dialogue with yourself without judgment and emotional reaction. When you notice your mind wandering, just bring it back into focus.
  3. Inhale to the count of four, then hold your breath for seven beats. Exhale for four more seconds. As you release your breath, feel the air make its way out of your lungs and nose and concentrate on the lightness in your chest. On each inhale and exhale, count for one breath. Repeat as needed.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Unsubscribe to Mailing Lists

There is only so much information we can take in on a daily basis, yet we are exposed to so many messages. Studies show that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day, and that number is growing rapidly. Consumers switch between device screens up to 21 times an hour, and the average person’s attention span is now just eight seconds.1

To reduce the amount of unnecessary information you’re subjected to, take a minute to unsubscribe from newsletters, blogs, podcasts, and marketing emails you’re no longer interested in. This makes it easier to focus on what truly matters and not get stuck in information overload and analysis paralysis.2

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Reframe Failure

Rather than thinking of failure as something negative, consider it part of your education in your future success. When you fail, it just means you tried one way and now it is time to try another way. In other words, failure is just feedback. When you fail, the world is providing you feedback that you need to take a different approach. When you are progressing forward, you will run into obstacles along the way.

When you think of failure instead of feedback, you are listening to your inner critic. We all fail – that’s part of life. How we perceive failure is what separates those who want to reduce their stress and those who will continue to pile it on.

In fact, The Church of Fail actually teaches us to celebrate failures. Attendees step forward in front of an audience and answer three questions about what they failed at. After they present, they then receive a round of applause and are not allowed to step down until the applause has ended. The peculiar feeling that comes from accepting a round of applause, coupled with vulnerability of sharing, leaves a greater mark than if you sat quietly in a room noting you’d made a mistake.

Pretty much everyone who has ever tried anything has cupboards full of botched attempts, rejection letters and memories of being passed over and ignored. Let’s face it, we’ve all failed. Maybe not on a grand scale, but in some way, shape or form, we’ve screwed up.1 So stop stressing and remember you are part of a very large club. In fact, you could even celebrate your failure with others by attending a local F**k Up Night (FUN) in which professionals recount about their worst work screwups.2

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison, American Inventor, 1847 – 1931

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Don’t Try To Control The Uncontrollable

Many things we experience are beyond our control – traffic, the weather, flight delays, the economy, and of course the behavior of other people. If you are a parent, you especially understand that controlling your kids is a challenging and often futile proposition.

Things that are out of your control attract your attention, and by giving those factors your attention you are setting yourself up for stress. Rather than worrying over things beyond your control, why not focus on the things you can control?

A good technique for helping you with this is the 50 percent rule – the mindset that 50 percent of a challenge you can control and 50 percent you cannot. Control only what you can control and be 100 percent responsible for it. By following this rule, you ensure your contribution is effective before allowing any waste of time, energy, or attention on the “other 50 percent” that isn’t within your control. The 50 percent rule puts you in charge.1

This mindset also applies to events in the future that have not happened yet. In other words, you should feel okay about not knowing exactly how things will turn out. Accept the unpredictability of life. Can you imagine how dull life would be if we knew everything that would happen? Think of all that is right with your life, control what you can, and embrace ambiguity in the future unknown.2

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Repeating Mantras

A mantra is a positive word or phrase that you say to yourself (silently or out loud) and is a good way to help you stay focused and calm. This technique requires you to close your eyes, think of something motivating or inspiring and repeat this to yourself whenever you feel like you are losing control.

For example, reminding yourself with the mantra “pick your battles” or that “this too shall pass” can have a relaxing effect in under one minute.

Mantras can be anything meaningful to you. I often like the simple phrase “thank you” that I repeat over and over and over again. This mantra reminds me to have gratitude for what I have, and that whatever is stressing me is not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.

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Stress Relief Tool – Expect A Magnificent Outcome

Each morning, before you start or leave for work, set an intention for what you want to happen. It might be as simple as getting to and from work safely, or having a successful meeting with your coworkers, or passing that test you have scheduled for the day.

It really doesn’t matter what it is – as long as you set the intention as the outcome you want. This puts you in the right frame of mind and reduces your perceived stress about what you have planned for the day.

What works best for me is a daily reminder I set on my phone for 7:00 a.m. every morning. I see the prompt and I take 30 seconds to say out loud what I expect my magnificent outcome for the day to be.

Start tomorrow with your magnificent outcome, and see how that helps you with your stress relief efforts.

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Stress Relief Tool – Remember The Lottery

Stress Relief Tool – Remember The Lottery

This is one of my favorites, and math enthusiasts in particular will get a kick out of this technique. The next time you are stressing about how difficult life is, remember the lottery.

There are about 7 billion people on Earth today and 115 billion people who have ever lived in the history of the world. That means 108 billion people are dead. Most people have already lived their lives (14 out of 15 people will never have the chance to experience the little things in life that makes life worth living). Being alive means you have already won the lottery.

You are also among the wealthiest people in the entire world. The average world income is $5,000 per year. If you are higher than that, you are in the top 50%. And if you are higher than $50,000 per year, you are in the top 0.5%. You already have more than almost everybody on the planet. On your very worst days, you have to push out your negative and limiting beliefs. You have to remember the lottery because you have already won.1

You can remember the lottery for just about anything – having your health, food in the fridge, hair on your head, a roof over you, a car to drive. Any or all of these
are part of a positive perspective that does wonders for your stress relief.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Weekly Reflection

Weekly reflection is a powerful tool for improvement. Use the weekend to contemplate the larger forces that are shaping your industry, your organization, and your job. Without the distractions of Monday to Friday busy work, you should be able to see things in a whole new light.

Use this insight to alter your approach to the coming week, improving the efficiency and efficacy of your work.1

Each weekend block out 15-30 minutes on your calendar where you have some quiet time to reflect on your week ahead. Are there any insights you have that can help improve your performance and/or reduce potential stress? If so, note them down and review them again before you arrive at work

This process gives you a sense of control and thus decreases your stress level.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Change Something

Have you ever felt stuck in your job, relationship or with a particular project? And have you stressed over being stuck, creating a vicious cycle? If you said yes, you are with the vast majority of us.

The good thing is that there is a simple thing you can do to get unstuck. By changing something in your life, you change your energy – often for the better. For example, you can:

  • Change the arrangement of furniture in one room of your home. Pick the living room and reposition your couch and TV and see how it feels.
  • Change the organization of your desk. Maybe move your computer monitor from the right side of your desk to the left, or vice-versa. Replace a picture with a fresh one, put that stack of papers in a filing cabinet out of site, and/or try a seat cushion on your chair that enhances your comfort.
  • Get a new hair style – shorten the length, change the color or curls – whatever makes you happy.
  • Grow or shave your beard – especially if you have a 5:00 pm shadow at 8:00 a.m. like I have. Because I can grow my beard so easily, I like to shave it and grow it back every once in a while, to give me new energy.

By changing something up in your life, you create a new energy that will likely help you get unstuck and provide you with stress relief.

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