By Dr. Joel & Michelle Levey
for Darwin Magazine

Here are a seven strategies, drawn from our work with peak performers in sports, business, medicine, and the U.S. Army Special Forces to help you increase your stress resilience, enhance your vitality and performance, and thrive personally and professionally.

  1. Remember that you can only “manage the moment,” so practice “mindful communications.” Develop your capacity to stay focused with whomever you are talking with. When your mind wanders, be disciplined and refocus your attention to be mindful both of your internal personal experience and of what you notice as you attend to whom you are talking with.

  2. Remember, stress is not a problem if you don’t let it accumulate. The basics are essential: aat when you are hungry; drink water when you are thirsty; urinate when you need to; and rest when you are tired; and exercise at least three times a week for 20 minutes. If you aren’t attending to these basic needs don’t kid yourself with delusions of personal mastery and peak performance because the stress will accumulate over time and undermine your health.

  3. WHOA! Frequently throughout the day pause for a moment to take a deep breath and center yourself. In those moments bring your life into focus by asking yourself: “What am I noticing, feeling, thinking, wanting, and willing to do in this moment?” Move on with clarity!

  4. Allow each breath to help you to focus (with the inhalation) … and to flow (with the exhalation.) Let this help you to find clarity in the midst of confusion, and steadiness amidst the turbulence of the day.

  5. Live and work “on purpose. ” Discover and stay true to a purpose truly worth living.

  6. Be intentionally more kind — to yourself and others. Notice how much less stress that leaves you with.

  7. Remember, that “maximal is not optimal.” Keep tuning yourself for optimal performance finding “the zone” that lies between burnout (too much challenge) and rustout (too little meaningful challenge.) Apply your learning to help your whole team to work in the Zone.

Adapted from the Leveys’ books: Living in Balance (Conari Press, 1998) Wisdom at Work (Conari Press, 1999) and from wisdomatwork.com.

Dr. Joel & Michelle Levey are Chairperson of the Center for Corporate Culture and Organizational Health at the Institute for Health & Productivity Management. They are founders of InnerWork Technologies, Inc., a Seattle based firm that specializes in the developing inspired leadership, high performance team work, and organizational renewal.