You’ve heard the news…
A few weeks ago, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) bit the dust — making it the biggest US bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis.
Obviously, this has got investors and entrepreneurs around the country in a complete panic.
And for the rest of us, we’re thinking, “What the heck is going on?!”
What even caused this total meltdown?
What does this mean for the rest of the economy?
And perhaps most importantly, what does the Fed’s response mean for my future finances?
Alright, so I’m not exactly an expert on complicated economic systems, as you may already be aware. But when it comes to reaching your highest potential and dealing with stress, well, that’s something I can definitely chat about.
Before I do, I want to talk about a few things I read about the situation from an NPR article entitled, “What to know about the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, takeover and fallout.”
This article was all about how SVB went and dumped billions of dollars into long-term U.S. Treasury bonds. Now, these bonds are usually seen as a safe bet. But here’s the deal: they only pay out in full if you hold onto them until they mature. And the real kicker? If interest rates go up, the bonds can decrease in value—guess what? That’s exactly what went down.
No big deal until the whole tech sector started going south and companies began taking their deposits out of the bank.
To cover those withdrawals, SVB had to sell some of its bond holdings at a heavy loss. Then this news freaked out the bank’s clients who took even more money out of the bank.
Now I’ve never heard of Silicon Valley Bank before. I bank with Chase. But I do get the idea that if every one of Chase’s clients took their money out all at once, it would go out of business.
But it gets worse. Other banks that had similar risk profiles saw their stock prices drop too. so everyone got worried that people would freak out and want to take their money out of the bank.
In a note released last week, bank analysts at Morgan Stanley stated that SVB’s difficulties “are highly idiosyncratic and should not be viewed as a read-across to other regional banks.” They added, “We want to be very clear here: we do not believe there is a liquidity crunch facing the banking industry.”
Wells Fargo analyst Shaw also noted that other banks were hit by panic selling. “It’s really just a fear that has gripped the market, and is sort of self-perpetuating at this point,” he said.
Ok, so maybe you’re a bit of an expert on the economy, markets, etc. and you understand this stuff well.
But what I do understand is stress and peak performance. I also understand how stress leads to changes in our thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a lack of stress can lead to poor physical and mental performance. However, too much stress can crush our ability to perform well in our lives. Instead of excelling in our business, we make suboptimal decisions, struggle to creatively solve problems, and don’t lead our teams as effectively.
When our brains get stressed because of negative news, poor sleep, toxic relationships, or other factors, we start to lose control. We become more fear-based and survival-oriented in our thoughts, actions, and behaviors.
The graphic below gives you a visual on what happens.
What does this look like?
You know how it goes. Sometimes you feel like having a drink or two (or 5), skip your workouts, stay up later than you should and indulge in some high-calorie food. And hey, let’s be real, you might even try to justify it with some BS logic that really just stems from fear.
Okay, so let me tell you something. When you’re feeling the heat, that’s when you can really shine. You can come up with all sorts of fresh ideas and tackle any problem like a boss, whether it’s at work or just dealing with your own stuff. You’ve got what it takes to be the rock everyone can rely on.
Fortunately, that’s one question I can answer––and arguably, it’s the most important question to ask right now:
How do I sustain focus and productivity during times of chaos and uncertainty?
Because your ability to navigate uncertainty effectively hinges on your ability to focus.
If you fall prey to fear-mongering and doom-scrolling, failure is guaranteed.
To increase your chances of success, regardless of external conditions, focus your attention on what you can control.
Here are 5 ways to boost your performance and become more resilient to stress:
Exercise is a powerful tool for lowering stress levels.
Here’s how it works:
First, when you exercise, your bodies releases feel-good hormones like endorphins, endocannabanoids, and dopamine. These chemicals are what gives you the “runner’s high” feeling .
Besides the the euphoria-inducing brain chemicals, exercise increases blood flow to our brain, which can help improve cognitive function and reduce the impact of stress on our brains.
Exercise has also been shown to reduce the number of stress hormone receptors in the hippocampus. This is a part of your brain that plays a critical role in regulating our stress response. By reducing these receptors, exercise can help reduce the impact of stress hormones on our brains, which can lead to lower levels of stress and anxiety.
There’s another powerful benefit worth mentioning. Exercise has been shown to increase levels of a molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is critical for the growth and maintenance of our brain cells—including those involved in learning, memory, and cognitive function. By increasing BDNF levels, exercise can help improve brain health and resilience to stress.
By increasing blood flow to our brain, reducing stress hormone receptors, and increasing BDNF levels, exercise can help us feel more relaxed, focused, and energized, and better able to handle the challenges that come our way.
Getting good quality sleep can have a significant impact on lowering stress levels.
When we sleep, our bodies go through a series of important processes that help repair and rejuvenate our cells and tissues. This includes processes that regulate our hormones, including stress hormones like cortisol.
When we don’t get enough good quality sleep, our cortisol levels can become imbalanced, leading to an increase in stress and anxiety. This can also lead to a decrease in our ability to cope with stressors and handle challenging situations.
In contrast, when we get enough good quality sleep, our bodies are able to regulate our cortisol levels more effectively. This can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and improve our ability to cope with stressors.
Getting good quality sleep also helps improve our overall physical and mental health, which can make us more resilient to stress. When we feel rested and refreshed, we are better able to handle the challenges that come our way.
So, if you’re feeling stressed out, one of the best things you can do is prioritize good quality sleep. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and make sure you’re creating a sleep environment that is cool, dark, and quiet. By taking care of your sleep, you can help lower your stress levels and improve your overall well-being.
Scheduled deep work
Engaging in deep work can lower your stress levels. Deep work is defined as focused, uninterrupted work that requires cognitive effort.
When you’re working deeply on a task, you’re completely absorbed in what you’re doing. This can help you get into a flow state, which is a state of complete focus and immersion in the task at hand.
When you’re in a flow state, your brain produces more feel-good hormones like dopamine, which can help reduce stress levels. Aside from that, deep work can help you feel a sense of accomplishment, which can boost your confidence and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Getting things done makes you feel good.
Deep work can also help you feel more in control of your time and your workload, which can reduce feelings of overwhelm and stress. By setting clear goals and working intentionally, you can prioritize your most important tasks and let go of distractions that can contribute to stress.
So, if you’re feeling stressed out, consider setting aside some time for deep work each day. You might be surprised at how much it can help you feel more focused, productive, and at ease.
Reduce negative inputs
Reducing consumption of negative news and social media can have a big impact on lowering stress levels.
The constant stream of negative news and information that we’re exposed to on social media and in the news can trigger feelings of anxiety, fear, and helplessness. Reducing how much social media and news you consume can help you shift your focus from things you can’t control to things you have direct influence over.
Besides limiting your doom and gloom exposure, social media can contribute to feelings of comparison and FOMO (fear of missing out), which can make you feel like you’re a loser—even if you’re successful by most standards.
Instead of scrolling through social media or obsessively checking the news, consider setting limits on your media consumption. You might try limiting your social media use to specific times of day, or taking a break from the news for a few days at a time. Or even using an app that blocks social media access.
By taking control of what we consume and how we spend our time, we can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and improve our overall well-being.
Stress inoculation training
Stress inoculation training can lower stress levels by teaching you how to become more resilient.
Here’s how it works:
First, you learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress. Increased heart rate, muscle tension, shallow breathing and racing thoughts are a few examples.
Then, you learn techniques for managing these symptoms. Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and cognitive reframing are some of my favorites.
After you learn a few techniques, you practice applying these techniques in a controlled situation. This helps you to develop the mechanics of the technique in a low-stress environment. You have to get it right when it’s easy if you want to implement a strategy when you’re stressed.
Once you’ve developed some proficiency, then you try them out in real-life situations. For example, you try deep breathing during a tense moment at work or in an argument with your spouse. Over time, this practice can help individuals become more resilient to stress and better equipped to handle stressful situations without feeling overwhelmed.
I’m not sure how powerful stress inoculation training sounds as I explain it. But let me tell you you, it’s the key to managing stress. It’s how Navy SEALs keep their cool during dangerous missions.
By learning how to manage stress more effectively, individuals can feel more in control of their lives and better able to handle the challenges that come their way.
Now that you’ve read through these strategies for lowering stress, which one resonates with you the most? Which one do you feel like you need to start doing or do more of? It’s important to think about your specific situation and needs to get the best results.
For me, personally, I don’t think I need to exercise more to manage my stress levels. Instead, I think focusing on deep work and stress inoculation would be most beneficial for me.
If you’re not sure which strategy would be most helpful for you, that’s okay too. Experiment with different techniques and pay attention to what works best for you. By taking the time to find what works for you, you can successfully manage your stress and crush your goals, even when unexpected events occur.
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