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Business and private life has become much faster, more complex and fully global over the last years This puts high pressure on individual work-life balance and well-being as the amount of available information and the high pace of changes creates an environment of permanent stress, what can lead from smaller indispositions to serious diseases.

My name is Claus Breede, I have been with SAP since nearly 20 years. In my main role I lead all virtual, digital and online learning and training for our sales colleagues. In addition, based on my passion and focus for life-balance, I am a mindfulness trainer and coach, facilitating mindfulness trainings at SAP and speaking at events and conferences about Emotional Intelligence and related topics.

The Magic Formula to Wellbeing

Studies and research shows that sickness from stress has accelerated tremendously over the last years. Hence, organizations and individuals need new strategies to cope with stress and to ensure continuous balance, health and wellbeing as the basis for everything in life.

With that in mind, wouldn’t it be great if there was a magic formula to cope with stress, to optimize balance and to finally improve well-being ? – For sure ! However, we cannot assume that there is just one objective general state of well-being (same with stress experience), since it is highly individual and triggered by people’s values, beliefs and experiences as well as preferences and resources. Consequently, what is a good recipe towards better stress-resilience for one person, might not work at all for others. For instance, somebody might be able to bring his/her stress level down by doing extensive sports activities, while somebody else might do meditation in order to relax.

So are we stuck without a solution and just need to accept that the human body, brain and soul is much more under pressure in today’s modern world and it is just the new normal that we suffer? – Probably not, since there are commonalities and certain patterns or aspects that usually need to be considered when talking about improved balance and well-being. How these aspects are being turned into action is highly individual as described above. And the good news is, that even with so much automated reactions and behavior, human beings are able to unlearn aspects of behavior that appear to be not healthy and learn new ways of dealing with stress triggers as well as supporting their own balance. Creating new and healthy mental habits by cultivating certain approaches as well as mental practices seems to be an appropriate part of a working strategy.

 

And here are three simple ways to do this:

1) Turn off the autopilot


The key in short words is increased self-awareness. Focus more on your reality here and now. This can be practiced by attention trainings, in which you simply sit in silence for some minutes focusing just on your breath. Just doing this for some minutes regularly can change the brain in structure and function so that the increased focus and awareness becomes a normal habit.

 

2) Take control of your own bus


Based on step 1 and your ability to be more aware of what happens in your present reality, you can create purposeful pauses instead of immediately reacting to external (from the outside) or internal (what you think) triggers. Do not sit in the backseat of your bus and let others drive, but take back the control and get into the driver seat. In other words, take control of your reactions and emotions, but interrupt this painful chain and take your time to choose a more mindful response to whatever is approaching you. This goes along with your general attitude to things that happen. Be less judgmental and more accepting and cultivate and optimistic mindset.

3) Manage your environment


There are key aspects in life that influence our stress level, how we feel about it, and how far we are able to deal with it. Some main factors are: Nutrition, Sleep, Physical Activity, Social Environment. Make sure that you drink and eat healthy and in accordance with what your body and mind needs. Have enough sleep and avoid stressful and distracting activities in the evening. Balance your body workout between gym, endurance and stretching. Have a look at engagements with other people and use your social environment to provide you energy through positive relations.

 

Be Happy

Finally, be aware that your body, brain and soul are always closely connected and whatever you do and believe has a strong influence on your life and your well-being. It is your choice to lead the life that you want within the boundaries that you chose. Get started and change for increased balance, better responses to stress and a more healthy and happy life.

 

 

Follow-Up

How do you manage stress and deal with your daily challenges? – Please share your comments and tips below.

Check out more blog posts in this series: Coach’s Corner.

Stay healthy – Stay Balanced – Enjoy what you do every day !

 

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13 Comments

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  1. Jayne Phillips

    Thank you Claus Breede for this great blog!  So important and your comments about how stress, triggers, reactions and proactive solutions are individual in nature.  We must first know ourselves and then assess and determine proper actions.    I find balance and how it is defined to be individual in nature as well.  We can’t judge someone else’s balance based on our own preferences and needs.

    I have evolved a lot in this area over the past several years and some of my most important learning has come from practicing yoga.  My yoga is of course a big part of my physical well-being, but the lessons that are incorporated around our whole life and all the elements of full practice I carry into how I live my life, respond to stress, evaluate perspectives, and much more.

    Thanks for starting the conversation around this topic!

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  2. Michelle Crapo

    For me – it is trying to surround myself with positive people.  It can’t happen in the office all of the time.  But you can determine who you spend time with.  I’m lucky this job, I have mostly positive people around me.

    I also work from my home.  That has been a huge benefit for me.

    A walk outside can bring me back into focus.  The dogs love it.  Oh yes, and pets really reduce stress.  They are a happy bunch!

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    1. Jason Cao

      Where did I read that positivity is contagious? Oh yes, this comment from Jannies Burlingame who said that mood was contagious. 🙂

      Positive people are gold! Glad to hear you’re working with a positive team – I’m sure your smile and positivity is rubbing off on them as well (much the same way it is for members of this community, Michelle).

      Dogs?! I love dogs! My favourite time of the day is when I can take mine out for a walk. Mine have opposite personalities so our walks are both joyful and stressful. As long as they are happy – ommmmm…:)

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      1. Michelle Crapo

        How nice – thank you!  I do hope it is contiguous.

        Maybe I should have said smiling is relaxing too.  I have a list in my mind.  Smile and people tend to smile back at you.

        So here’s my “fur-babies”.  You asked for it with that comment:

        Gemma – Golden Retriever and YES she is always happy

        Mohawk – Not always happy.  Sometimes he wants left alone to sleep – he is a black retriever.

        Geronimo – I call him Monster.  Is an extremely happy boy.  Unless he doesn’t know you and I’m around.  He tends to be protective.  At around 125 pounds people tend to back off.  And i you don’t think they have a sense of humor.  He is taking a car ride, and he will wait to bark.   What is he waiting for?  Why a person to be outside.  Then he barks and scares them.  I swear he looks at me with a smile.

        My horses are all the same pretty much, I have 3.  They like me but not much else.  Ringo however, if you are out in the field with him.  He is with you and steals tools if he can.  He’s our jokester.

        The minis (2) – they basically like people but that’s about it.  The pony wants to be left alone.  He’s getting up there in age.

        And…  On to the cats:

        Daisy – Friendly and loves to set in your lap and purr.

        Cyn – She’s a typical cat.  She wants petted when she wants it and not before.

        Spike – He’s in a legue of his own.  He thinks he is a dog.  He will show up for treats and want petted but not carried.  His favorite thing is to lay by his friend Mohawk.

        And that’s it.   Personalities plus in my house and outside.  Non-animal lovers might not under…  OK animal lovers too, probably don’t understand how imported my fur-babies are to me.

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        1. Jason Cao

          *Gulp*…that’s a lot of animals! You obviously love animals. 😀 It’s amazing how you know their personalities so well. What a nice way to balance your technical work.

          Two dogs and a senior-guppy is all I have so far.

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  3. Jason Cao

    Excellent post, Claus Breede

    Like Jayne above, I appreciate you pointing out how individualized stress recognition and management are. Self awareness is so important as you also highlighted.

    For me, I give myself designated down-times throughout the day. One of my past managers suggested that I take 10 minutes here and there to just stare at a blank wall. It was a bit hilarious and puzzling when I heard that back then, but there is wisdom in this advice. It involves clearing the mind, focusing on something (or in this case nothing), and taking note of where my mind and emotions are going to. I think this may be related to your advice of “taking control” and “purposeful pauses.”

    My prefered activity for stress-management is Qigong. It’s a great low-impact activity for me to focus on my breathing, remember the next step in the routine, and keep this old body limber. 🙂

    You last note about choice is especially important to me (and I hope others note this message as well). Many things around us can influence how we feel, and what we believe. However, the actions, behaviour and attitude we take is ultimately up to us.

    Thank you for this post!

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  4. Jennifer Coleman

    I love the “take control of your bus” analogy, Claus Breede  Over the years I have learned the “sacred pause” between action and reaction.  This allows me to respond more thoughtfully and with greater awareness of impact.

    I practice mindfulness, meditation and moving meditation in the form of Yoga (like Jayne Phillips).  In yoga it focuses on mind, body, breath integration and I particularly relate to the concept of coming back to my center.  Whether its my center of balance, strength or relaxation.  I also do my best to embody “strength and sweetness” that the practice encourages us to seek out – and not just in the physical poses but also in how we show up in life.

    Thanks for the reminders and inspiration!

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  5. Marina Kozlova

    Agree with every letter. Simply accepting that living under huge pressure is normal should NOT be the way to go. Not – as long as the stress takes its toll on people’s well-being and health. And it also takes its toll on our profits – individual and as a company.

    Thank you Claus for bringing the awareness about de-stressing and re-balancing our life and work.  Our new virtual classes this quarter are exactly about these topics – stress management, mindfulness, exercise, food, good night’s sleep, purpose in life. And I can’t believe how people are happy to look into these subjects and to start taking small and so important steps towards better health and well-being, better awareness every minute and better performance that comes with this.

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  6. Claus Breede
    Post author

     

    Great comments and Feedback ! Thank you all for taking the time to respond … Keep it coming. It clearly Shows that there is not the one and only Magic formula to resilience and wellbeing, but certain repeating Patterns and ingredients.

    I had a Chat with a friend yesterday who I had not met for longer time and he was talking about an injury and how this impacted his Approach for wellbeing, which was up to then based on a lot of Sports and physical activity and out of a sudden he was not able to Practice that anymore. Took him some time but finally worked out by 1) accepting the new Situation, 2) accomodating to it with new strategies and different activities and 3) staying open minded and positive and taking pro-active Action in order stay in Control of what is best for yourself. He is now very much engaged in a Sports Club as an instructor and coach for Kids, so still in the Environment that he loves. Thought I would share this Story, since it really touched me.

    Stay balanced, Stay healthy !

    Mindful Regards, Claus

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  7. Tomiko McKenna

     

    Claus, thank you for sharing. I couldn’t agree more than it begins with self-awareness. I was fortunate to study leadership and org development in graduate school, and we spent a lot of time on mindset. If we can understand our core needs and beliefs, then we can make healthier choices when it comes to our thoughts and actions. Likewise, being in tune with those around us and understanding that their needs may be very different from our own is one of the most valuable things I studied and continue to work on. I heard on a podcast or in a book recently that if we find ourselves in a stressful environment and disagreeing with someone, we should “move closer” to them. In other words, we should try to understand them and come from a place of openness.

    I’m very excited about SAP’s investment in well-being and will be reaching out to you to learn more about mindfulness coaching!

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