At times in your life when you are inundated with stressful situations, the last thing you want to hear is another cliche. The sad truth is we all will experience uncomfortable situations that trigger stress. As a person who routinely encounters deadlines, multi-tasking and a desire for excellence, trust me, I know all about stress.
At stressful times, I take a step away and have a "Put this in perspective moment". What is that, you ask? This is when I ask myself what I am really stressed about? Most times I realize that I am stressed about a potential future event that may or may not happen. Think about it for a moment. How many times does your mind create scenarios that may never happen? At those times, I consider all of the positives associated with the scenario, rather than the negatives. Once I do this, I begin to clear my mind so that I can think about solutions to my current situation, instead of focusing on the problem. Ultimately, I feel better and my stress subsides.
In dealing with stress I have several tools that we have helped me over the years. I will share them with you:
The first tip in successfully handling stress is to count your blessings. Many times, your situation is not nearly as bad as you think it is. You complain about going to work, but what if you were bed ridden. You complain that your home is too small- what if you had to live in a shelter. You complain that no one understands you- consider being deaf in a world where few people understand sign language. We take so much for granted and we're always wanting more than what we already have. When my mom got ill and I watched her cry because she couldn't even go to the bathroom by herself, for me, life took on a whole new meaning. Count Your Blessings
The second tool is to practice deep breathing. Did you know that you can't be emotionally relaxed in a physically charged body? An emotionally relaxed body slows down your heart rate. Take a deep breath and hold it for about eight seconds, then breathe out slowly. Ten to twenty deep breaths and simply taking a break can help you to relax, clear your mind and bring you out of panic-mode.
The third tip for managing your stress is to reevaluate your situation. List and evaluate all of the advantages, disadvantages, positives and negatives. Consider a few possible routes to resolving the matter. Then establish clear goals and an action-plan that will help you achieve the desired results.
Here are some other stress reduction tips:
1. Work Pressures. Change your schedule.
When most people get in to work, they check their e-mail and voice mail. Save it for later. Spend your first hour, when you're the sharpest, on creative and strategic thinking. While you're at it, break down your day into specific tasks, rather than trying to juggle everything. Studies now show that a 50-minute task takes four times as long if you juggle too many tasks at once. "Are you a starter of all and finisher of none?" asks Julie Morgenstern, author of Making Work Work. If you can, pick one day a week to leave 30 minutes earlier than usual. "It feels like corporate suicide," Morgenstern says, but allowing yourself that early exit will keep you on deadline and make you hyperfocused to complete jobs more efficiently.
2. Personal Pressures
Change the habit, not the world.
Destressing isn't about eliminating all of your stresses; it's about getting control of them, one at a time. To do that, you should make micro-adjustments in your life, not big ones that eventually add more stress, says Stan Goldberg, Ph.D., author of Ready To Learn. "What's important is whatever [changes you make to your routine] need to be small enough so that there is a minimal amount of difference between what you've been doing and what you now do," Dr. Goldberg says. If you're working on being prompt, get to every appointment, not just to work 5 minutes earlier than normal. Successful change is permanent, not dramatic.
3. Self Care
Eat the antistress diet.
When you're in stress mode, your insides produce more chemical reactions. You experience surges of the hormone cortisol and sugar levels that spike and plummet, which can leave you feeling under pressure and sluggish. Counteract those reactions with the right foods, says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of The Food & Mood Cookbook. For breakfast, avoid sugary cereals or breakfast bars and eat whole-grain cereal and a piece of fruit. Then pop a vitamin with at least 500 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 250 mg of magnesium. Magnesium, which is flushed out when stress rushes in, helps regulate those cortisol levels. For a snack, the crunch of veggie sticks or carrots helps release a clenched jaw and the tension headache you can get as a result of stress. Before bed, go with a light carbohydrate-rich snack, like toast and jam, to quicken the release of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which will help you sleep better.
4. Personal Power
Always avoid "always".
One of the biggest booby traps in your life is overgeneralizing. "First dates never work out, she always gets promotions before me, he always arrives at least 5 minutes late". Unconsciously, using "always" and "never" steers you away from feeling that you have any control over changing the things that stress or worry you, says Daniel Amen, M.D., author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.
5. Emotional Symptoms
Schedule your emotions.
If we let it, stress can eat away at us like a squirrel with a nut. That constantly worried mentality impedes decision-making, says Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D., author of Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life. She suggests you write down what you're worried about, then set aside some quiet time (say 30 minutes) to figure out solutions. That way, worrying won't disrupt your work, and you'll be able to think through the answers.