A highlight from Vibrant Life magazine, with comments from Paul Sr.
Most people experience less leisure and more daily stress as they juggle work and career, family, and friends. In spite of life’s demands, there are some simple, effective steps that can be taken to ease up on daily pressures. Here are 16 ways to reduce stress during the workday. Choose those that work best for you and practice them often. Why? Because your health (physical, mental, spiritual) is much more important to your joy than material things. Here’s to your heath!
- Begin the day with a brief prayer and meditation: Rather than jumping out of bed and rushing to start your day, take a few minutes – from five to 20 – to pray, meditate, read a short inspiring passage, think peaceful thoughts, appreciate God’s gift of a new, fresh day. Beginning this way gives you a sense of peace that will manifest itself all day.
- Apply the wisdom of Paul to your daily living: “Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV). Those words are a reminder to think positively. During the day when you face a crisis, think challenge. When you face an obstacle, think opportunity. Approaching any stressful event positively will boost your energy.
- Remember, you get to make mistakes: “Many people start sinking into despair or scolding themselves unmercifully after making a mistake,” observes Charlotte Davis Kasl, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Finding Joy. “The important thing to remember is that everyone makes mistakes…so ease up on yourself.”
- Create peaceful images in your mind: Several times during your workday, pause briefly to create a peaceful image in your mind. For example, picture yourself gently canoeing on a calm, still lake with the sun shining brilliantly. Or imagine yourself sitting quietly on a hillside where you are completely surrounded by beautiful wildflowers.
- Practice hospitality: Maintain an open-door policy in your heart for everyone you will encounter during the day. Greet everyone with a smile. This will make others feel good about being with you.
- Observe your breathing: When we are relaxed our breathing is slow and even. However, when we are anxious or upset we tend to breathe irregularly. Pay attention to your breathing. As soon as you notice yourself becoming stressed say to yourself, “Stop.” As you breathe out, smile. As you do this let your shoulders drop and relax your hands. Repeat this technique several times.
- Take a brisk walk: Experts note that exercise is effective in burning off the excess adrenaline that fuels feelings of anxiety and stress. Exercise also releases endorphins—the body’s natural chemicals that block anxiety and pain. So take a brisk walk over lunch hour. During office hours, even a brisk walk down the hallway or up a flight of stairs can help.
- Change your lunch environment: Get out of the office and enjoy your noon meal in a park. Use this time to be with nature. At least once or twice a week, eat by yourself in silence. Eat slowly. Be thankful for your meal. Enjoy yourself.
- Walk in someone else’s shoes: Try to see a conflict or difference of opinion from another person’s point of view. In most cases, you’ll find your anger slipping away.
- Beware about what you drink: The caffeinated drinks you drink throughout the day can be a mental-health nightmare. Too much caffeine can cause shaky hands, restlessness, and irritability—all of which increase stressful feelings. Try eliminating it from your routine. If you can’t do it all at once, then cut down or do it gradually.
- Concentrate on the task at hand, not the outcome: This is another way of learning to be less than perfect. If you find yourself fretting about a project, speak gently to yourself, saying: “Here I go again worrying about the future. I’ll just give this my best now.” Then do that. Remember to leave the future in God’s hands.
- Just say “No”: Yes, it’s okay to say NO! You don’t have to accept every project, every invitation to become involved, every opportunity to attend a meeting. Accept what you need to do and what you want to do, but say “No, thank you” to other requests for your time. People will manage if you say no.
- Make a peace pact with yourself: As soon as you begin to feel angry, hostile, cynical, skeptical, irritable, or impatient, repeat a word that can offset the negative energy. Some examples include peace, love, hope, faith, joy, patience, etc.
- Relive a happy memory: Tap into the power of your memories. In a time of stress, look back and remember a pleasant experience of satisfying moment.
- Let there be music: The right music can take you from a highly tense state to a relaxed state in a very short time. The right music is generally instrumental rather than vocal. Many people find the sounds of nature combined with musical harmonies to be very relaxing.
- Don’t bring work problems home: This one is going to be difficult for many, especially in this electronic age. But, do your best. Leave your cares behind at the office. You will feel better, and you will return to work refreshed, energetic, and more creative. A few tips: At the end of the workday sit quietly and consciously make the transition from work to home. When you pull into the driveway, park on the street, or about to leave your home office space, take a minute to orient yourself to being with your family members or to entering your home. Try changing out of your work clothes when you get home. This simple act might help you to make a smoother transition into your next “role.’”
Now Start Managing That Stress!