My Favorite Stress Relievers   Leave a comment

By L. John Mason, Ph.D.

I was pushing my cart through a large department store the other day when I almost ran smack into the Christmas tree display. Christmas—what? How can that be? We haven’t even gotten to Thanksgiving yet. Just the thought of the holidays started to make me feel stressed. It’s a busy time at work. Plus, there’s shopping to be done, travel plans to be made and all the other trappings that come with the season.

Do you know this feeling? Maybe it’s not induced by the sight of a giant Christmas tree. Your stress might be triggered by the thought of an annual event that you’re in charge of planning at work or a report that you have to prepare for a large customer. Whatever the reason, we all experience these anxious moments.  Here are some ways to help relieve that stress.

1. Take 40 deep slow diaphragmatic breaths each day. Spread these evenly throughout your day, don’t do them all at once. You can benefit from associating the deep breaths with some common work occurrence such as the telephone ringing. Though simple to do, it is a powerful stress-management strategy.

2. Use regular relaxation periods for work breaks. Try 15- to 20-minute periods of undisturbed time away from the phone and/or family. Commit to using this for four to six weeks to begin to see the benefits. You will be surprised to find that this will save you time and energy. You will get more done in less time if you are not distracted by internalized stress.

3. Exercise regularly. Do some form of aerobic activity such as walking, jogging, swimming or biking for 20 minutes, three times per week at a minimum. Thirty minutes or more, four to six times per week is recommended.

4. Eat sensibly. Avoid caffeine. Do not cope with stress by using alcohol or drugs. If you are stressed out, caffeine is like throwing gasoline on a fire to put it out.

5. Focus on new directions and regular planning. Give yourself positive options if you feel trapped. Plan for growth in all aspects of your life; not just work.

6. Use humor. Positive attitudes really help. Difficulties, when viewed as opportunities for growth and proving your abilities, are less harmful.

7. Protect yourself from negative co-workers and relationships. Do not get caught up in other people’s negative thinking.

8. Get back in control. If you cannot control all the people and situations that happen around you, at least you can control the way you respond.

9. Give sincere compliments freely and smile. Be positive and let it shine on everyone around you. It will come back many times more.

10. Learn to really listen. It is the best communication technique that you can develop.

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