40% of adults say they lie awake at night plagued by the stressful events of the day (Forbes, 2013)
Stats like this like are scattered throughout the internet, and let’s face it…the numbers affect each of us. I am fortunate enough to sleep like a rock, but that doesn’t mean I am immune to stress throughout the day. With a never-ending to-do list, I recognize that there never are enough hours in the day. While techniques for properly dealing with stress vary, the importance of doing so is critical to success in the workplace and your physical health.
Here are a few activities that work for managing stress personally. Some of them will be preventative and others as coping mechanisms. Keep in mind I am not a certified medical practitioner, so if you feel the need to seek help, please do.
Planning Time Effectively and To-Do Lists
A little while ago, I wrote an article that mentioned time management. In the article, I suggested the value of developing effective calendaring methods. While at first this seems like more of a burden, in the end you will find that you have more time to accomplish the tasks that can cause stress. If you get a new deadline, the better plan that you make to reach it, the less stress it will cause. Now I know that most of us habitually procrastinate and wait until the last minute, but if you want to reduce stress, this will help immensely.
Being mindful of my breathing has been pivotal in my own stress management. When the weight of responsibilities gets heavy, I find myself actually feeling that weight. By taking a moment to mindfully breathe deeply, I feel that pressure leave and almost instantly feel better. The American Institute of Stress has numerous articles that touch on the importance of deep breathing. Here is a quote from one of them that was very poignant:
“Abdominal breathing for 20 to 30 minutes each day will reduce anxiety and reduce stress. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.”
Talk to Others
It seems that when we get stressed, we often will shut down and become introverts. Perhaps to avoid this it’s important to talk with the people around us about what is going on. Family, friends, coworkers and managers all want you to succeed. Share what is on your mind and get ideas for solving the problems that face you. “Talking about the issues and problems that are causing you to become stressed is a healthy and effective way of channelling your emotions and promoting a far more positive outlook through a network of support and understanding. This support will help to remedy any feelings of isolation and can help to reduce stress levels considerably” (Bluepage.org).
Taking Time for Yourself
Recently, my wife and I have been watching the show Parks and Rec. For those who have seen it, you might be familiar with the term “treat yo-self.” Two of the characters ritually take a day to unwind and do something rewarding. We get so busy between work, school, family life and trying to do anything social that sometimes we don’t take a few moments to relax and do something fulfilling. Find a hobby, a new show to watch or pick up a good book. Whatever works best, take a few minutes each day to take that time for yourself. Rewarding yourself in this manner will help you to be happier.
While writing this post, I found a few articles that are particularly helpful. Feel free to go take a look to get some more ideas. “12 Ways To Eliminate Stress At Work,” Forbes; “Coping With Stress at Work,” American Psychological Foundation.
Let’s hear from you! What do you do to reduce stress in your life? Comment below and share the article to someone that might need it.