First there’s bumper-to-bumper traffic, then a morning meeting where you feast on stale coffee and donuts. After that, you look at your to-do list, which is filled with meetings, a client lunch and an upcoming conference you need to prepare for. Add to that your daughter’s piano recital and your son’s soccer game, which leaves no time for that dental appointment you desperately need. If your schedule sounds as stressful as this, you’re not alone.
Although you cannot avoid stress completely, because it is a condition of life, you need to know when it reaches dangerous levels in your body and to prevent it from harming you. The following are seven sure-fire ways to stay in control of stress in the office and your life.
Give a positive meaning to everything that happens to you. It is the meaning, not the event, that causes your body to secrete the harmful hormones cortisol and adrenaline. If you are dealing with a tight deadline, think about how happy your client will be if he receives the document on time. By deciding to give a positive meaning to everything that happens to you, 90 percent of stress will be eliminated.
Choose your fights intelligently. Very few things in life are worth fighting over. That parking spot near the office door … is it really worth fighting over? Save your energy for an emergency situation; don’t waste it on a colleague who wants to pick a fight or someone who cuts you off in the parking lot. Ask yourself if it’s worth a fight and if anything will change. If the answer is no, then why get your adrenaline going to prepare for a fight?
Listen to your body and be kind to yourself. We all have different signals that tell us when we are reaching our breaking point. For some it is a headache, for others indigestion, insomnia or depression. These are wake-up calls for you to curtail whatever it is that is causing you stress. Meanwhile, do an activity that you like. If you’re at work, take a break and walk around the courtyard or even the parking lot. If you’re at home, watch a funny movie, take a walk or reconnect with a loved one. Everything will wait but your health.
Respect your individual rhythm. Some people not only can but need to do many things at the same time. Others need to take their time and smell the roses. Know yourself and respect your own rhythm. If you work better under pressure and with a deadline, then use that to your advantage. If you like working in complete peace, without colleagues talking or outside noise disturbing you, find a quiet place to finish up that project.
Don’t worry about the “what ifs.” Most of the time we create scenarios in our mind that never come to fruition. If you are always worrying about what you don’t want to happen, how can you make room for what you do want to happen? The antithesis of worry is trust. You can’t trust and worry at the same time. It’s your choice: worry and stress, or trust and peace!
Update your coping skills. As you change, your life changes with you. What worked when you were 20 might not when you are 40—or 60. Maybe it’s time to learn to meditate, or maybe the answer is to exercise less. The solution might be as simple as traveling more or simplifying your life.
Invest in your health plan. Exercise moderately, eat small but nutritious meals five times a day, drink eight glasses of water and sleep at least seven hours. Create play and fun time, and stop any habits that you know will eventually cause stress on your body. Even at work, it’s important to keep up your healthy routine. Bring some bottled water and fresh fruit to snack on. Say no to that vending machine!
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Linda Nacif, author of Jump and the Joy Will Follow: How To Live in Conscious Joy And Health in Every Stage of Life, has a master’s degree in clinical psychology. She encourages clients to go beyond their comfort zone by taking risks, being adventurous, fit and enthusiastic. For information on her keynote speeches and seminars, visit www.lindanacif.com or call 619-733-2071.