I recently ran across an article by Karen Salmansohn, author of several books on happiness, relationships, and resilience including Instant Happy: 10-Second Attitude Makeovers. The title of the article was “How to Reduce Your Stress Levels at Work.”
In the article, Ms. Salmansohn acknowledges (as do I) that we are all subject to feeling stressed some of the time, and many of us are, unfortunately, feeling stressed much of the time these days. In spite of the fact that we have the luxury of technology at our fingertips–technology which is presumably designed to make our lives easier–more and more employees report that now that they are more accessible through technology, their employers have higher expectations of them regarding when and how they can be contacted and how quickly they are expected to respond. As a result, many of us never feel that we are away from work even if we are at home or on vacation.
Some of the de-stressing tips offered in Salmansohn's article include the following:
Try Some Deep Breathing: While meditation or yoga can be used successfully to help people de-stress, very often people will complain that they “aren't very good” at meditation OR yoga which ironically adds to their stress. Salmansohn recommends blowing up a balloon. The action of blowing up a balloon taps into the same breathing benefits received in meditation and yoga, and while you are concentrating on the task of blowing up the balloon, your mind temporarily lets go of the stress that you were facing in the moment. So, keep a few small balloons in your desk drawer, and the next time you feel overwhelmed, take a couple of minutes to try this. The recommended method for blowing up the balloon is as follows:
- Blow into the balloon with 3 breaths for a total of 3 seconds
- Hold the balloon's “tail” so the air doesn't leak out
- Catch your breath in 3 breaths for a total of about 3 seconds
- Then get back to work
Smell the Lavender: You may or may not already know that the sense of smell is the one that is the most connected to your emotional center. What that means to you is that if you can change what you smell, you can change how you feel. Lavender is widely recognized as a mood relaxer and energy re-balancer. Purchase a lavender-scented candle or a small bottle of lavender oil for your office. When you feel stress creeping on, light the candle or take a whiff of the oil.
Look at the Sky for Calm and Inspiration: Research indicates that the color blue is calming. If it is a pretty, clear day, take a few moments to stare out your window or step outside to just look at the blue sky. In addition to the calming effect of the blue sky, the image of floating clouds, according to researchers, will remind your subconscious about the importance of saying “light.” Additionally, the image of the infinite skies will remind you of infinite possibilities. If it's a gray and rainy day, trying wearing something blue, and stay clear of the windows for the day.
Listen to Music: The music of Mozart can calm the mind and may help you think more clearly, but if you have a favorite song or group of songs that would work to pump you up and make you feel stronger and more confident, go with that.
Employ a Little Pet Therapy: Research is very clear about the calming effect of our animals. Petting a dog or cuddling with a cat can help to de-stress you from an otherwise stress filled day.
Make a List of Your Accomplishments: You have many accomplishments of which you can be proud, and you have been successful in your endeavors; but when we are stressed, it is all too easy to forget all that. Make a list of the things you have accomplished and of which you are particularly proud. Be sure to include things that prove that you can overcome obstacles as they come up. These reminders will serve to shore up your fears and lack of confidence in any given moment. Keep the list around to remind you in moments of weakness that you have overcome problems before and you have what it takes to do it again.
I hope these suggestions will be helpful to you the next time you are feeling stressed, and don't just save them for work. They can work for you at home as well.