Sleepless nights, tiredness, upset stomach, muscles aches, chest pains and loss of concentration are some of the physical signs that reveal you suffer badly from stress. Many people think that they can get away with excessive stress, using both healthy and unhealthy coping strategies. In fact, prolonged stress weakens the immune system. It doesn’t happen overnight but gradually and you are so busy that you hardly notice it. Why do some people get cold after a cold? It’s because their natural body protection, the immune system doesn’t stop anymore the germ virus that produces a cold.
The aim of this article is to empower you to deal with stress effectively, though commitment is required for lasting results. Workplace relaxation techniques involving meditation and breathing are an efficient but temporary stress relief. For lasting results, you also need to explore your way of thinking.
Excessive stress signals that you are overwhelmed. But in fact, this stress results mainly from your perception. Change your thoughts, change your life. Here are ten ways to get your stress under control.
#1 Overcoming the Lack of Communication
The first thing to know is that excessive stress impedes your ability to think clearly and communicate with others. It’s because your body is switched to the fight or flight mode. The primary brain or reptilian brain is responsible for body functions such as breathing and reproduction. Inside the primary brain, the hypothalamus gland acts as a ringing bell when a potential danger is perceived through our senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste and perhaps intuition. The problem is this brain hasn’t evolved since our hunter-gatherer ancestors. As a result, no distinction is made between real and perceived danger. Every challenge becomes a potential threat, and the energy available in your body is diverted to the muscles for action. This is no energy left for the thinking process and even less for proper communication. Workplace relaxations techniques including yoga and breathing help the team member’s body calm down. The energy is then rebalanced throughout the body.
#2 Walking in Group and Social Life
Taking time in a natural environment is good to restore balance in your body. Sitting down in a garden or facing an awesome landscape allows you to reconnect with your inner self. Personally, I found that interacting with other people in a relaxing environment is a great way to reduce stress. Half the problem is solved, we say when shared with like-minded people. We grow from learning about other unique life experiences. This is why I created the Meetup group London Stress Relief and Social.
#3 Breathing is Life
Among the workplace relaxation techniques offered, the art of breathing is prominent. Breathing is being alive! During a mindful meditation, focusing on breathing for ten or fifteen minutes helps you be aware of the present moment. The mind normally wanders in the past and in the future. Being grounded in the now cuts the flow of unhelpful thoughts aka judgements, comparisons, and criticism that may clutter your mind.
Don’t forget to breathe! Take a deep breathe when you need it.
#4 How Big is Your Problem?
Constantly seeking to protect us from danger, the ego inside our mind tends to amplify minor problems to make big ones. This increases stress in life and at work. When faced with a challenging situation, ask yourself: what’s the worst thing that can happen? What’s the best thing that can happen? In most cases, you realise the drama isn’t so bad after all.
#5 Practice Gratitude
Appreciate what you have already because the feeling of abundance brings more good things in your life. It’s the law of attraction. The point is, when a difficult situation arises like the threat of redundancy, you feel that you may lose everything. This thought fuels stress and this question pops into your mind ‘what if?’
To appreciate something is to be aware of it, to know that it’s here for us. When you are aware of your family and friends’ support, and recognise your material possessions as blessings to make your life smoother, you stress less. It becomes easier to start devising a plan B in case of redundancy. Remember, excessive stress shuts your ability to think clearly.
#6 Read Positive Words Daily
Positive affirmations are part of the workplace relaxation techniques. Among my favourite affirmations are:
“Look for something positive in every day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.” –Unknown
“You learn more from failure than from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character.” – Unknown
“In order to carry a positive action, we must develop and have a positive vision.” – Dalai Lama
You can find many other positive quotes online. Print and paste on the wall or any convenient place, so you get frequent reminders. Messages sip into your unconscious mind through repetition in the same way you learned to walk as a toddler. It takes time, but the changes are lasting.
#7 Can You Control It?
Most of what happens around us is beyond our control. You can’t be responsible for the colleague who arrives late at work and let you deal with a hectic office. But, you can choose how to deal with your team members’ lateness.
You can’t control the workload piling on your desk. But, you can learn to prioritise, be assertive and say no to extra work or simply ask for help. Personal power is the ability to manage our feelings to find out an outcome to our advantage. Reframe your perspective.
#8 Steer Away from Noise
Our mobile phones have become Pandora Boxes of more or less exciting news and lots of virtual friends who share their lives online. You know these social sites like the back of your hand, I guess Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, to name a few. Social sites are addictive. Day and nights, you receive updates and trivial notifications such as ‘X is now following Y who has 728 followers’. Oh dear, this guy works in the same industry as you! You only have 245 followers, how do you feel about it?
You’ve got it! Social media want our interactions and indirectly encourage competition. Competition is stressful and not always productive. What to do? Just unplug and switch off notifications. Focus instead on what you need and want, and the rest will follow.
#9 Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
Practice empathy: put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How do they feel? How will your decision impact them? Ask for their views. People like to help and be perceived as worthy. You’ll get friends in the process and reduce your stress. When you know what other people think, you’re better prepared to answer. You stop worrying about what they think of you, their actions, or the ‘faux pas’ you may commit to addressing them because you have the intelligence.
I give an example of a situation where empathy is needed. Two children are running up and down the carriage on a train. A passenger gets annoyed and angrily goes to the children’s dad, to tell him to better control his children. The dad is weeping. His says to the angry man: “Sorry, my wife just passed away. I don’t know what to do with the children, how to tell them?”
#10 Explore Your Beliefs and Values
Workplace relaxation techniques also encourage writing down your feelings in a journal. As well as expressing your feelings, journaling is also a good way to explore the motivations behind your actions. Question your thoughts and ask yourself:
Why do I feel and think this way? Who told me that? Is this true?
The most common limiting belief is ‘It can’t be done!’ Ask yourself, ‘How can I do it?’ Write a list of what is stopping you. Where does the assumption that it can’t be done come from? Limitation and frustration are great sources of stress, and the way out is to explore the options available.
To conclude, the practice of the above will help you better manage your stress. These key points develop your awareness, essential to get control of your life. Your stress levels and health depend on how good you are at managing daily events. These suggestions to deal with your stress are easy to follow. The hardest is to turn them into a routine, and you may want the support and guidance of a life coach. Your life is well worth the journey because you are unique.
(Photo: iStock/BAYRAM TUNÇ 2012)
Beatrice Setze is a Stress Management Coach who has coached for career previously. Her interests include walks in the countryside and French food. She lives in London. For enquiries, visit www.beatricesetze.com