Self-renewal is hard work and can lead to creating stress for you. Managing stress though is important for maintaining overall health and well-being. If you are having difficulty managing stress during your renewal process then read on as this article gives you six effective ways along with actions for implementing them.
1. Practice deep breathing.
Deep breathing exercises, also known as diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, can help to reduce stress and anxiety by slowing down your heart rate and calming your nervous system. This type of breathing involves inhaling deeply into your diaphragm, rather than shallowly into your chest.
Here is a simple deep breathing exercise you can try:
Deep breathing exercises can be done at any time and can be particularly helpful during moments of stress or anxiety. Incorporating deep breathing exercises into your daily routine can also help to reduce overall stress levels and improve your overall well-being.
2. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise can release endorphins, also known as “feel good” hormones, which can improve your mood and reduce stress.
When you exercise, your body also produces other chemicals, such as norepinephrine and cortisol, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, exercise can improve sleep, increase self-esteem, and provide a sense of accomplishment and control.
It is recommended to get at least 30 minutes of moderate/intensity exercise most days of the week. However, even small amounts of physical activity can be beneficial.
There are different types of exercises you can choose from:
It is important to find an activity that you enjoy and that fits into your lifestyle. Remember that consistency is key and making exercise a regular part of your routine can help to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.
3. Prioritize and Plan Tasks
Prioritizing and planning tasks can help to reduce stress by allowing you to focus on what is most important and avoid feeling overwhelmed. When you have a lot to do, it can be easy to feel like you're constantly running behind, which can lead to increased stress levels.
Here are a few tips for prioritizing and planning tasks:
Remember that perfectionism can be a source of stress and that it's okay to make mistakes or not be able to complete everything on your list. Prioritizing and planning tasks can help you to feel more in control of your time and reduce stress.
4. Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries with your time and energy is an important aspect of managing stress. It means being mindful of what you can and cannot take on and being able to say "no" when you need to. This can help protect you from becoming overworked or overextended and can help you to prioritize your well-being.
Here are a few tips for setting boundaries:
5. Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can be an effective way to reduce stress. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Meditation is a technique that can help you achieve mindfulness by focusing your attention on a specific object, thought, or activity.
There are many different types of meditation, including:
By practicing mindfulness and meditation regularly, you can improve your ability to manage stress and stay calm in difficult situations.
6. Learn to Say No
Saying "no" can be difficult, especially when we are under stress. Stress can cause us to feel pressure to please others and avoid conflict, which can make it hard to assert ourselves and set boundaries. But, learning to say "no" in a respectful way can help reduce stress by allowing us to maintain control over our time and energy, and avoid taking on more than we can handle.
When you are under stress, you may be more likely to feel guilty or apologetic when declining a request. However, it's important to remember that you have the right to make your own choices about how you spend your time and energy, and it's okay to prioritize your well-being.
One way to practice saying "no" in a respectful way is to use "I" statements, which express your feelings and needs rather than placing blame on the other person. For example, instead of saying "You're always asking me to do things," you could say "I'm feeling overwhelmed right now and need to focus on my responsibilities."
Another way to say "no" is to offer an alternative solution or to suggest a compromise. For example, instead of saying "I can't go to the meeting," you could say "I can't go to the meeting, but I can send you my notes or you can share the outcome with me afterward."
It's also important to remember that saying "no" is not necessarily a final answer, it's a step in the negotiation process. So be open to finding a solution that works for both parties.
In conclusion, this article provided six strategies to reduce stress during your renewal journey: 1) Practice deep breathing, 2) Exercise regularly, 3) Prioritize and plan tasks, 4) Set boundaries, 5) Practice Mindfulness and meditation, 6) Learn to say no. Build one of the strategies into your renewal process. For example, take one strategy per month and work at making it a new habit for you, or take one strategy where you feel you are most vulnerable and build an action plan to incorporate it into your life.
As always, take care, be safe, and continue becoming the best version of yourself.
Thank you for reading,
Resources from the FM Storefront
Stressology, Stress Care For Today
Remedies For Home office Business Stress
Stop Stressing Yourself
Every day we experience positive and negative stress. The positive stressors are good but the negative ones - not so good. Some of those negative ones are within our reach to control and change. Two stressors that you can do something about are those that cause you to feel overwhelmed and living a frenetic life.
In this article we peel back the stress onion on these two stressors and find out how they activate your levels of stress and what you can do about them.
What happens when you are feeling overwhelmed and frenzied?
Living a frenzied life actually causes you to be overwhelmed, and if you are living a frenzied life consistently you are constantly peeling that layer of the stress onion leaving you in a relentless state of stress. This is called distress and it is not good for your body, mind or soul.
When you are on the go all the time your body suffers. What you need to do is take a break, giving some space for you to calm your mind and slow down the body, giving you time to refuel your tank with fresh energy.
So, if your life is on this hectic pace, it’s time to do something to reduce your stress and feel less overwhelmed.
What can you do about it?
While there are some things outside of your control there are a number of things you can do to help calm yourself and reduce your stress.
Start with your priorities.
Write out a list of everything you need to do. Don’t worry at this time whether they are important or not. Just get them down. Once you are satisfied that you dumped everything that is on your mind onto the paper, go through your list and prioritize in descending order. You may find some are unimportant and shouldn’t be there, others you can delegate to someone else (even home things if you have children or other helpers) and others you can defer to another day. If you are deferring things to a later date then decide when you will do them and put them into your calendar for another day.
Next, get organized.
Being organized can greatly reduce your stress. Take your calendar, color code it for certain tasks, work in 60 or 90-minute stretches. If you are a morning person put the difficult tasks in the morning and leave the easier ones for the afternoon. If you are an afternoon person reverse the order. Make sure you allot sufficient time to get things done.
Prioritizing and calendaring will help you feel less frenzied and overwhelmed.
One other thing. Ask for help. You can do this at home or at the office. It is amazing how people will respond when they see you overwhelmed.
Delegate whenever you can.
You got to know when to “hold them, fold them or let them go.” Hold them when you have prioritized them. Fold them when you have detailed when you will carry them out? Let them go when you know you need to. It’s this last one that often is the most difficult. You have to “let go” when stress affects your health.
Letting go often means delegating to others so that the frenzied part of your life is minimized, and you are feeling less overwhelmed.
In a nutshell the art of delegating to others simply means you allow others to do some of the work for you so you can concentrate on the important tasks and areas of your life. Think of it as teamwork.
Delegating to others can occur in the home such as: delegating chores to others, carpooling your kids to sports, dance, or other activities, and sharing doing the dishes. There are many tasks that you can delegate around the home.
If you are operating a home office – think of delegating some activities to others through outsourcing or handing off some responsibilities to your young or teenage children such as shredding paper, emptying waste baskets, answering telephones, or delivering products.
Delegating when you work outside the home is another matter. We will review that at another time.
Live in the Moment
When things are swirling around you and you seem to be off balance take a few moments to be in the moment. Close your eyes, take a few deep breathes and relax your body - let your shoulders slump, relax your head and neck, drop your hands or fold them comfortably in your lap, and relax your legs. For the next few minutes just "be" and not "do". You can make this a spiritual moment for you and say a simple prayer, like "Father, help me change the things that are in my control, and let go of the rest," or whatever prayer comes to mind in this moment of quietude.
What’s this all about Anyway?
Think of it this way. Stress kills. Stress can cause heart attacks, strokes, and gastric issues. There are studies that show that it also kills brain cells.
Minimizing stress will help you to focus, think straight, sleep better and in general live healthier. It can lessen your anxiety, live with greater balance, and improve your relationships. So, why not try lessening your stress with the few suggestions outlined in this article. It may simply mean you will live longer and healthier. Not a bad outcome.
The bottom line is that we all deal with stress each and every day of our lives, but if we let it build up it could cause serious problems. Experiencing constant feelings of being overwhelmed and living a fast-paced frenzied lifestyle are two of the biggest stressors in our lives. The good news is that they can be controlled and managed, but it takes commitment and practice.
I hope this short article helps you reduce your stress by prioritizing, organizing, delegating, and living in the moment.
Please stay safe and healthy and remember your personal growth and development matters.
Oh by the way, you may want to take my Masterclass on Stress Management found under the Storefront Tab, or join FORTIS MEMBERSHIP which has numerous videos, e-Books and other resources for your personal growth and development.
Thank you for reading,
Richard P. Fontanie
If we want is to live a happy, healthy life and achieve our goals, then we will need to pay attention to our mental health. Let’s not wait until we find ourselves seriously struggling mentally or facing a diagnosed illness. Ignoring our mental health can play havoc on our everyday lives. It can drain our energy, motivation, focus and our concentration, and increase our stress. If left unchecked, it can lead to more deeper issues like anxiety and depression. Here are five ways that will help us keep mentally fit.
1. Stress Management
You know sometimes we don’t even realize how much stress affects our daily lives. Continuous stress builds up over time and slowly we find we are not sleeping well, skimping on our diet, or living in a state of fog. Living under stress can lead us to fatigue, hair loss, muscle pain, weight changes, infertility and a negative approach to life.
Certainly we can’t cut out every stressful situation in our lives. However, we can learn to let go of what we can’t control and mitigate those things that do cause us stress. For example, we can’t control how busy our office gets at certain times or how other people act. These situations may agitate us. When we feel that way, we can take a time out and focus on something else, preferably a happy though, a positive affirmation, or just smile at the situation.
2. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is not only good for our bodies it is also good for our minds. A simple thing like scheduling a short workout to start our day will pay dividends in lifting our mood and spirit. A 20-minute cardio routine is a perfect way to kick off the day. Studies show that brisk ten-minute walk three times a day is as healthy as a 30 to 45 minutes workout.
3. Go Unplugged
These days it is so easy to be constantly connected. Our phones are practically tethered to our hands. Often, we turn to it and unconsciously open a social media app. Before we know it, we’ve wasted 15-minutes scrolling aimlessly. Not only that, we are jarred into reviewing the latest breaking news which in turn triggers an avalanche of emotions that seems to be outpouring from all corners of the world. Suddenly, we are caught in that avalanche and we feel our emotions escalating to a higher pitch. That’s just for starters. That doesn’t even take into account how we interrupt ourselves to look at a notification or attempt to multi-task. Always being connected encourages plenty of bad habits.
Let’s do ourselves a major favor and unplug for a few hours or maybe for a whole day. Can we take the plunge and just put our phones on the “do not disturb’ mode, and spend our day untethered? Hey, we may find that we are re-engaging with people face to face, communicating with others, and enjoying nature. Isn’t that novel?
4. Walk Away
It doesn’t matter what we’re dealing with it’s important to understand when to walk away (or take a break) from a situation. It’s easy to stick at it and give in to frustration, but a short break can make all the difference.
5. Make Healthy Choices
What do you do when you feel hunger pains in the mid-afternoon? Do you wander over to the vending machine and grab a candy bar or a bag of chips? Perhaps, you brought a snack with you, but it’s not much better for you than what you found in the vending machine.
By making a simple healthy choice in times like this, we can positively influence our mental health. The best thing to do is to choose a snack that’s low on the Glycemic index, offers plenty of fiber and moderate protein. This helps us regulate our appetite. For example, take a small handful of raw nuts or a piece of cheese and top it off with a piece of fruit is more healthy for us.
What we are attempting to do here is to train our brain to get the same pleasure from healthy choices as it does to the junk it’s become accustomed to. Achieve this one dietary behavior at a time. Oh, and don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
It may not be easy to follow the tips above, especially if you are struggling with a mental health episode. However, once you start taking steps to apply some of the changes suggested you will see the difference in how you feel. Others will notice, too. We all experience mental health struggles from time to time, but these five tips can help us stay on track in improving our mental health.
Thank you for Reading
Any worker in America can attest to just how bad working can be on your health. Whether it's sitting at a desk for eight hours, looking at a computer screen or spending your shift on your feet, running around an emergency room treating patients. We risk repetitive strain injury, stiff joints, eye strain, and back pain. One of the biggest risks of our working life, though, is weight gain, especially for busy professionals.
Even those who are on their feet during their workday face challenges – they're busy, they turn to sugary food to keep them going and it's difficult to break the weight habit. There is good news, though, here are five fitness tips for the busy professionals among us.
It's the greatest thing you can do for your health. Not only does it improve your focus on overall performance the following day, but it means you are more likely to make the right dietary decisions. When you choose the right foods you feel better, you're more likely to have the energy to do those exercises, your mood improves, and it can even influence your sex life.
If you want to maintain your fitness you have to plan ahead. One of the biggest downfalls of any lifestyle is the inability to maintain it. So, if you know you're prone to grabbing junk at lunch, make sure you prepare your lunch the night before (the same goes for your breakfast and dinner). If you constantly forget to grab your gym bag, leave it at the door or somewhere you will see it for when you need it. The magic number when it comes to moderate exercise is 150 minutes – it is more easy to achieve than you think.
Switch Up Your Commute
Provided you live fairly close to your workplace – you can leave the car at home and hop on a bike or just walk. Not only will it save you money, it also helps protect the environment. Look at you, thinking of others and improving your health!
Lunch Break Performance
If this isn't possible, consider going for a walk on your lunch break – the fresh air will do you good. You can walk to a park to eat lunch or walk to a healthy eatery where you know there's time for you to dine well and get your steps in. It will also provide you with an energy boost, you will find your afternoon at work goes in quicker, too.
If travel is a regular part of your business, then you know just how difficult it can be to exercise and to eat well. The first thing you should do is start keeping a food diary – then you can track what you're eating while traveling, as it's easy to lose track. When it comes to exercise, check ahead to see if your hotel has a gym. If it doesn't, you can track a path to walk or jog and see if there is a gym in the vicinity.
Work gets busy, but there are plenty of ways you can find time for fitness. In addition to the tips above, you can skip the elevator and always choose the stairs. You may be surprised at how many calories you burn doing the housework. To save time, try to find a gym that's on your way home from work – you can slip in a few nights a week for a quick workout. Start your day with a short spiritual exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, and tackle the day with the energy and vigor it deserves.
In a previous article I suggested six strategies for re-energizing on the front line. I pointed out that working on the front-line all day long can be draining. I also suggested that front line employees don’t know what a customer’s next question might be, what mood he or she might be in, or whether the organization will be able to satisfy the customer’s need. Answering telephones, responding to queries, finding solutions to problems, and keeping people satisfied can be rewarding but also quite challenging. When we are at it all day long, week in and week out we can feel the effects of stress on our body, mind and emotions. Here are four more strategies to help your day go smoothly and help you alleviate stress.
We get paid for our work. That’s not a reward but something we receive in return for doing good work. A reward is something we receive for going beyond the ordinary and sometimes just completing the ordinary in an extra ordinary fashion. Often, we don’t expect anything more for this work, except the satisfaction of knowing that we are doing good work. This is more about self-satisfaction than aggrandizement. Sometimes successful companies take note of this and highlight these individuals as role models and identify them as potential people they would like to promote. However this is not always the case nor should we expect the company to always take note. Sometimes we know we have done a good job and as a result we can reward ourselves. We don’t need to be extravagant about this. We just need to take time out to pat ourselves on the back. Do something simple like taking a five-minute break before moving on the your next big task, treating yourself with something special over the noon hour, doing a kind act for someone else (a kind act always gets rewarded), …..
Claim The Importance Of Your Work
Whatever you do is important no matter what position you hold. Someone is dependent on you fulfilling your responsibilities. If it wasn’t important then there wouldn’t be a position and you would be out of work. When you signed up with a company no doubt you signed up with intention to carry out your work with the best of your ability. This is something expected by both you and your employer. The best way to align yourself with your work is to ensure what you do is connected with your personal purpose and values. This raises your work to a higher purpose and adds value to you and your employer. A quote attributed to Steve Jobs reads, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I suggest this means that we are not in it just for the paycheck. If the paycheck is the only thing that counts then sooner or later you will become bored, frustrated and unhappy. If this describes you, then you are doing a disserve to yourself and your employer. You are faced with a choice, claim the importance of your work or search for work that fits with your purpose or values. Your work is important, if you don’t see it that way, then make room for someone else who may experience a closer fit. As you sort through your work discontent explore your options with your employer or supervisor, seek career advice with a Human Resource specialist or talk to someone you can trust.
Avoid the Some-Day Stack.
The ‘Some-Day Stack” is that pile of stuff you put off for another time, day or week. If you consistently pile things on that stack, either on your ‘hard desk’ – the one on which your computer sits – or your ‘soft desk’ – the one on which your emails, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint sit – or both, they will eventually stress you out. There is an old axiom, “pick it up and decide what you are going to do with it before putting it down,’ and I suggest that we can now add “read it on your monitor and decide what you are going to do with it before going on to the next item’. The process is quite simple. Just decide to do it, delegate it to someone else, time activate it when you can do it, or trash it. If the item is important, set a priority to do it now or set a time when you can do it; if it’s not important and not urgent file it or trash it. If you are in a position where you have the opportunity to delegate consider that option, if you are not, then consider the other four strategies. Remember the process is simple but it takes discipline. And that my friend rests with you.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is something many of us have a modicum of control over but don’t follow appropriate sleep protocol. There are several bad habits that some of us fall into prior to retiring such as watching the late show or a heart thumbing drama on television, reading on tablets or on our phones, drinking an alcohol or coffee beverage, entering into a heated debate, not closing off your day. We have control over all of these items and once again it comes down to self-discipline. Here are some habit changes you can make if you see yourself committing anyone one of these poor sleep preparation habits. Thirty minutes to one hour before bedtime, switch off the television, put your reading tablet and telephone away, drink a cup of warm water or milk and avoid heated exchanges. In the early evening or before you leave work plan your next day by completing any quick activities left on your list; review unfinished business and set a date and time when you plan on completing them; identify your priorities for the next day and plan on completing at least one first thing in the morning. Proper sleep has the effect of improving fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and cognitive functioning. Lack of sleep has an adverse effect on a host of physical health issues. Sleep deprivation is often cited as a primary or secondary cause of industrial and motor vehicle accidents. So the bottom line of getting ‘your best sleep’ results in improving both your physical and emotional wellbeing, your relationships and your work life. For more on sleep deprivation read articles on Webmd. https://www.webmd.com/search/search_results/default.aspx?query=sleep%20deprivation
Thank you for Reading
Richard P. Fontanie MSW
Working on the front-line all day can be draining. Take the example of the customer service professional who doesn’t know what the next question might be, what mood the next customer might be in, or whether the organization will be able to satisfy the customer’s need. Answering telephones, responding to queries, finding solutions to problems, and keeping people satisfied can be rewarding but also quite challenging. When we are at it all day long, week in and week out we can become stressed out. Consider the following six energizing saving strategies as a way to meet this challenge. (Note this post is a further elaboration of the post dated 2.1.17)
Set achievable personal and work goals.
When people set goals, conventional research shows that they live longer. However, if those goals are to be meaningful we should write them out in a way that shows action and measurement. Action means we are going to do something to achieve something; and measurement allows us to track progress along the way. So, when we write goals they should be SMART, that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Trackable. If goals are not SMART they usually fall into the category of a wish list.
Let's take a couple of examples. At work we can write something like "complete the policy on the wellness program." A laudable goal, but not fully measurable or trackable. There is no time line for completion, so I can say "I'll get to it when I can, and it will be completed sometime, maybe." A great incentive to procrastinate. The goal may be attainable, sometime, and may be relevant to our work. We need to ask, "How does it relate to our work?” And, “what is the level of priority?" If it is not relevant than why are we doing it; if it is, how important is it? Is it: necessary and urgent? urgent and necessary? necessary but not urgent? or urgent but not necessary?
Once these questions are answered we can write a SMART goal such as: "I will complete a draft policy statement on wellness and present it to management for approval by September 30, 2018." Once the goal is stated we can then break it down to achievable monthly tasks, such as: complete the research for the wellness policy by February 8; ask for input from colleagues and receive their comments by March 31; write the first draft of the of the wellness policy by May 31; circulate to colleagues for first review and receive their comments by June 31; make adjustments to the policy statement by July 31; circulate final draft to colleagues and receive their comments, by August 20; prepare a draft policy statement for approval by September 20,2018. Once we know where we are going, ambiguity is lessened, we can measure progress along the way, and we have a comfort level about its attainability. In the end our stress level is reduced.
We can use the same goal setting strategy for our personal life as well. Rather than saying "I'm going to lose weight this year," be more specific: "I'm going to lose 30 pounds/kilos by June 31, 2018." Then set out the tasks to achieve that goal.
Accept the givens.
Often, our anxiety level increases because we worry about things outside are control. Worry doesn't accomplish anything but personal grief, and sometimes grief for others. For instance, we can't control time, but we can control what we do within the time we have; we can't control the weather, but we can control how we plan for poor weather; we can't control how people will relate to us, but we can control how we relate to others. We will have less anxiety if we control those things that are in our control and accept those things that are outside our control.
Thinking positively means approaching our challenges with a positive outlook. It doesn't necessarily mean avoiding those things that make us uncomfortable or ignoring negative situations; instead it means approaching those situations in a positive light, or making the best of a bad situation.(a) We can improve our ability to think positively by affirming or actuating the positive for ourselves and others. Rather than thinking "I can't do this," affirm to yourself that "I can do this;" rather than thinking "I can't get along with this person," think about the positive aspects of the person and affirm those within your mind's eye; rather than thinking "this place is a lousy place to work," think about what I can do to make it a better place to work. Thinking positively is not Pollyanna, pie in the sky thinking. It is thinking that is realistic but tempered with a positive approach to life rather than a negative one.
Thinking positively works. According to the Mayo Clinic positive thinking can lead to a longer life span, less stress, lower rates of depression, increased resistance to the common cold, better coping skills, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, increased physical al well-being and overall better psychological health.
If your approach to life is more on the negative side, and you would like to change your approach take heart, because positive thinking can be learned. In essence you are learning a new habit and as is the case of any change in habit we need to develop habit changing strategies. In this case, identify what needs to change, name it and make a firm commitment to change; throughout the day take a time out and review how you are moving towards greater optimism; whenever you find yourself becoming negative, take pause, and rephrase your thinking or how you are verbalizing your thoughts; start the day with an affirmative or positive thought and reinforce it by verbalizing throughout the day; and, surround yourself with positive people.
Take energy breaks.
One of the hard lessons busy people learn is that their energy drains when they don't fuel up. They skip meals or skimp on meals, gobble down food while working the phone or their computer, and eat junk food rather than nutritious meals. They also learn that when they are at their computer long hours without ergonomic seating or the monitor is too close, they experience strain and pain from their eyes, backs, shoulders and wrists. When these things, happen their body is yelling out, "Take a break!" (For more information on the importance of an energy break for personal wellbeing and business read this Globe and Mail article)
Here are a few suggestions: Work in 90-minute sprints and take a five or ten minute break – in some instances work in fifteen and thirty-minute sprints and take a couple minutes out. Consider: standing up and stretching; taking a short walk down the hall; shifting your eyes from the computer to something else; moving away from your desk to eat properly; going for a walk over the noon hour; or taking five deep breaths, slowing down the mind, and after three minutes coming back to the work at hand. (Read more about 3 minute break}
Drink plenty of fluids.
Walk through any office or observe the reception area and you will find beverages in hand or on the desk – and not the right kind of beverage. We see soda beverages with high sugar content; lattes with high fat content, or coffees with high caffeine content. What's wrong with this picture? It's true our bodies need fluids, but they need the right kind of fluids. Too much of these types of fluids clog the arteries, add an inch or more to the waste and make us jittery. The health hazards are well known – well ok, maybe not so for coffee, but more than four cups of the stuff begin to take its toll. 1. 2.
Water should be at the top of the fluid list. An average adult body is 57%-60% water, lack of water drains our energy and leads to dehydration. Nearly all systems in our body depend on water. Water moistens tissues such as those in the eyes, mouth and nose; regulates body temperature; lubricates joints, helps prevent constipation, lessens the strain on the kidneys and liver and carries nutrients and oxygen to cells. Drinking water after waking helps activate internal organs, one glass before meals helps digestion, and one glass before bed time helps reduce strokes and heart attack. Make sure water is a major part of your fluid diet. 1
Our body is built to move, so move it regularly. We can be quite sedentary on the front line such as standing or sitting for long periods. Overtime this takes its toll on our bodies and we find fat rolls creeping around our stomach, back-end, and other places too numerous to mention. The antidote to this is exercise. Get up from the chair and walk around, take a walk over the noon hour, take ten-minute walks in the morning, afternoon and evening, take the stairs, if sitting, stand up and read or walk about while reading; join a gym; seek a life style coach or trainer. Do something, just don't sit and stand for hours on end. One more thing, reduce television time, get off the couch and do something in the yard, in the garage or in the park. Do one or two of these activities a day and you will find a change in your energy level.
These re-energizing strategies are not difficult, they just take a bit a self-discipline, and that just might be the hard part. Try one of the strategies each month and find out the difference in: your outlook on life, the strength of your body, the calmness of your mind, and the wholeness of your spirit.
Author Richard Fontanie MSW, FCMC
Working on the front-line all day long can be draining. Take the example of the customer service professional who doesn’t know what the next question might be, what mood the next customer might be in, or whether the organization will be able to satisfy the customer’s need. Answering telephones, responding to queries, finding solutions to problems, and keeping people satisfied can be rewarding but also quite challenging. When we are at it all day long, week in and week out we can become stressed out.
What to do: In order to be “up” to the challenge consider the following 15 tips:
Want to Learn More? Spend 10 minutes a day reading books by Eckhart Tolle author of "The Power of Now" and "Stillness Speaks"; or Peter G. Hanson, M.D. author of "The Joy of Stress" and "Stress for Success."
From the archives of Fontanie Learning Solutions.
This is the third part of a three part series on reducing stress in today's hectic world. The first part covered the topics about the need to embrace change, be open to learning, getting back in control, focusing on the important and finding joy in one's work. The second part outlined a further five strategies about accepting the givens, taking time to exercise, breaking away mentally, finding one's quiet spot and connecting with ones spirit. Today we deal with the final five strategies that will enable you to reduce stress today.
Change Your Thinking: Do you see your cup half full or half empty? Individuals who approach life from a positive perspective live with less stress. The Mayo Clinic points out that those who have more positive thoughts than negative thoughts approach life optimistically; and, when we live with an optimistic frame of mind we reap the benefits of improved health and are in a better position to cope with negative stress. We can change our negative thought processes to positive ones by: 1) replacing them with positive self-talk; and 2) surrounding ourselves with positive friends and associates. Positive people encourage us to remain optimistic and that in turn helps us reduce stress. Approaching life optimistically and surrounding yourself with positive influences reduce stress.
Eat, Pray and Relax
Reach Out to Others: This three part series on reducing stress today outlines some of the effects of positive and negative stress on our body, mind and emotions.It also identifies a number of strategies to reduce negative stress. But can negative stress really be positive? Is there a different approach to how we view positive and negative stress? Recent research indicates that negative stress may have a positive outcome. This turns our present thinking about negative stress upside down. It suggests that stress may only be bad for us if we believe that to be the case. Is this another way of saying that people who think optimistically have less stress than those that don’t? Listen to this TED Talk wherein Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to view negative stress as a positive and introduces us to another strategy for stress reduction: reaching out to others. Reaching out to others reduces stress.(Thanks to Dr.Treena Swantson, for alerting me to Kelly McGonigal's presentation).
What to do: If you feel stressed out as you go through your day-to-day activities review the fifteen strategies incorporated in this three part series and pick one strategy to begin working towards a less stressful life. Working on one strategy which reduces stress is better than nurturing anxiety that just leads to more stress. If you have a stress reducing strategy that works for you, let me know in the comments below.
From the archives Fontanie Learning Solutions
Image: A quiet spot in my backyard.
Reduce Stress Part: Part One, outlined five strategies for reducting stress: embrace change; be open to learning; get back in control; focus on the important; and, find joy in your work. Here are five more strategies to help you reduce your stress today.
Accept The Givens: In life and in work there are certain givens - things we cannot change but learn to accept. Those that accept them inspire others and push forward without rancour and animosity. I look to individuals who have accepted their physical limitations but didn’t allow them to limit them (Terry Fox, and Rick Hansen, come to mind). At times we are placed in situations where we are unable to influence change either because the organization isn’t ready for change or an individual doesn’t feel any tension to change. Here the alternatives may be limited. We can either remove ourselves from those situations or adjust our expectations about them, or on balance, we can choose to accept what we cannot change without limiting our personal growth. I like the title and lyrics of “Bloom Where You're Planted" (Carey Landry version). It reminds me to bloom and grow wherever I am even when there are limits within and around me. Accepting the givens when your alternatives are shut down, reduces stress.
Take Time To Exercise: When we are stressed we experience physical and mental energy drain. Physical exercise has proven to be effective in reducing mental stress as well as lowering physical symptoms caused by stress. There is scientific evidence to show that exercise is effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness, enhancing overall cognitive functioning, and is particularly helpful when stress has reduced our energy level to concentrate. A ten minute walk three times a day or five minutes of active exercise can begin to encourage the endorphins that reduce stress. Routinely exercising reduces stress.
Break Away Mentally: In a previous post I outlined several quick ways to take a mental break. Breaking away from a stressful situation, even if it is for three minutes, refreshes the mind and body. Here is a reminder of the Three Minute Break Away exercise: Minute One - turn down what you have been working on and wind down; Minute Two - in a restful state empty the mind of distractions; Minute Three - rev up the mind and body with a few simple head and body shakes and stretches. Taking a three minute mental break reduces stress.
Find Your Quiet Spot: Dr. Joseph Mercola points out that we need to find a way to unplug from the demands of work, school, family and everything else if we want to remain healthy and productive. Locating a "quiet spot" is key to his recommendation. This does not mean isolating ourselves on an island in the South Pacific (although sometimes I think that would be nice). There may be a spot in your home or back yard, a near-by park or chapel, an exercise room, a reading room, or on your deck or balcony. We can usually find a quiet spot in every situation . The trick is to be alone and unplug whatever is turned on including the IPod, TV, computer, radio and any other noise maker. Finding your quiet spot is a peaceful way to reduce stress.
Connect With Your Spirit: Getting in touch with our inner spirit through meditation has lasting effects on improving our well-being. There are hundreds of scientific studies that show the impact of meditation as a antidote to stress and stress-related illnesses. As much as 20 minutes a day or as little as 5 minutes a day has a lasting affect on our well-being. The beauty of connecting to our inner self through meditation is that we receive the benefits of reduced high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease without the high cost of drugs. (A note of caution – meditation does not take the place of medical attention and medication but is a preventive measure as well as a supplement to prescribed medication).
Up-dated from the archives of Fontanie Learning Solutions.
In previous posts, I suggested my readers consider meditation as a way to relieve stress. I recommended that they set aside 20 minutes in the morning and evening to go deep within themselves and find a spiritual connection. But what if you need a quick mental break during a busy day and you don’t have 20 minutes to spare? Well there are several things you can do without interrupting others. You can:
Here is another I found particularly helpful and one I use regularly – The Three Minute Mental Break.
Pull away from what you are doing for three minutes. If you are at your desk and working on your computer, hibernate it or put it to sleep. If this is not possible, turn away from the computer and face the other way. If you don't have a desk job but you are busy serving customers on the floor, or working in a manufacturing plant or on a construction site find the three minutes when you take a company break.
Minute One: Sit up straight. Close your eyes. Relax your shoulders. Place your hands on your lap. Take several deep breaths and relax your whole body. Quickly go from head to toe and relax the muscles.
Minute Two: In this relaxed state, free your mind about what you have been working on. Concentrate on your breathing and listen to the breaths coming in and out of your body. Keep relaxed.
Minute Three: Slowly open your eyes. Let your mind take in what is around you. Take three deep breathes and then stretch out your arms, move your head two and fro and in a circular motion. Stretch out your legs or stand up and give yourself a shake. Go onto your next task.
If at the end of the three minutes new ideas or breakthrough thoughts come to you jot them down in a safe place. I have opened an Outlook Contact called Ideas for these fleeting thoughts. From time to time I go to the Ideas Contact and review them. Some I discard, others I set a time to work on them – as an example this post came from one of my three minute breaks. A few notes went onto my Ideas Contact, and now I have turned it into a post to share with others.
The Three Minute Mental Break is actually an introduction to meditation. Minute two brings you into a type of mindful rest and begins to rejuvenate your positive self. Studies on brain wave activity now show that just one minute of meditation has many of the benefits as a prolonged meditation, such as reduced anxiety and stress as well as improved productivity. When I present the concept of The Three Minute Mental Break to busy people I always get a positive response like: “This I can do.”
Tip: Set your Smart phone alarm for three minutes. If you are seeking other ways to improve productivity using Microsoft Outlook, consider this program by Priority Management.
Author: Richard P. Fontanie MSw FCMC, Updated from the Archives of Fontanie Learning Solutions