21 Great Ways to Conquer Stress
An earlier post about reducing stress accumulated comments full of excellent advice from Sales Source readers. Here are the gist of them, along with some additional insights I have on the subject:
1. Take joy in small victories. Most of us have ambitious goals that may take years to achieve. While that's a good thing, you should also celebrate the intermediate milestones that you hit along the way.
2. Hang out with non-work friends. If you spend too much time around the people you work with, you end up talking about work all the time, which can add to your stress. Spending time with friends who aren't plugged into your work gives stress a break.
3. Create a relaxing soundtrack. Movies have soundtracks because music elevates and intensifies your emotions. If you want less, creating a mellow soundtrack for the movie of your life, and listen to it on headphones while you're working.
4. Cultivate a tactile hobby. If your work is primarily intellectual, find a hobby that requires you to work with your hands. For example, I've been beating my own stress by building architectural models out of miniature stone blocks.
5. Get a therapeutic massage. A massage release muscle tension, which is how your body stores stress. Avoid thinking about work while you're on the table. Instead, focus on the pressure and imagine each part of your body gradually letting the tension go.
6. Broaden your perspective A huge source of stress is the feeling that everything you're doing and every mistake you make (or might make) is IMPORTANT. In ten years you'll barely remember whatever is stressing you out.
7. Let go of the past. Carrying the baggage of past mistakes is incredibly stressful. Rather than worry about history repeating itself, consider that every big success is preceded by a string of big failures. Once you've failed, you're more likely to succeed.
8. Limit your exposure to violent media. Movies and computer games seem to be competing to who can be the most violent and graphic. Watch too much of that stuff and it puts your body into "fight or flight", creating stress even where none existed before.
9. Take a walk outside. Assuming it's safe to go outside (I worked in a fairly dangers part of Los Angeles a while back), getting a breath of fresh air and stretching your legs gives you perspective when things get weird at the office.
10. Pray or meditate more often. Numerous scientific studies reveal that prayer and meditation changes your physiological state for the better. This is true whether you're religious or an atheist... or anything in between.
11. Watch or read something funny. Laughter is a huge stress reliever. If you can't laugh at yourself (the best stress reliever of all), find something else to laugh at and if possible somebody else to laugh at it with.
12. Bundle small tasks into a single effort. How you perceive your workload determines how stressful it seems. Make work less burdensome by combining minor to-do items into one project or effort. Example: "Make calls" rather than "Call Joe, Call Jill, etc."
13. Break a huge task into smaller steps. Conversely, if a single task seems overwhelming, break it up into sub-tasks and take them on one by one. Example: Rather than "Launch new website" create a list like "1) Find a model site, 2) Create list of required content, etc."
14. Schedule time to concentrate on one task. This works with either of the previous two methods. Schedule some dedicated time (when you won't be interrupted) to complete either the bundled task or one step in your list of subtasks.
15. Limit your information intake. A good way to think about information is that it's like water--you need it survive, but if there's too much of it, you can drown. The Internet is designed to deluge you with information.
16. Have sex more often. 'Nuff said.
17. Stop squabbling with strangers online. Getting in heated online arguments over politics, sports and so forth simply creates stress out of absolutely nothing. Nobody online ever convinces anybody else online to change opinions, anyway.
18. Don't work weekends and evenings. Occasionally you may need to do an all-nighter or a weekend slog. Making a habit of it, though, is begging to be stressed out. You need time to regenerate your batteries. Take it.
19. Breathe deeply. When you take short breaths, it tells your body to be stressed. When you take long deep breaths, it tells your body to relax. Do this consciously for a while and it will eventually become automatic.
20. Take a long shower or bath. When you're in the tub, you can't use your electronics or answer the phone, so you're forced to be someplace where work pressures simply can't reach you.
21. Find a job that suits you better. Finally, world's most common source of stress is a job that isn't right for you. If you hate your job, or even if you're lukewarm about, find a better one. Don't wait until your stress makes you sick.
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GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist
Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.