I don't really mind when work gets a bit stressful. A little stress during the day is fine. It gets me focused and pushes my creativity. But too much stress in my day and I can become distracted and unproductive. Long-term stress can have negatives on health and relationships. Ironically the less you deal with your stress the more likely you are to create additional stressful circumstances with your behavior. This creates negativity with the people around you, that can ultimately lead to... yep, you guessed it... more stress.

I have three ways for dealing with stress when it gets in my way of being productive.

  • Accomplish Small Tasks--By finishing a few items and checking them off my to-do list, I give myself a little stress relief and am better equipped to focus on tougher challenges.
  • Talk It Out--Stress for me usually comes from being responsible for seemingly unsolvable issues. Talking to a mentor or super smart friend can help me find a path forward which usually lightens the tension.
  • Disconnect and Escape--If the stress is unresolvable in the short term, I have to take a mental break. TV for me is a great escape that allows me to fill my brain and relax for a while. Even short funny videos can drop down the pressure a bit.

Here are additional insights from my Inc. colleagues.

1. Go Spiritual

The most effective stress busters for me are two related practices: meditation and yoga. I'm not as regular as I'd like to be with either, but the good news is that even a little can help a lot. A five-minute meditation, or even closing your eyes and focusing on your breath for a few moments, can go a long way. I've even done it in a car (as a passenger) on my way to a presentation I was nervous about. As for yoga, when I injured my shoulder and had to skip it for a few weeks this winter, I got very stressed indeed. --Start Me Up


2. Move and Breathe

When under the gun workers may attempt to hyper-focus for hours at a time, yet this is counter-productive. A recent office building experiment showed that fresh air increases human productivity by 20 percent. Add in a little exercise via a five or ten-minute walk outside and your body will reward you with a release those feel-good endorphins. Set a timer for every two hours and take a break to refresh your body, mind, and spirit. You'll produce stellar results and probably be first to finish for the day. --The Successful Soloist

3. Isolate and Focus

Stress is a normal part of being in business, and while it can sometimes be a good thing, often it's not. I find that the times I get most stressed are when I feel overwhelmed with too much input coming from too many places all at once. I'm fielding phone calls while I'm dealing with urgent email messages at the same time as a colleague is texting me--all while I'm trying to meet a deadline. I've found that the most effective way for me to relieve this kind of stress is to focus on what's most important at the moment (usually my deadlines), and turn off all other sources of input. This means turning off my smartphone, closing my email program (not just hiding it), and telling clients that I'll be "away from the office" for whatever period of time necessary to tone down the stress while remaining productive. --The Management Guy

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