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The 6-step technique to emergency stress relief
STRESS. Everybody has it, and everybody talks about it, but nobody really knows what stress is…
Stress is defined as what you experience when the perceived demands being made of you – like pressures – exceed the resources you have available.
Always remember that stress signifies different things for each of us. The very same steep rollercoaster ride that is a terrifying experience for some, can be a pleasurable thrill for others, or seem to have little effect either way. Stress can be the ‘spice of life’ or the ‘kiss of death’ – one person’s meat, another’s poison.
Stress is not necessarily bad. Winning a race can be just as stressful as losing. Increased stress improves our focus and productivity, up to a point, after which things go rapidly downhill. But that level differs for each of us.
Stress is an unavoidable consequence of life. There are some stresses you CAN do something about, and others you CAN’T hope to avoid or control.
The pressures we may face at work come from 4 key areas:
1 The Working Environment
Noise, overcrowding, uncomfortable working conditions, lack of resources, car parking, too hot/cold, locations etc.
2 The Job
Ambiguous role, repetitive work, tight deadlines, shift work, too much/little to do, too much/little responsibility, travel, anti-social hours, reacting to emergencies, conflicting demands etc.
3 The People
Relationships with your boss, colleagues, senior management, staff, suppliers, customers etc.
4 The Organisation
The culture, expectations, policies and procedures, traditions, good/poor communication, being in a minority, level of stability, tendency to change etc.
Here are a number of ways to control the stress in your life at this very moment and how to minimise it in the future…
This simple exercise only takes five minutes out of an entire work day, and is proven to:
- Reduce Stress
- Make you more creative
- Give you more energy
1: Find a place where you won’t be interrupted
No phones, no computers, no co-workers dropping by with a quick question. Some companies are now creating quiet rooms for just this purpose, but if not, a meeting room or even the bathroom works just fine.
2: Close your eyes
Just sit for 30 seconds or so and relax.
3: Focus on your breathing
You don’t have to breathe in any specific way, just notice your breathing. Is it fast or slow? Is it deep or shallow? The way you breathe says a lot about your mental state. When you’re angry, stressed or afraid your breathing is typically fast and shallow. When you’re happy, relaxed and calm your breathing is typically deep and slow. Do this for about a minute.
4: Make your breathing deep and slow
Sit with your eyes closed and take deep, slow breaths. Do this for two minutes. Your mental state affects your breath. Deep, slow breaths work to relax you.
5: Focus on yourself
Ask yourself these three questions:
- How is my body feeling? Is there any pain? Any tense muscles? Any good feelings?
- How am I feeling? Am I happy, angry, calm, sad, excited? All of the above?
- What am I thinking? What is occupying my thoughts?
You don’t need to do anything about any of this, just sit for a minute and ask yourself these questions. Keep your breathing deep and slow.
6: Breathe some more
Take another minute to just sit with your eyes closed and breathe slowly and deeply. Then begin to open your eyes, regain your focus and, slowly, proceed back to your work environment.
If you ever feel you are about to be tipped back over the edge, refer back to the above and start again. A simple 5 minutes to regain stability and composure.
Some other useful tips which are proven to reduce stress quickly can include:
- Going for a short walk
- Chewing a stick of gum
- Trying a DIY Massage
- Putting pen to paper – write down all of the thoughts and ideas you are dealing with right now
- Putting on music which you love
‘Stress is an important dragon to slay – or at least tame – in your life.’ – Marilu Henner