Slow racing thoughts and relax knotted muscles by breathing deeply and slowly, at least ten times. Put one hand on your stomach. Make sure you are breathing deeply with your diaphragm. Avoid fast, shallow chest breaths that increase tension. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
Picture your favorite place to relax. Beach? Woods? Hiking trail? Keep a picture in your office or on your refrigerator. Pause to feel, hear, and smell your special place. Be there, and the next time you visit your place of contentment when your stress cycle begins to escalate, you will be able to access more vivid and effective images.
Write down your top three priorities for the day. Put the rest aside. If possible, stop answering your phone or e-mail in thirty minute blocks. Collect yourself. Focus. When priorities change, pitch that note and write another with only three points. Don’t think too far ahead. Stay in the moment. Work on what’s in front of you.
If your workplace allows music, opt for slow classical pieces such as Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” or contemporary recordings such as George Winston’s “Summer” or “Winter.” Slow your mind and even try to walk in that cadence. Move and swing your arms slightly, doing subtle shoulder rolls to loosen up before you take up the next project.
Don’t buy into “calamity conversations” and absorb the stress of others. Run positive messages through your mind. Use your voice. Say, “Of course I can handle this, all in good time.” Walk outside if work if the main topic at lunch with co-workers. Think of something besides work as you walk: dinner with your spouse or your daughter’s soccer game. “I’m really looking forward to this evening.”
Stress can escalate until your neck is sore, your heart is racing, and you feel overwhelmed. On an average day, more than half of the workforce leaves work feeling stressed and tired. Many take the stress home, vent with family or friends, and then have trouble sleeping. Stop the stress cycle with these ten quick, easy tips.
Set Boundaries & Detach
Make taking care of yourself your first emotional priority. You can’t make people vanish that you don’t like, but you can make them have a smaller part in your emotional life by responding differently to their drama, emotional swings, behavior, and crises. This means knowing what your hot buttons are and practicing different responses, getting better each time you try.
Laugh At Yourself
It’s impossible to smile and stay stressed. If you smile when you’re talking with a coworker or smile when you answer the phone, your stress will unwind. Try a funny YouTube video to begin a contagious laugh. Keep a list of funny situations you’ve been involved in or scenes from a movie with your favorite
Select Stress-Free Snacks
Sugar can make you feel great during stressful times, but when your blood sugar crashes after the initial “jolt”, you end up more strung out than before. Choose high-protein snacks such as yogurt and nuts, or fibrous vegetables and fruits such as carrots or apples. Decaffeinated teas can be soothing, but avoid coffee, tea, or sodas with caffeine, all of which heighten anxiety.
Change The Channel
Bringing the tension home? Break away from your stress by tuning into a comedy or romance on TV, a DVD, or at the theater—enjoy a storyline where everything ends on a happy note. Leave your own drama by enjoying someone else’s story. No news, no high-adrenaline adventure flicks.
What The EAP Can Do
If these tips don’t work for you, or if you think you need something more, call the EAP. You may need additional help to resolve personal problems or issues that are the source of stress in your life. The EAP will help you find a way to feel good again.