Stress is in your life every day and often affects the way we think, feel and how we treat ourselves and others. Many stress management tips and techniques focus on activities you can do in your free time, before or after work, but what about when you find yourself in the middle of a stressful day at work? How do you get through the work day?
I have quite a few go-to tools in my stress management toolbox. Some of the these tools are obvious, but when I find myself already feeling stressed, sometimes even obvious solutions elude me. My top stress management tips that immediately work, anywhere, anytime are:
Take a deep breath. No, really. Sit up straight in your chair, roll your shoulders back, close your eyes, and count to three as you inhale and again as you exhale. As you breathe, relax your tongue in mouth and feel your jaw relax. Take at least three deep breaths.
Your breath is powerful, it carries oxygen to your brain and every cell in your body. Often when we are stressed, and, let’s be honest, even when we’re not, we tend to slouch and to breathe shallow breaths.
Even if you think this technique will not work for you, why not try it anyway? What do you have to loose, other than your stress? Taking three deep breaths is not going to harm you and it just may help you if you open your mind and your heart and breathe!
Shrug your shoulders. Shrug your shoulders, bringing your shoulders up to your ears, then let your shoulders fall. Make this technique more effective by breathing in as you raise your shoulders and exhale sharply as you drop your shoulders down away from your ears. Repeat the shoulder shrug three to five times.
I know, I know, again with the breath. Shrugging your shoulders with your breath isn’t going to change your life, but it can change your moment. And your day is a collection of moments and your life is a collection of days and years.
At the very least you may just look comical enough shrugging your shoulders and exhaling sharply that you’ll let out a chuckle and everyone knows laughter is great stress relief! You can even throw your arms in the air.
Walk away from your desk. Stand up and walk away from your desk, even if only for five minutes. Do not collect $200 and do not walk directly into a co-worker’s office. Walk in the opposite direction of your work. Take this opportunity to get a drink of water, use the restroom, or even walk outside, into the sunshine, and change your view.
There are days when I find myself in the middle of a problem or project and I forget to get up and walk away from my desk from time to time. Or worse, I think of walking away and don’t follow through. Then I ask myself, “how much work am I really going to get done in five minutes? Do I really not have five minutes to spare?” Even when I’m working on an urgent project, I find I can focus better when I return from a five minute break.
Take a mental step back. Trust me, this is not as crazy as it sounds. When you’re focused too intently on the problem in front of you it feels like that problem is enormous and the problem overwhelms your day.
Put a little perspective in your day by putting your day in perspective. If you are doing something you don’t like or something that causes you stress, you aren’t doing it forever, you are only doing it today. One of my favorite tools is using “Just for today”. Recognize that the stress in front of you is just for today, and you can do what you need to do to get through it. Try saying one of my favorite “Just for today” statements or create your own.
Just for today I will do my work honestly.
Just for today I will not complain.
Just for today I will complete the task in front of me.
Just for today I will love myself enough to let go of something I have no control over.
Just for today I will not worry.
Just for today I will do my work with appreciation.
Just for today I will earn my living honestly.
Just for today I will treat everyone with respect and kindness.
Just for today I will give this day my best effort.
Each of these stress management tips instantly relieve stress in my day. I hope you will try one or all of my tips, or find some that work for you. What will you do just for today to put your day in perspective and manage your stress?
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