Three Keys to Managing Your Stress Every Day
Karin Vibe Rheymer Stewart
Stress in small doses, and linked to positive events, helps
you be more productive, active and happier. However, when
stress reaches a certain level, it starts to have adverse
effects. Adrenalin floods the body, breathing becomes shallower,
your thoughts become less clear - everything is framed in
terms of fight-or-flight responses. If this state persists
for extended periods of time, irreversible physical damage
starts to happen in your body - including the brain.
Some sources of stress you can avoid, but many you unfortunately
can't. However, you can make sure that you regularly and actively
reduce your stress level, so that you don't suffer its adverse
The first key to stress management is good sleep. Yes, it
does make a difference: If you sleep enough, you will be able
to better handle things that come your way, and your stress
response will be muted. So make sleep one of your priorities,
and avoid late nights at work as much as possible.
The second key is to weekly make an appointment with yourself
for at least a couple hours a week, devoted to relaxation.
It can be going to the gym, practicing a sport you love, getting
a massage (on this subject, see this month's spotlight), sit
down and read an entertaining book, do some knitting, whatever
works for you. The key is that this is an activity that you
enjoy, that you practice on your own (i.e. no co-workers to
talk business while having a tennis game, no children interrupting
you while you are reading your book, etc.) and that makes
you feel refreshed once you're done.
The third key is to make sure to have mini de-stressing sessions
throughout the day. It can be as easy as taking a few minutes
to breathe deeply; stand up and do a few stretching moves;
get out and walk around the block; or use some of the de-stressing
tools on the market (see This Month's Product for examples).
Ideally, experts recommend to take a 3-to-5-minute break every
hour. It is especially important if you spend most of the
day at a desk, and your body is stressed by the mere fact
of not being able to move freely for hours in a row. I am
in no way, shape or form a proponent of smoking (I don't smoke,
don't like the smell of smoke, and definitely don't want you
to suffer the side-effects and consequences of smoking), but
the cigarette breaks were good in the sense that they provided
those necessary breaks both body and mind. So introduce your
own non-smoking breaks in your day!
Now is your time to plan: Open your calendar, and figure out
when you can include an hour or two of relaxation time in
your week, every week until the end of the year. Then ask
yourself the following questions: How will you organize your
breaks during the day? When can you take a 10-minute break?
Which relaxation exercises do you want to focus on?
Karin Vibe-Rheymer-Stewart, Ph.D., helps busy women
reclaim time and achieve work/life balance through whole-life
time management, in other words everything that affects your
use of time. She has helped numerous clients find balance
and peace of mind, through one-on-one coaching, group coaching,
seminars and talks. For free resources and to contact her,
go to http://www.superwomanrelief.com
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