Did you know that a record “Seventy-five percent of visits to the doctor’s office concern stress-related ailments?” How can we better manage daily stress, and find balance at work, at home and on Ravens game day?
We live in a technological age, where email, instant messaging, cell phones and the Internet were created to make us more efficient. But are they, or are they creating more stress due to their on the spot nature?
The alarm clock rings sharply at 6:00 a.m. and the day begins with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. I grab a cup and head straight down to my basement for a quick jaunt on my elliptical. I feel strong, positive, recharged and energetic as I run a few miles on the elliptical to the upbeat, pounding music on my iPod.
That energetic boost carries me through congested Northern Virginia traffic that is enough to drive even the most patient person insane, yet I still feel ready to take on my day; that is until I arrive at work. The reality of work settles in, and I am immediately assaulted with requests, a bulging in-box, constant interruptions, and the demands continue. Anxiety builds and I feel overwhelmed.
As I struggle to remain calm in this moment of chaos I wonder, how can I better manage daily stress, and find a balance at work, and home? How can we find a balance in our hectic daily lives as we attempt to juggle work, school and our home lives and still be successful?
Stress is defined as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” There are many techniques for managing stress, such as, working out, meditating, choosing to live simplistically, listening to soothing music, consulting with a spiritual leader or attending your local church or temple.
It is truly about finding what works best for you. I work out in the morning and am stressed and have an anxiety attack by noon! Ok, so I am exaggerating just a little bit to illustrate my point. We all face different demands on our time, some of us are single working parents and students, while others may work two jobs and attend school, and whatever category you find yourself in, what can you do to find peace in the midst of the mayhem? I have a few suggestions that just might help, or at a minimum make it more manageable.
In his book Walden, Henry David Thoreau writes, “I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily . . . and threw them out the window in disgust.” (Thoreau, 1910, p. 33)*. It took years for me to understand what Thoreau meant, but he opened my eyes to a life of calm rather than chaos. That calm, was simplistic, minimalistic living free of clutter.
Desks overrun with files, stacks of paper, and disorder can cause added stress; therefore,
- Do your best to tame the paper monster, and organize as much as possible. Even I have difficulty with this one because I live in a land of paper, performing my job as Contract Administrator.
- Organize your Email In-Box by setting up “must read” folders for your boss, or other important managers, and then set aside blocks of time during the day to check and respond to email.
- Create task lists, set priorities, and update your task list every morning to plan your day.
Most importantly, enforce your own rules!
If you designate 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. as a block of time for checking and responding to email, then do not answer the phone when it is ringing, let it go into voicemail. Unless their hair is on fire and you are the only one holding an extinguisher, more than likely their call can wait! Interruptions are one of the key time wasters, and this can increase your controllable stress.
Have you ever been working, and either a sound or smell brought to mind a pleasant memory, and you smiled? How did you feel in that instant? For just a moment in time, you most likely felt peaceful and happy even though moments before you were tremendously frazzled, and feeling like your head might explode.
There are many things you can do to invoke this feeling, such as
- Aromatherapy evokes calmness. Peel an orange for an instant burst of fragrance, and you get the added benefit of eating fresh fruit which is good for you! Lavender (yes that’s in the family of Ravens Purple!) is also proven to soothe tension and aid in relaxation.
- Music that makes you feel good, or audio self-help books such as The Secret, or The Art of Happiness to plant the seeds of positive thinking.
- Yoga class or even a walk on your lunch hour to enjoy the sunshine and get out from under the florescent lights, it is amazing what a quick break can do for your mental state when you are stressed.
- Power of positive thinking cannot be overstated; it is proven to reduce stress. We can wallow in a pit of self-misery, or look for the silver lining; ask yourself, which feels better?
Stress is a reality in our daily lives, accepting that and finding ways to cope is surely a task we all undertake on a daily basis.
- It is important to put you first, and then you are better able to take care of everything and everyone else.
- When you feel the heavy assault of stress creeping upon you during the work day, take a deep breath, and exhale, and visualize something that brings you peace.
- Your visualization is all about you, it could be a smiling baby’s face, crashing waves on a pristine beach, or the feel of the warm sun upon your skin, and then just maybe, you might be more focused, and a little less stressed to face the tasks at hand.
Stress, anxiety and life’s hassles cannot be avoided but you can learn to manage the way the effect your life. That’s only stress that I need is on Ravens game day, when I’m rooting and ranting for our boys in Purple!
How do you manage your stress?
Got a tip? Leave it below to share with your Bmore Chix!
*Thoreau, H. D. (1910). Walden. New York: C.E. Merrill Co.