12 Tips to Reduce Stress
By Justin Tyme
Friday, March 05, 2004; 5:00pm EST
"My computer crashed at work, my boss was being difficult and I got
stuck in traffic on the way to pick up my son from school" -- Caroline
Greenwood, Surprising new stress-busters that'll take the tension out
of your day, Woman's World, May 30, 2000
It always comes back to time. There's never enough time. There are so
many things to do and so little time in which to get them done.
Reports are due. Project deadlines are coming up. A major client
hasn't paid your latest invoice and there are bills to be paid next
week. Stress is closing in on all of us. Stress is affecting not only
the way we do business, but our bodily health at the same time. While
we can't make stress go completely away, there are some things we can
do to reduce our stress levels and make us happier and more
productive, which reduces our stress levels and makes . . . and so on
and so on.
"As health problems go, heart disease, cancer and obesity get all
the limelight. But we should pay just as much attention to another
serious health issue: stress." -- 6 Steps to lessen stress, USA
Weekend, May 26-28, 2000
Here are twelve things anyone can do (yes, even you) to reduce
Replace the phrase
"I have to . . ." with "I get to . . ." - Small business writer Don
Doman, author of Out of Work? Get Into Business and Look Before You
Leap: Market Research Made Easy, says that when he's feeling
overwhelmed and has too many things to do, he starts using the
phrase "I get to." "Even the most miserable of tasks seem easier and
less stressful if you get to do them. It's kind of like a reward.
Oooeee, I get to make cold calls today. It gives you a positive
feeling." By removing that feeling that you "have" to do something,
you've reduced some pressure and stress.
Cut out the coffee,
hot chocolate, and soft drinks - Caffiene can cause anxiety and make
things more stressful. So, you might want to limit your trips to
Starbuck's when you are suffering from stress.
Keep toys on your
desk - My wife used to keep "Transformers" near the phone.
Transformers were plastic robots that changed their shape depending
on which way your turned them and moved their body parts. She played
with them while she was on the phone. It gave her something physical
to do and mental at the same time, and helped reduce anxiety.
Write down your
stressful situation - By putting your thoughts down on paper (or in
the computer) you can transfer your emotions from your mind to
something more tangible. After you're done with the writing you can
crumble up the paper and throw it away, or light a match to it and
let your troubles go up in smoke.
Tackle the most
stressful tasks first - As we become more tired, our stress defenses
go down, so it's best to handle the most stressful events when your
body is most alert and rested.
Exercise - I have a
"Thigh Master" that I use to exercise my upper body and my thighs
when I've been hunched over a desk for too long. Getting away from
the desk and exercising for just a couple minutes can reduced stress
remarkably. If you can get away for a walk, that's even better.
Think about pleasant thoughts and not about your problems -- that
Get some oxygen
into your body by breathing deeply - Headache expert Dr. Jeffry
Finnigan in his book Life Beyond Headaches says that one of the main
keys to a healthy body is getting oxygen, which we can't do if we're
all slumped over and stressful. Take a few minutes and close your
eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. I like to tell myself that with
each outgoing breath I am becoming calmer and less worried and
stressed. If you can stop and breathe deeply for ten minutes a
couple times a day, you can reduce your stress dramatically.
"Breathing becomes short and shallow when we start stressing
out," says Deborah Johnson, Ed.D, an assistant professor at Baylor
University in Waco, Texas. "The quickest way to break this tension
loop is to start drawing air deeply into your lungs, which allows
oxygen to flow throughout the body. You should feel a difference
-- from Soothe your stress spots, Fitness, November 1998
Eat a sweet - When
you're feeling really stressed, take a minute and eat a bite or two
of candy (watch out for chocolate, which has caffeine in it).
Researchers have found that stress levels go down when we consume
Make yourself at
home - Personalize your workspace. Surround yourself with
photographs of home, posters from favorite movies or plants and
flowers. The familiar, homey-objects, help relax tensions.
Drink some orange
juice - Scientists have discovered that vitamin C can reduce the
production of stress hormones. Eat an orange, drink some juice, take
a 200 mg. supplement, or eat other foods rich in vitamin C like
broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers,
potatoes, strawberries, grapefruit and cantaloupe.
Sing a song - This
tip does double duty, music and singing relaxes the body, AND by
singing you breathe more deeply. Depending on your voice, however,
you might create more stress from the people around you.
Watch a funny video
- Laughter like singing gets more oxygen into our lungs, so watch
something that gives you some belly laughs. Blazing Saddles always
works for me. I know most of the lines, but so what? Mel Brooks says
the essence of humor is anticipation and payoff. Just like reducing
Find out more about
stress. Read a book, listen to an audio book, watch a video. You'll
see that you are not alone and that there are many ways to overcome
stress and the way you handle a stressful situation.
No matter what kind
of work we do, stress is part of our lives. We can reduce our stress
levels, but we can't eliminate it. We can learn to control it and live
with it, however.
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This article was written by Justin Tyme and made available by