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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 stress:

  • 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 helps, also.

  • 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 almost immediately."
    -- 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 sugars.

  • 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 stress.

  • 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.

About Source of Article
This article was written by Justin Tyme and made available by Ideas and Training at http://www.ideasandtraining.com/.


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