Here are some of the ways in which you can reduce stress:
- Change your attitude toward the stressors
- Improve your time management skills
- Establish a healthy diet
- Practice relaxation techniques, including mediation and yoga
- Talk with someone you trust to get things off your chest
- Take time to do things that are self-fulfilling
Different people respond differently to these approaches. Try and see which one works the best for you. Generally, remember that you have a choice in how you overcome stress. Try being objective in stressful situations, look beyond the immediate and temporary and toward the long-term goals.
Develop a positive perspective on what makes you stress. Changing your attitude is the most effective and powerful way to reduce or eliminate stress from your life.
Time management is another effective way to lower your stress. Time management is not really about managing time, but rather about manage you within time. Instead of saying to yourself “I don’t have enough time,” try saying “I am not managing myself within time.” (see more details on this topic under Time Management)
Eating the right kinds of foods is an essential element in taking care of your body. The following diet will help you fight the stress more effectively:
- Increase your intake of complex carbohydrates which increase serotonin in the brain, which makes you feel better. Such food includes pasta, brown rice, potatoes and cereals.
- Reduce simple carbohydrates found in sugary and sweetened foods, such as soda and candies. They will give you the quick sugar rush, but will make you feel worse in the long run.
- Increase intake of B and C vitamins. Eat your veggies, particularly dark leafy greens, also carrots, peppers, beans and squash. All have essential vitamins to help with stress reduction.
- Eat proteins, including fish, chicken and lean meats. They contain amino acids to repair damaged cells in the body and enhance mental performance.
- Potassium helps relax muscles and is found in milk, wheat germ, nuts and bananas.
- Supplements may be useful to replenish other complexes, vitamins and minerals which stress “vacuums” out of your body (Magnesium, Calcium, etc.) Relaxation
Getting sufficient rest and relaxation is another component of effective body care. The good news is that relaxation could be achieved fast and easily as often even very little things can have a profound impact on how you feel. Try out these different ways to relax and see which one will have the most impact on improving your mood:
- Try taking a moment and distracting yourself by thinking of something positive that you have experienced in the recent past. This could be an enjoyable vacation, visiting of a good friend, seeing a good movie.
- Take a short break from work and go for a walk. Find a quiet spot somewhere nearby, maybe a park with a hidden bench. Sit down, close your eyes and relax. Enjoy the silence, singing birds and the warm sun on your skin
- Take a 15 min break and just go on a simple walk
- During lunch listen to a music, read articles on the subjects that are of interest to you, call and chat with a friend
- After work, treat yourself to a spa, getting a massage or aromatherapy
- During work, every hour do a 60-second survey of your body. Take a mental inventory of your muscles from your head to your toes. Are your muscles around your neck tense? If so, drop your shoulders and relax.
- Find a quiet room in your office and try to do the following “power” exercise:
- Posture: Put your body in comfortable position and smile
- Oxygen: Take a deep breath, hold the air for 4 seconds and exhale; take no breath until you’re ready to do so
- Water: Drink a glass of water. Our bodies tend to be chronically dehydrated, which leads to headaches and irritations
- Exercise: Try to tighten up different parts of your body for a few seconds and hold them for a few seconds
- Relax: Now let it go. Try to feel how those muscle relax
- Repeat for 5-10 minutes.
As we experience stress, our adrenalin flows through our bodies causing a fight or run response. A prolonged state of such agitation can cause physical damage to our body. Meditation affects the body in exactly the opposite ways that stress does.
Meditation is a deeper form of relaxation. It is one of the oldest techniques for increasing the inner peace. It is a form of relaxation, but is more powerful than a simple relaxation. It also has longer-lasting effects if you mediate regularly for more than 20 minutes at a time (typically 20 minutes to an hour).
It restores the body to a calm state, helps it repair itself and prevent new damage from physical effects of stress. Meditation clears the mind and increases creativity. The reason why meditation often feels good is because it increases the brain’s level of dopamine. Many believe that meditation is more beneficial to mind and body than sleep because it is a conscious action of a body to get into deeper levels of relaxation. Many people practicing mediation also see improvements in their self-esteem It expands our awareness of some of the fears we have in our lives including pain and depression. The more we think about our pain, the less afraid of it we become. Mediation also benefits one’s health in that it helps relax muscles, lower blood pressure and improve sleep.
Meditation is used to help treat a wide range of physical and mental problems, such as
- Alcohol, and drug additions
- Stress, anxiety, and depression
- Managing hot flashes
You can mediate at work. Mediation is very similar to the ‘power’ exercise. It only takes 10-15 minutes. For example, you can do it before or after the lunch break:
- Find a quiet room where nobody could distract you. Silence and privacy will help you concentrate
- Sit down comfortably (on a chair or on the floor). Close your eyes and relax
- Breath steadily through your nose, focusing on how air is moving in and out of your body
- Follow the thoughts that come in and go out of your mind. on a sound, like "ooommm," or on your own breathing, or on nothing at all.
- As you exhale, say relaxing phrases, such as “my worries are going away”
Pilates, created by Joseph Pilates in Germany in 1920 as a form of rehabilitation for injured soldiers and dancers in order to strengthen their bodies and heal aches and pains. It is resistance training rather than cardiovascular and resembles more of weight lifting than that of running or aerobics. Pilates conditions the body by building strength, flexibility, coordination, and endurance without adding the muscle bulk.
Pilates movements are done on the floor or on machines. The two key elements are for spinal alignment and to strengthen the core muscles consisting of the spine, abdomen, pelvis, and hips. The movements are slow and controlled. In addition, Pilates increases circulation and helps sculpt the body and strengthen the body's "core." Regularly people who do palates feel they have better posture, are less prone to injury, and experience better overall health.
Yoga has its origins from India and is derived from the word “yoke” which means “to join” and brings together the mind, body, and spirit. It involves a series of both moving and stationary poses, combined with deep breathing. The outcome leaves your body relaxed yet energized at the same time and is an excellent stress relief technique. It relies on stretching and deep breathing exercises.
Yoga teaches you to concentrate on specific parts of the body. By doing so you train your mind to focus on what you want rather than worrying for example about what you will be having later for dinner. As a result, you mind drifts into a peaceful, calm, and relaxing state.
Yoga also focuses on controlled breathing as a way to merge the mind, body, and spirit. Controlled breathing will help you focus on muscles that are working, slow down the heart rate, calm your mind and lead to a sense of inner calm and relaxation.
As yoga combines several techniques used for stress reduction, it has the combined benefits of deep breathing, stretching, meditation, and guided imagery, in one technique (learn about Yoga postures).
Your spiritual foundation is at the center of your value system. Different people approach enrichment and caring about it in different ways, depending on their value system. Some people achieve the feeling of renewal through daily prayers, some through mediation, some through Yoga. Others reach renewal of their spirit by reading great literature, listening to music or communicating with nature. Achieving a sense of peace is of innermost importance, because once you feel at peace with yourself, you will become more successful in the workplace. You will start to find yourself promoting the welfare and good of other people, thinking more cooperatively and to feel genuinely happy for other people’s success.
You have to exercise on a regular basis. Aside from it being one of the most important investments in yourself you will make, it is an important stress reliever. If you exercise for an hour every other day (or three-four hours a week) the remaining 164 hours will feel significantly different. As you become disciplined at regular exercises, you will start to notice higher level of energy and that you find your normal activities more comfortable and pleasant. You will notice increase in self-esteem, self-confidence and overall discipline.
You can exercise at a gym, at a spa, or at home. You can also just run outside. Ideally, you will develop an exercise program that strengthens your body in three areas: physical strength, endurance and flexibility.
To build strength in your muscles you can use such muscle resistance exercises as push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, as well as working with weights. If you work out with lighter weights, for example, you’ll tend to develop leaner, but more enduring muscles. Working out with heavier weights will tend to help grow the muscles bigger. It’s up to you how much emphasis you want to put on strengthening your muscles. Most of the time, however, it is good to balance stretching, cardiovascular and strength building activities.
You can improve flexibility through stretching. Stretching can be used as a warm-up for other physical activities or by themselves, such as in Pilates.
To improve endurance, consider such cardiovascular exercises as walking, running, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, aerobics, ot other activities that help your heart pump blood through your body. Most of these exercises rely on engaging large muscle groups, such as leg or back muscles.
Most doctors will recommend achieving the heart rates to about 120-140 beats per minute and maintain it at that level. However, you should check with your doctor on the most optimal rate for you.
If you have not worked out in a long time, or at all, and decided to start exercising, make sure you start slowly. It is very easy to overdo. When your body is not used to physical exercise, it is prone to pain, injury, and even permanent damage. Read the most recent research on the subject, talk to your doctor and balance the exercise with other activities in your life.
If your company has a gym, try going there either before work, during the lunch break or after work. Depending on whether you are an early riser, chose the time that works for you best. If you work out in the morning or in the evening, aside from the direct benefits of the exercise, it will also likely help you avoid the rush hour traffic. Take a good book to read while you’re on a treadmill, or some of those emails that have been sitting in your inbox.
Of course, you’ll want to check with your doctor to determine your fitness for exercise and/or what level are appropriate for you.