Have you had your share of stress this past week?
I battled through grueling rush hour traffic just to have the airline cancel my flight – no reason given.
I had hurricaine Katrina cancel out my plans to attend a training in Florida.
I got held up for a hearing.
I found out I will be doing double duty on 2 highly demanding wards because the doc who was supposed to cover decided to take off (again).
I am writing you from yet another airport after not sleeping, driving through torrential blinding rain yet somehow being ahead of the clip.
Yep, no matter how much you try to manage stress, sometime it just is going to rear its head – maybe just to test you or help you build character.
Maybe to give perverse Mr. Murphy a little pleasure.
So, with stress being ever so present, how to you get the best of it?
Here are a couple of tips that should help you deflate, derail and demolish stress:
1) Plan for the Unexpected – this is the #1 best tip. It reminds me of my scouting day. The motto, “Be Prepared” (and ‘yes’, I know that’s from the Boy Scouts). Think about it…when you’re running behind, do more things tend to get in your way and tick you off? Of course they do. It’s like you’re putting out the signal, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date”, and someone somewhere out there is stepping to the plate saying, “If you think you’re late now, watch what I do!” So schedule in a buffer zone. It definitely helps, big time.
2) Slow Down – You’ve heard the song, “You’ve got to stop and smell the roses.” Well, we’re not talking about that per se but it’s a good allegory. Think of that song when you find yourself spinnin’. There are people who are good at multitasking (they usually bear two X chromosomes). True multitaskers still take one thing at a time. They pick one urgent task and work on it (delegating counts). When that’s done, they move on to the next one…and so on. You can do the same. Prioritize. Use a checklist. This helps to short circuit being overwhelmed and defeats one thing that feeds stress.
3) Learn to Say NO! – OK, this is the second biggest and most important tip. You must learn to say NO. Stop piling it higher and deeper. Stop people pleasing. Stop equating saying YES with showing love. Start saying NO when you are overwhelmed, overworked or just cannot handle any more. Delegate it. Suggest someone ELSE handle it. Defer it. Just say NO. Nothing (and no one) is worth losing your health or your sanity for.
Invariably, your speaking up for yourself may come as a shock to some people, especially those used to getting their way with you. Since these people who are not used to hearing that word from you (NO), they may deflect what you say or question you. Here’s how to handle them:
When they come back to you asking, â€œWhat do you mean?â€ Answer them this way: â€œJust what donâ€™t you understand? Then â€˜Nâ€™ or the â€˜Oâ€™?â€ Be in reality and mean it! Stand your ground. If saying â€œnoâ€ is hard for you, keep a card in your pocket with the word NO written on it in dark black letters. If you find yourself choking on the word or having an anxiety attack trying to say those two letter, tell them to wait a minute, pull out the card and hand it to them. They’ll get the message (you gave it to them, right?).
4) You’re Only Human…Accept It. I loved Marvel Comics when I was growing up. I remember my brothers and I running to the corner store to get the latest issue of XMen, Hulk, Iron Man and Fantastic Four. Saturday morning cartoons was an event. We feasted on a morning full of the antics and conquests of these superheroes. Then there was Batman, Tarzan and Superman with their legendary actors.
It was a great time, a time that I still treasure. Although we all have heroes, there never was a real superman (or superwoman). No one’s perfect. It’s OK to strive for perfection, but trying to be a perfectionist wastes time and only adds to stress. Most ‘perfectionists’ that I know are minutia addicts. They cannot see that the leaves are on a tree. Plus perfectionism can be the seed for a whole lot of neurotic behaviors. The only man that I recall who was ‘perfect’ was God.
Is that you?
5) Program Your Desired Outcome in Your Mind. Olympic and world class athletes do it. So do top CEOâ€™s of fortune 500 companies. Create the results you desire in your head first. Simply stated, begin with the end in mind – the end result that is.
Before you face a stressful situation, live it out or preview it in your mind. Color it with all the trappings, ie. how you would dress, what you would say, what the setting would look like, etc. Feel how you would feel. Feel the different outcomes. This mental rehearsal helps to decrease the stress of the situation. It’s a way to face your fears and deflate them. Use the power of visualization to manage any stressful situation more effectively. See it, do it, conquer it in your mind…then bring THAT confident victory into reality.
6) Take a Time Out for a Serenity Break. This is something I’m very big on and something many people totally forget. Peace is regenerative… that is peace and QUIET. No boom box, no cell phone, no traffic jams. Silence. Go into the silence. Air out your brain. Meditate. A few minutes of quiet reflection can rejuvenate you and give you a whole new outlook on a particular situation.
It is a way to clear your mind and decompress all of the days’ pressures. So, instead of going out for a smoke or hitting happy hour, take 5-10 minutes to recharge with silence.
7) Get Physical. Nothing burns off stress better than a flood of endorphins. You can get this release through exercise. Get some physical activity in every day. 10 minutes is better than none. You can even do this at work during your lunch break. Take a walk, jog, ride a bike. Get moving.
Just Do It!
Yes, I know it can be hard to carve out some time to get this done. It’s even a challenge for me – especially since I spend so much time on the road and away from my home gym. And with gyms being increasingly LOUD and chaotic, I know even I use that as an excuse to not go. Well, there just may be a solution…a way for you to get a great workout without having to take time out to work out.
Intrigued? I know I was when I stumbled on it.
Just the other day I came across a NEW invention that helps you exercise your entire body’s major muscle groups while going through your normal day’s work. I’m going to test it out and report my findings here. So stay tuned.
8 ) Oh Get a Life Will Ya – One person said, “A life worth living is worth writing about.” But what do you write about? How about writing about what you’re doing in your life. But a boring life wouldn’t be something anyone would want to read about, right? So why not add some color to your life by developing your hobbies and interests. Get involved with something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy anything, try something new or get involved with an organization that ‘gives’. As the commercial says, “Get back into life.”
It’s not a spectator sport.
9) Take Care of Yourself – adopt a healthy lifestyle. Balance is the key. So take special care to what you eat, how much you sleep, your amount and frequency of exercise. Limits negative pursuits and such things as caffeine, artificial sugars, cigarettes and alcohol. Make sure that you get out and play.
10) Take a Load Off – VENT! Stuffing is de-licious in turkeys, but is TOXIC for the human spirit. Don’t stuff your frustrations, vent them. Talk it over with someone who is supportive. Don’t keep it bottled up inside because it only eats at YOU. Resolve ALL conflict the day it occurs, even if that means resolving that you will not react or take an attitude to bed with you. If you fail to do this, what you take to bed with you only gets disorted and grows larger because your subconscious works on it all night.
Your mind never sleeps. So try to keep it programmed with POSITIVES, and dump the negatives as fast as you can. Why? Negative attitudes send out negative neurotransmitters that bring about negative results in your body and your mind. That is PROVEN. So why not choose to get rid of negative emotions, thoughts and feelings as fast as you can?
Sometimes you can be so ‘lost’ in the problem that it is hard to see a solution. Make sure you have someone to â€˜unloadâ€™ with…even if you have to pay them (like a coach or therapist). Keeping it all in isn’t healthy. Venting can be very helpful and therapeutic of itself (just don’t make a career of it). An objective ear can help you solve your problems, which would decrease your stress overall.
11) LAUGH! – Laughter does the body good. Studies have shown that it releases all sorts of favorable substances in the body, adds to longevity and strengthens the immuse system. The bible talks a lot about a merry heart. So whenever you’re feeling stressed, go rent Blazing Saddles, the Princess Bride, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Young Frankenstein, some really silly B movie or watch a Looney Tunes marathon and laugh your stress away.
Like milk, it does the body good.
aka Dr. J