“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” -William James
If there is one thing that I have learned in more than three decades in business, especially in the deadline-driven event business, it is that we have control over our stress. Stress relief is a choice. There will always be more emails than we can possibly read, unexpected visitors, fire drills, distractions, changes, and disruptions. But living in a pattern of constant, high level stress is unhealthy–for both your emotions and your physical health. Addressing the stress in your life will pave the way to being healthier and more productive.
How can you manage the stressful situations that seem to fill your day? Let’s review a few tips, and remember: you have more control than you think!
Stress relief starts with YOU!
Stress management starts with your mindset. What are you putting into your head? What feelings are you carrying with you? It’s time to take charge and realize that you control your days and your decisions. As Bob Dimuccio, President of Amica Mutual Insurance, professes: “Always be the calmest person in the room.” When you are confronted with a situation that is disturbing or disheartening, take a breath and remember there are two (if not more) sides to every story. Choose to see the bright side.
Be Open to Learning
“Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way, and expecting different results,” the famous saying goes. To relieve the stress and disappointment this brings, it may be time to reconsider the way you have “always” done it and try something new.
Bless and Release
If there are negative people in your life who cause you stress with their negative attitude, it may be time to limit your time with them or bless and release them out of your life. Surround yourself, as best you can, with people who possess a positive attitude, strong work ethic, integrity, and true gratitude. Like attracts like–avoid people and conditions that stress you out!
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall?
What is the cause of stress in your life? Is it your job, colleagues, home, spouse, or certain friends? Are you “stressed out” all the time by your family, boss, or clients? Do you blame this stress on others? Do you thrive on stress? Take a good look in the mirror–could you be the source of your own challenges? Perhaps it is time to take ownership of your own stress. Keep a journal and track the causes of stress, in addition to who and what you are surrounding yourself with. Then take responsibility for your own stress relief.
Busy is NOT A Contest!
We have all had times in our lives when we have said “yes” to many things, overfilling our plates. While a full plate is attractive, and perhaps–in a sense–comforting, we only have so much time in a day. Do your best to avoid “buyer’s remorse” – regret that you signed up for an activity or program that you do not have time for. Set your boundaries and recognize your limits!
Plan and practice a way of saying “no” that still honors and respects the person asking. And when you do say “no,” it does not require a dissertation on how busy you are. Busy is not a contest, because there are no winners–only losers. Ranting on and on about your busy-ness will merely make the asker feel guilty for asking.
Take Care of Your Body
Make rest a priority. Aim for eight hours of sleep, or the amount of time your body truly needs. Maintain an exercise schedule, ideally on a daily basis. Physical activity makes for excellent stress relief: even a 10-minute walk will do wonders for your health. Instead of enjoying a coffee or cocktail with a friend, plan a “walk and talk.” Stock up on healthy foods, and be conscious of what you put in your body–including your head! Make sure you schedule enough “me time” with activities that relax you and bring you joy.
Pour Into Relationships
Value the people in your life who make you feel good about yourself. The people who champion and appreciate you are a gift in your life. Cultivate these relationships and make time for them. It can be so easy to take people for granted, especially the ones we are closest to. Spending time with people who are interesting to be with and interested in your life, will serve to relieve your stress.
Don’t just survive the holidays this year: thrive! Make a daily practice of identifying and managing sources of stress, and enjoy the serene fruits of your labor!
Gail Lowney Alofsin is an author, speaker, adjunct professor, and business executive. Her book, Your Someday is NOW – What are you Waiting For? has raised over $40,000 for non-profit organizations since April 2014.
A lifelong student and humanitarian, Gail believes that we all have the capability to be a leader in our own lives, influencing the lives of others to positive peak performance and success. To book Gail for your next conference or company meeting, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter: @gailalofsin.