Today, I'm feeling totally stressed out -- too much on my plate. Can you relate? Most workers can because new studies show job stress is at an all-time high.
Fortunately, there are ways to take control and chill. Karen Koffler, Medical Director, Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach, is weighing in on my Work Life Balance Blog today with some suggestions. She has some great credentials. At Canyon Ranch, a luxury boutique hotel dedicated to wellness, she serves as the Medical Director, using functional medicine and natural approaches to help transform the health of guests. Koffler says says stress has also been shown to reduce blood flow to the brain, impairing our memory and preventing creative thinking. These reactions are certainly counterproductive in the workplace.
1. Become aware of what you are feeling. Believe it or not, many of us live in such a state of perpetual stress that we have become immune to noticing it. The first step in reducing it though, is to check in with your body and notice what you are feeling.
2. Breathe: one cannot both be stressed and focused on your breath at the same time. When you sense the tension caused by stress, shift your attention to your breath and breathe in for a count of three, out for a count four in a smooth rhythm for 10 breaths. No one will have any idea you are doing this.
3. Push away and go for a quick brisk walk. I like to go in the stairwell down the hall and run up to the 10th floor and back again. Physical activity even in brief bursts can alleviate stress and re-focus attention.
4. Daydream: the most powerful word in the English language is “imagine.” Just allowing yourself 5 minutes to imagine something positive and uplifting: a good encounter with a colleague, a vacation plan, an enjoyable experience you have had or anticipate, will soothe your physiology. Kids know this best and we can learn from them.
5. Avoid coffee. We frequently use coffee as a means to distract ourselves, as in “taking a coffee break.” But all that caffeine stimulates the fight or flight response, worsening the stress burden in our body. Instead, calmly prepare a cup of green tea (1/5ththe caffeine of coffee) which is rich in L-theanine, a compound that is calming to the nervous system. The simple ritual of preparing a cup of tea, long-revered in Asia, can function as a mindful meditation and dissipate your stressful thoughts. In addition, it has numerous health benefits so you will be doing yourself good.
6. And finally, self-acceptance. It's hard to relax when one in a space of non-acceptance or self- judgment. Acceptance is relaxation.
Do you feel like workplace stress is greater than pre-recession? Or do you feel as if the recent emphasis on wellness has helped?