7 steps to reduce stress
author: Anna Kieszkowska-Grudny
Mondays are not the most liked days of the week. After an often relaxing, but sometimes just the opposite – an intense and fun weekend, it’s time to go back to work – a world of tasks, responsibilities, internal and external obligations as well as duties.
The pressure of time, tasks and ever enforced corporate perfectionism lead us from a blissful idyll straight into the clutches of chronic stress.
So how do we handle it and reduce the stress around us?
Learn the 7 basic strategies:
1) Sleep well – actually just sleep, at least 7-9 hours of sleep every day will be your ally.
2) Observe – pinpoint the stressors (i.e. situations or people that stress you) and then: (i) think about whether you can change the stressor or the behavior of the stressor, (ii) if you come to the conclusion that you can’t, change your perception of the stressor, (iii) if both point (i) and point (ii) are not applicable, then (iii) take a vacation from the stressor. Record your observations if you can. This way, your brain will more effectively process them and remember the conclusions you came to. Remember not to worry about those stressors that you have no influence on.
3) Reprogram your thinking – do you know that 85% of the situations we fear never actually materialize? Try to engage your negative thoughts and answer the following questions: (i) is there evidence to support my doubts? (ii) do I draw conclusions without considering all the evidence? (iii) what would my friend think about this situation? (iv) will this situation matter in a year from today and in five years?4) Breathe – there is no greater remedy for stress than good, balanced breathing, and linking this exercise with meditation and mindfulness will further strengthen your breathing. Stop at least for a moment and inhale while counting to four and then breathe out while counting to four and a half. Repeat this inhale/exhale cycle 3-5 times. You will definitely notice the changes.
5) Find time for exercise – even the slightest physical activity, 5-15 min a day will help in getting rid of negative thoughts and emotions, the accumulation of stress in tissues and will further stimulate the production of hormones of happiness.
6) Define what order means to you and embrace it – nothing increases stress as much as a mess and general disorder on your desk and in your closest environment. Getting your head around chaos is unnecessary stimulation of the brain, and this means greater exposure to stress. Get rid of unnecessary things, even locking them for part of the day in a drawer.
7) Smile, smile and smile again – research by Fritz Strack  shows that even “marking” a smile, by holding a pencil across your mouth, makes us judge the same pictures (and situations in life) more positively. A smile triggers the production of serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin and the world is brighter. If you smile, you’ll see others will smile back at you. A smile is infectious.
I wish you a life with only positive and motivational stress!