Stressors are no joke. A troubling work situation can be agonizing to deal with. While taking deep breaths can help in the moment, it’s not enough to cope. To integrate stress sustainably, we need to resolve the feelings, even when we can’t resolve the situation itself.
Rough day? Try These Tips
#1: Do an intense workout.
The most basic way to close the stress loop is to get active. It’s part of our physiology: “Lion attack! Run (or fight)! Get away (or win)! Go home, celebrate.” While you’re probably not facing literal lions, the principle holds. Getting in a workout on your lunch break or before going home can work wonders for your state of mind.
#2: Regain control.
Ask yourself these questions: (a) What can I control; what can’t I? (b) What is my duty; what’s not? (c) What am I willing to give; what aren’t I? Clarifying your role in the melee can give you the vantage point to see what you can do to change things, and to let go of what’s not yours.
#3: Make a plan.
Knowing which actions you’re going to take can bring immense relief. You might not be able to resolve the situation, but at least you can do your part to the best of your ability.
Worry Keeping You Up At Night?
#1: Schedule your worrying.
Block off time in your calendar to think about the issue, come up with solutions and take action. Then, when the issue tries to haunt you at night, tell it you’re going to give it your full attention on Thursday at 3 p.m., but not right now.
#2: Do a body scan.
It’s hard to worry when you’re paying attention to something else. Starting with your toes, focus on each part of your body one by one: just notice what it’s feeling and then move on. This is a powerful, meditative relaxation technique.
Stress Still Bothering You?
#1: Work in short bursts.
What’s your productivity cycle? Most people can focus well for 20 to 50 minutes; after that the axe gets dull. Figure out your best burst, and schedule your breaks to match, so you can get more done during crunch time.
#2: Take full care.
Some suggested self-care techniques: Eat healthy food, get enough sleep, take ahot shower, go for a brisk walk, or get outside. Give yourself the gift of self-care and keep your machine in good working order.
#3: Tell yourself a better story.
If you think you’re drowning, and you imagine yourself drowning, what you experience day-to-day is going to make you feel like you’re drowning. What if you imagine yourself an Olympic swimmer instead? What if you had a bottomless reservoir? How would you behave if you were a hero of yours – someone you really admire? Narrative tools like these can be game-changers. While you never want to put yourself in a situation that’s truly unhealthy, during short-term stress, changing your story can make feel like you’ve got superpowers.