When I was younger and still in my high-powered corporate career I would wind down the week over a cocktail table with a few friends and a few drinks. This end of the work week ritual was my way of transitioning from the non-stop activity of my career into the supposed more peaceful arena of my personal life.
However, while giving me a good buzz, it really didn’t do anything for my stress levels mainly because I couldn’t turn my career off even when at home. There’s something about today’s technology having you reachable no matter what time or place that can suck in even the most laid back person.
And with all that accessibility comes that big bug-a-boo called STRESS!!
But what exactly is this thing you might call stress?
Hmmm – not so easy perhaps to define; and that is because it is a catchall phrase (“I’m soooo stressed!”) for a range of emotions and events that you may experience in your daily life.
I know when I hear my four-year old nephew tell me he is stressed when I tell him to pick up his toys (“You’re stressing me out Aunt Cathy!”) that things have gone too far!
And that is one of the problems when you have a catchall phrase being used to describe a variety of emotional and physiological responses.
After a while you might no longer be able to correctly identify the actual emotion you are feeling; and, if you can’t identify it, you can’t effectively process and resolve it.
Are You Suffering From Chronic Stress?
Today’s careers demand a lot. One person’s might be a whirlwind of activity and multi-tasking. Someone else’s might be a struggle to keep two jobs going in an eighty hour workweek. Another’s might involve extensive travel that keeps them away from home for long stretches of time.
And any of these situations continued over a long period of time (even 6 months) can become sources of chronic stress.
Here’s an interesting stress fact shown through repeated workplace absenteeism studies:
Virtually all workplace absenteeism and most illnesses have their roots in the body’s inability to process chronic stress.
You really don’t need a study to tell you this. You already know because you know the difference in feeling you have when you are calm versus when you are not.
Stress becomes chronic when it builds day to day without relief. It becomes chronic when you get to that point of overwhelm or you get sick or you start having trouble just keeping your schedule on track.
So, if you can’t change the circumstance (and often you cannot, depending on your career), what can you do to effectively manage or even eliminate workplace stress?
3 Actions You Can Do Right Now To Alleviate Stress
Here are my three single best actions you can take when you have an experience you define as stress:
1. Re-Wording Your Stress
This is a biggie. Instead of saying “I’m stressed,” try to figure out what emotion you are actually feeling and why. If you can say “I’m frustrated because I can’t seem to figure out how to meet my deadline at work,” you have just taken a big step towards reclaiming your own power in the situation. The longer an abstraction like the word “stress” takes the place of you knowing what it is you are feeling, the less able you will be to change your response.
2. Plan Your Solution
Now that you are speaking in a new and clearer language, take that experience of “stress” and come up with an action plan to address whatever the situation is that prompted the response. In the above example, once you can identify the real emotion and issue, you can them go into problem-solving mode and plan how you will meet that deadline rather than staying in a state of helplessness about it.
3. Find your still point.
Your life has a flow just like a river – if you can find the river within and get to that point where the flow is like the gentlest pulse of your own heart, then you will have found that place where stress disappears. So take up a practice like meditation or deep breathing and reconnect with the still point within. When you are feeling stressed you tend to stop breathing and breathe very shallowly. So, just by consciously breathing deeply for three to five deep cleansing breaths, you can shift and reverse your detrimental physiological responses.
Now you may not think that just consciously breathing deeply for three to five deep cleansing breaths would make a big difference but it does.
Shifting your awareness into your breath consciously is a stress-buster of great magnitude!
So as my gift to you I want you to have my mini-stress buster meditation audio to allow you to de-stress at your desk. Listen in now and work with your breath and affirmations to bring your energy present.
In a state of presence stress cannot exist.
Music by composer and musician Paul Greenwood