Your job is demanding. There are never enough hours in the day. Everyone wants your attention. You’re pulled in too many directions. Things on your desk, in your purse, and on your person keep ringing and beeping. Welcome to life in 2010 where, if you don’t make a deliberate effort to maintain a degree of equanimity, stress can become a real issue. Aside from being unpleasant, left unchecked, chronic stress can lead to both physical and emotional problems. There are a multitude of ways to manage and reduce stress, most of which you’ve likely heard about – meditation, regular exercise, deep breathing, yoga, and so forth. These are all good ideas; practice one or more daily to keep stress at bay. And here are five more suggestions you can try starting tomorrow (perhaps even today) to reduce stress.
1. Get to work 10-15 minutes early.
This may seem counterintuitive, given that you’re already probably putting in eight or more hours at the office. But taking a few minutes for yourself first thing in the morning can help make the entire day run more smoothly. Make a cup of coffee or tea, scan the headlines, tidy up your work area, review the day ahead, or write your “to-do” list (more on that in a moment).
2. Take frequent, short breaks.
It’s easy to get immersed in work and forget to take breaks throughout the day, or get into the habit of thinking that you “don’t have time” for a break. At least once every 90 minutes, get away from your work station. Walk outside, do a few stretches, drink a glass of water. Five minutes to yourself can be quite refreshing.
3. Nourish yourself.
Instead of reaching for that third cup of coffee and whatever happens to be lying around in the breakroom to eat mid-morning, choose herbal tea or water along with a healthy snack instead. A handful of unsalted nuts or a banana will give you the energy needed to effectively juggle all that you have to do. A pastry or bag of chips, not so much.
4. Use lists.
Monthly goals, coupled with weekly and daily task lists, will help you stay focused and feel confident knowing that things are not falling through the cracks. Read Getting Things Done, by productivity expert David Allen, for more on the power of using lists.
5. Let it go.
Not every battle is worth fighting; pick and choose carefully. Don’t take everything so seriously (especially yourself). And, by all means, cultivate a sense of humor?