Let me start by talking about “good stress” vs. “bad stress.” Certain kinds of stress can actually be good for you. Good stress can help give you focus and achieve your personal and professional goals. A deadline is a good example of how it can help you focus your efforts and achieve the results you want. Good stress tends to be short-term. It isn’t pervasive.
Bad stress on the other hand, tends to be long-term and inescapable. It can feel overwhelming and never ending. What I’ve learned over the last few years is that this type of stress can absolutely, positively, unequivocally, affect your health.
Consequently, it’s good to have a plan to address that stress and then execute on that plan.
Here are a few things that you might want to consider to tackle your stress. It’s unlikely that every one of these suggestions will resonate with you – but try most of them on for size. See how the help you and your particular situation.
- Meditate. This is a tried and true standard. I’m not always great at doing “traditional” meditation regularly but I do practice it. There are other ways to meditate. I generally take 15-20 minutes every day in a steam shower. I definitely use this time to meditate almost every day.
- Breathing. This obviously goes hand-in-hand with meditation. However, it is also useful when you find yourself in a stressful situation. When we are in a “fight or flight” scenario our brain goes into overdrive and we tend to do short, shallow breathing. To deal with stress, we should take long, deep breaths.
- Work in Your Flame. This one may take time. People are either working in their wax (they hate what they’re doing) or they’re working in their flame (they love what they’re doing). Do your best to transition out of things that are your wax and move into your flame. For the record, it took me years to get to that place. Set realistic expectations and move towards that goal daily.
- Discernment. Change the things you can change and accept the things you can’t change. A mantra I learned from Jack Canfield which I absolutely love is, I have a child, I’m not my child (or whatever applies to you – such as I have a boss, I’m not my boss). Discern what you can change and work on it. Those things that are out of your control (like the traffic), you need to let go.
- Exercise. Walking, running, weight lifting, Yoga, Cycling, martial arts – whatever you’ll do regularly is what you should be out there doing. This is a big stress reliever for many people. For me – not so much. I do it for my health, not because it relieves stress. That said, it’s obviously good for various reasons.
- Help Others. According to the American Journal of Public Health, “helping others predicted reduced mortality… by buffering the association between stress and mortality.” Who would have thought? You help someone and you feel less stressed! Well, to be honest, I’ve seen this professionally for many, many years. One of the principle core values of my company, BNI, is Givers Gain. This is a perfect example of feeling better by helping others first.
- Mental Health Day.This one is my favorite. It’s also something that I have done pretty consistently for many years. One day a week, I try to take a “mental health day.” That is, I fully and completely relax. How I relax may be different than how you relax. For me, it’s about staying home and doing what recharges my batteries. It might be watching movies or shows on my DVR or hanging out in the pool. But the bottom line is that I relax and I definitely do not leave the house. It took a few years for my family to understand my need to do this one but, seeing how I was much nicer when I could get one of these each week – made it easier.
If you’re feeling stressed out, look over this list and try some of these techniques on for size. They’ll make a difference.
Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest business networking organization. His new bestselling book, Healing begins in the Kitchencan be viewed at Amazon.com.