Three Things You Can Do Now To Reduce Stress

Three Things You Can Do Now To Reduce Stress

Are any of​ these scenes familiar?

...The kids woke up late again this morning. By the​ time you​ get them to​ school and fight rush hour traffic,​ you'll be 20 minutes late for the​ meeting you're supposed to​ lead...

...When you​ were first hired,​ you​ felt lucky to​ get your customer service job. But now you​ wonder if​ it's worth it. the​ phones ring constantly and you​ hear nothing but complaints. Last week,​ you​ called in​ sick just to​ get a​ break...

...It's almost time for your presentation. Top management is​ here and your supervisor is​ counting on​ you​ to​ make her look good. you​ were up all night finishing the​ Powerpoint. you​ wonder if​ you've anticipated all the​ possible questions...

Stress is​ a​ permanent feature of​ our lives,​ but it​ really seems to​ ramp up at​ work. More than two-thirds of​ American workers report that workplace stress is​ a​ problem.

This means we're all spending way too much time in​ “fight or​ flight” mode. And it's taking a​ toll on​ our bodies through weakened immune systems,​ high blood pressure,​ and heart disease. These conditions shorten our lives and lower the​ quality of​ what's left.

There are lots of​ strategies for managing stress,​ but when stress blindsides us with no time to​ prepare,​ we don't need strategy. We need quick,​ practical steps we can take NOW that work fast and can be done anywhere. When stress launches it's next surprise attack,​ try one of​ these: breathe deeply,​ visualize mentally,​ relax progressively.

Breathe Deeply

Breathing deeply could be the​ single most effective way to​ stay calm. Everyone breathes,​ but a​ lot of​ us breathe the​ wrong way--shallow,​ fast,​ and high in​ the​ chest. This kind of​ breathing is​ restrictive,​ it​ increases our anxious feelings,​ and it​ fuels our body's negative stress reactions.

Slow,​ deep breathing triggers a​ relaxation response,​ calming the​ body and focusing the​ mind. it​ increases the​ amount of​ oxygen in​ our blood,​ raising our performance potential.

Are you​ breathing the​ right way? to​ find out,​ try this: put one hand on​ your chest and the​ other on​ your abdomen just below your rib cage. Now breathe. Which hand moves? if​ it’s the​ hand on​ your chest,​ your breathing is​ too shallow.

The trick is​ to​ make the​ hand on​ your abdomen move. Inhale deeply while you​ slowly count to​ five. Try to​ get your abdomen to​ expand instead of​ your chest. if​ you​ have trouble making it​ happen,​ try it​ lying on​ your back. With a​ little practice and patience,​ you'll be able to​ shift into a​ deep breathing pattern automatically.

Once you​ learn the​ technique of​ deep breathing,​ you​ can do it​ anytime—in the​ middle of​ rush hour traffic,​ right before you​ handle the​ next irate customer,​ even in​ the​ middle of​ your big presentation.

Visualize Mentally

There are two kinds of​ visualization techniques. the​ first one involves building a​ mental image of​ a​ place that's relaxing for you. it​ may be a​ remembered place that triggers relaxed,​ contented feelings,​ or​ it​ may be imaginary. the​ basic idea is​ to​ give your mind something to​ focus on​ besides the​ stress.

Once you​ have visualized your restful scene,​ you​ should spend about 10 minutes attempting to​ imagine it​ as​ fully as​ possible. Inventory your senses. What do you​ see? How does it​ smell? Do you​ hear anything? What do you​ feel? What can you​ taste? Then slowly allow yourself to​ return to​ the​ real world around you. Effective visualization will take some practice.

Professional musicians and Olympic athletes practice a​ different form of​ visualization: a​ mental rehearsal of​ what's about to​ happen. Instead of​ visualizing a​ relaxing scene,​ mentally rehearse the​ situation that's causing your stress. Visualize the​ meeting you're about to​ walk into and rehearse what happens. Imagine yourself successfully completing tasks that give you​ trouble. Visualize feeling calm and in​ control. This type of​ mental rehearsal can help you​ actually attain these feelings when the​ situation becomes reality.

Relax Progressively

Breathing deeply and visualizing mentally both involve your mind convincing your body to​ relax. Progressive muscle relaxation works the​ other way,​ with your body reporting to​ your mind that all is​ well.

Progressive relaxation works by tensing and relaxing muscles throughout your body,​ one group at​ a​ time. Try this: starting at​ your feet and working your way up to​ your head,​ contract and loosen each muscle group one after the​ other. Become aware of​ each muscle,​ tense it,​ hold the​ tension for a​ count of​ five,​ then slowly relax it. as​ the​ muscles in​ your body relax,​ your mind will become calmer and more focused.

The more you​ practice,​ the​ more sensitive your muscles will become to​ levels of​ tension and relaxation. the​ goal is​ to​ reach the​ point where you​ can relax your body on​ demand without having to​ go through the​ entire cycle. if​ you​ can do that,​ then stress doesn't stand a​ chance.

Be aware of​ the​ situations that cause you​ negative stress. if​ you​ can see them coming sooner,​ it​ may give you​ extra time to​ breathe deeply,​ visualize mentally,​ and relax progressively. Not only will these fast and easy techniques help you​ in​ the​ moment of​ stress,​ using them regularly may help lessen the​ long term effects of​ stress on​ your life and health.

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