Juggling home and work commitments can be a circus act all in itself. When you add community (volunteer efforts, time with friends, religious or social groups) and self (exercise, enriching your mind, hobbies, and spirituality) into any typical day, you end up with a compelling reason for wanting to stay under the covers when the alarm clock goes off.
While traveling earlier this year, I picked up the Spring 2015 edition of the Harvard Business Review OnPoint at the airport. There are nearly 100 pages of articles dedicated to the topic of stress. Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to read this publication, and it has been very empowering. Here are some of my takeaways from this reading.
Heidi Grant Halvorson in her article, Nine Ways Successful People Defeat Stress, emphasizes the importance of creating and relying upon routines. Routines can reduce the number of decisions we need to make in a day. Heidi also recommends adding where and when to your To-Do List. This additional step in your daily and/or weekly planning can be a huge time saver.
In the article, How to Handle Stress in the Moment, Rebecca Knight suggests that we can train ourselves to identify our stress signals. What are your physiological signs of stress? Rebecca also suggests that in moments of stress, people can learn to talk themselves down, take deep breaths, and reach out to someone who can provide a listening ear.
Jackie and John Coleman in their article, How Couples Can Cope with Professional Stress, suggest that outside stressors can push relationships to a breaking point. The authors suggest that we listen and support one another through professional stressors by exercising and laughing together.
Rod Friedman in his article, Regular Exercise Is Part of Your Job, reminded me that our mental firepower is linked to our physical regimen and that exercise during regular work hours can increase work performance. With the advantages of an employer who offers gym equipment, my own personal paid membership at a local gym, and a treadmill sitting in my home, I was once again reminded of the importance of exercise.
In the article, Why Leaders Don’t Brag About Successfully Managing Stress, James R. Bailey mentions four categories that executives take to renew themselves: investing time in health (exercise, sleep, and diet), removal from work‘s struggles (concerts, family time, movies, sporting events, etc.), intellectual activities (puzzles, games, reading, hobbies, etc.) and introspection (meditation, reflection, prayer, etc.). Do you spend enough time in all four categories to manage the pressures of your everyday life?
One of my favorite articles in the publication is Pull the Plug on Stress written by Bruce Cryer, Rollin McCraty, and Doc Childre. I valued the call to action that we may in fact be able to “pull the plug on stress.” This article shares five steps for pulling the plug on stress: recognize and disengage, breathe through your heart by focusing on the area near your heart, invoke a positive feeling, ask yourself “Is there a better alternative?”, and note a change in your perspective.
I wish I had a magic wand to remove all of the stressors from our lives whether they are financial worries, family illnesses, work expectations, or family responsibilities, but I don’t have that magic wand. What I can offer are a few tips in this blog post shared by experts from the Harvard Business Review OnPoint, Spring 2015 edition.
Throughout my personal journey to reduce and manage stress, I have identified my stressors. In some cases, those stressors can be avoided and in other instances I have learned to manage them by often times calling upon my incredible friends and family members to help me push through them.
We each have sizeable responsibilities on our plates. Although our circumstances and responsibilities may vary, we can often times defeat stress by empowering ourselves to make hard decisions, enlisting the support of others, and by taking better care of ourselves. Yes! A healthy “you” is your greatest asset!
What suggestions do you have for managing your stress?