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9 Quick and Effective Ways to Relieve Stress During the Workday

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


9 Quick and Effective Ways to Relieve Stress During the WorkdayOne area of my life which is a constant work in progress is managing stress. As an entrepreneur, wife and mother, you simply cannot avoid all the triggers that can cause you to worry or feel anxious. I will also admit that my desire to have things fit into pretty little boxes in life doesn’t help in this effort one bit.

Throughout my workday, I can feel subtle signs of stress creeping in. My shoulders get tense, I hold my breath and I get easily distracted. This is something I can’t – and shouldn’t – push through. I need to address the root of the problem and take action to relieve my stress. It’s the only way I can change this mindset and get back to working effectively.

Can you relate? If you have ever experienced stress at work (or even at home), here are nine techniques you can put into action quickly and discreetly to let go of this tension and get on with your day.

Take one minute to simply breathe

When tension sets in, one of the most common reactions is to hold our breath. Do you remember the last time you took a deep, conscious breath? Try it right now. Breathe in and out slowly three times. Not only will this drive oxygen to your brain, it will also give you a brief moment to collect your thoughts and reflect on what’s really weighing on you. I personally tend to carry stress long after that stressful moment has ended, leaving me feeling anxious and “off” for the rest of the day. A few deep breaths can do wonders for restoring a peaceful mindset.

Do a quick stretch

Even at your desk, you can get in a discrete but effective stretch that won’t draw too much attention to you (and make your co-workers wonder why you’re in a full on yoga pose in your cubicle). Lift your arms over your head, look side to side and pull your arms forward while looking down. Focus on whatever seems tight and tense. Stretching, combined with breathing, will get your blood moving and help you to feel more alert. It will also relieve stress.

Get outside

If you work in an office space that lacks windows or natural light, make getting outside for a few minutes throughout the day a priority! Sunlight, fresh air and new scenery are all great stress relievers. This will also boost your mood. If you are feeling particular stressed or tired, get outside and take a few minutes to reflect on how you can improve what’s getting you down.

Mentally list a few things for which you are grateful today

When we’re stressed, we tend to only focus on the problems of our day, but forget about everything that’s actually going right. Make a mental list of all of the positive things you’re taking for granted and appreciate the little blessings of the day. Most of what we’re stressed about are first-world problems anyways.

Browse a collection of inspirational quotes

Over the years, I have compiled a folder on my computer that consists on inspirational quotes. These cover all topics imaginable and are from authors old, new, famous and unknown. Whenever I’m feeling stressed or uninspired, I turn to these quotes. In just a few minutes, my mind is no longer on whatever was bothering me and I have a renewed positive outlook. I highly recommend trying this!

Make positive small talk with a co-worker

As an introvert, I have never been fond of small talk, but I promise it can do wonders for relieving stress. Talk to a co-worker, friend or complete stranger and keep the conversation light. Talk about the weather, plans for the weekend or a funny show you recently watched. When I’m stressed, I love talking to someone who knows nothing about my problem and is simply happy to see me. Realizing there are other, wonderful things in life aside from we are I’m worrying about is a refreshing reminder to not overlook the good all around us.

Look at photos of happy memories

Similar to keeping a folder of inspirational quotes on your computer, keep a folder of some of the best memories – family vacations, weddings, holidays and birthdays. When you are feeling stressed during the workday, take your mind to a positive place and reflect upon happy memories. This will give you a brief distraction while reminding you that the big things in life are really the small things. Tip: Limit each folder to no more than 20 or so photos so that you don’t risk browsing photos for hours as a means of procrastination.

Enjoy a healthy treat

People respond to stress differently when it comes to appetite. Some have no desire to eat at all, which can leave you tired and weak. Others crave junk foods as a coping mechanism, which is equally as detrimental. No matter what camp you’re in, you could benefit from eating a healthy snack when you need a stress relief. Why? These nutrients will provide your body with fuel to combat stress, grant you a break from whatever task you’re working on and give you the peace of mind that you did something good for yourself.

Get off social media

Finally, resist the temptation to turn to social media for distraction. Social media is a great platform for personally connecting with people, but it can also be a stress and anxiety inducer. Have you ever been casually browsing social media and feel your mood worsen? You are not alone. Many people experience this effect as they see the “highlight reel” of everyone else’s life and compare it to their own. Combine this with already being stressed out about other things going on in your life and you have a recipe for disaster.

Stay away from social media and anything that might tempt you to compare yourself to someone else. Everyone’s journey is unique. Instead, relieve your stress by practicing any of the techniques mentioned about (or combine two or three for added effect)!

How do you relieve stress during the workday? Share your tips and tricks by commenting below!

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How to Fully Unplug When on Vacation

slow down, relax, take it easy, keep calm, love, enjoy life, have fun and other motivational lifestyle reminders on colorful sticky notes

Whether you have planned a destination vacation or are opting for a “staycation” this year, giving yourself a few days of rest and relaxation is not only fun, it’s absolutely necessary!

For those of us that work virtually, we’re used to plugging in from anywhere which can lead to the temptation to get work done when we really should be relaxing. Can you relate? Then, take a look at these tips for how you can fully unplug and enjoy your vacation to its fullest.

Plan Ahead

Plan your time off well in advance and communicate early and often with clients and employees that you will not be doing any work during this time. Work ahead on projects that you would normally complete during this time off to minimize the amount of work on your plate when you return. Also, avoid scheduling meetings several days before and after your vacation to give you a buffer of dedicated work time to complete your most pressing tasks.

Manage Expectations About Work Communication

A great way to unplug without leaving emails or calls unanswered is to set up an automatic email response and voicemail. Be specific about when people can expect to hear back from you. You can choose to check emails just once per day to make yourself accessible for emergencies. Or you can choose to completely go offline for the week. No matter what you choose, let people know when they can reasonably expect to hear back from you. Clients are far more understanding of a lag in communication if they know you are out of the office. You may also want to designate another employee as the person to contact for urgent matters to give you full peace of mind to relax.

Commit to Your Vacation

The biggest obstacle a lot of us face when unplugging from work isn’t the separation from technology that we may all think, but rather it is the willingness to allow ourselves to fully embrace our time off. You have waited all year (maybe longer) for this break, so make sure you are just as committed to your vacation as you have been your work. Sleep in, move slow, read for fun, take a nap and strike up conversations that have absolutely nothing to do with work! It may feel weird at first, but if you can learn to “rewire” your thinking to a more relaxed state, you will feel calmer even once you return back to work.

Have you been able to fully unplug from work while on vacation this year? If so, comment below and share your tips!

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2016 in Business & Success, Life

 

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9 Quick and Effective Ways to Relieve Stress During the Workday

9 Quick and Effective Ways to Relieve Stress During the WorkdayOne area of my life which is a constant work in progress is managing stress. As an entrepreneur, wife and mother, you simply cannot avoid all the triggers that can cause you to worry or feel anxious. I will also admit that my desire to have things fit into pretty little boxes in life doesn’t help in this effort one bit.

Throughout my workday, I can feel subtle signs of stress creeping in. My shoulders get tense, I hold my breath and I get easily distracted. This is something I can’t – and shouldn’t – push through. I need to address the root of the problem and take action to relieve my stress. It’s the only way I can change this mindset and get back to working effectively.

Can you relate? If you have ever experienced stress at work (or even at home), here are nine techniques you can put into action quickly and discreetly to let go of this tension and get on with your day.

Take one minute to simply breathe

When tension sets in, one of the most common reactions is to hold our breath. Do you remember the last time you took a deep, conscious breath? Try it right now. Breathe in and out slowly three times. Not only will this drive oxygen to your brain, it will also give you a brief moment to collect your thoughts and reflect on what’s really weighing on you. I personally tend to carry stress long after that stressful moment has ended, leaving me feeling anxious and “off” for the rest of the day. A few deep breaths can do wonders for restoring a peaceful mindset.

Do a quick stretch

Even at your desk, you can get in a discrete but effective stretch that won’t draw too much attention to you (and make your co-workers wonder why you’re in a full on yoga pose in your cubicle). Lift your arms over your head, look side to side and pull your arms forward while looking down. Focus on whatever seems tight and tense. Stretching, combined with breathing, will get your blood moving and help you to feel more alert. It will also relieve stress.

Get outside

If you work in an office space that lacks windows or natural light, make getting outside for a few minutes throughout the day a priority! Sunlight, fresh air and new scenery are all great stress relievers. This will also boost your mood. If you are feeling particular stressed or tired, get outside and take a few minutes to reflect on how you can improve what’s getting you down.

Mentally list a few things for which you are grateful today

When we’re stressed, we tend to only focus on the problems of our day, but forget about everything that’s actually going right. Make a mental list of all of the positive things you’re taking for granted and appreciate the little blessings of the day. Most of what we’re stressed about are first-world problems anyways.

Browse a collection of inspirational quotes

Over the years, I have compiled a folder on my computer that consists on inspirational quotes. These cover all topics imaginable and are from authors old, new, famous and unknown. Whenever I’m feeling stressed or uninspired, I turn to these quotes. In just a few minutes, my mind is no longer on whatever was bothering me and I have a renewed positive outlook. I highly recommend trying this!

Make positive small talk with a co-worker

As an introvert, I have never been fond of small talk, but I promise it can do wonders for relieving stress. Talk to a co-worker, friend or complete stranger and keep the conversation light. Talk about the weather, plans for the weekend or a funny show you recently watched. When I’m stressed, I love talking to someone who knows nothing about my problem and is simply happy to see me. Realizing there are other, wonderful things in life aside from we are I’m worrying about is a refreshing reminder to not overlook the good all around us.

Look at photos of happy memories

Similar to keeping a folder of inspirational quotes on your computer, keep a folder of some of the best memories – family vacations, weddings, holidays and birthdays. When you are feeling stressed during the workday, take your mind to a positive place and reflect upon happy memories. This will give you a brief distraction while reminding you that the big things in life are really the small things. Tip: Limit each folder to no more than 20 or so photos so that you don’t risk browsing photos for hours as a means of procrastination.

Enjoy a healthy treat

People respond to stress differently when it comes to appetite. Some have no desire to eat at all, which can leave you tired and weak. Others crave junk foods as a coping mechanism, which is equally as detrimental. No matter what camp you’re in, you could benefit from eating a healthy snack when you need a stress relief. Why? These nutrients will provide your body with fuel to combat stress, grant you a break from whatever task you’re working on and give you the peace of mind that you did something good for yourself.

Get off social media

Finally, resist the temptation to turn to social media for distraction. Social media is a great platform for personally connecting with people, but it can also be a stress and anxiety inducer. Have you ever been casually browsing social media and feel your mood worsen? You are not alone. Many people experience this effect as they see the “highlight reel” of everyone else’s life and compare it to their own. Combine this with already being stressed out about other things going on in your life and you have a recipe for disaster.

Stay away from social media and anything that might tempt you to compare yourself to someone else. Everyone’s journey is unique. Instead, relieve your stress by practicing any of the techniques mentioned about (or combine two or three for added effect)!

How do you relieve stress during the workday? Share your tips and tricks by commenting below!

 
17 Comments

Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Business & Success, Life

 

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I’m an “I”—Understanding the Inner Workings of an Introvert

One week ago, I would have considered myself an outgoing, social extrovert…but that was before I saw the results of my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. According to this highly regarded test, I’m quite an introvert. Should this really come as a surprise to me? I mean, I did choose a career in which I work by myself 90% of the time. I hate talking on the phone, often answering voice mails with emails. And I only check-in with my own family about once a week. Yet, there are so many ways to identify someone as an introvert that are far more common and far less socially awkward than what the generalizations would have you believe. We’re not all hermits, we aren’t necessarily shy and we can still be the life of the party. So what really does define an introvert? I can only speak for myself and am by no means a psychologist, but these are some of my own qualities which may help explain why Myers-Briggs calls me an “I.”

I get my energy from being alone. This took me the first 20 years of my life to really identify. I couldn’t figure out why I would go to a party, have a great time, but after so many hours – like the flip of a switch – feel an even greater desire to go home. I’m very much a social person and enjoy interacting with people, but as an introvert, it requires a great deal of my energy. Once this energy is depleted, I want nothing more than to be some place familiar and alone. I need to decompress. Because both my office and my work schedule are flexible, I recharge during the day and appear much like a social extrovert when I’m with family and friends in the evening. The only time I ever really notice my need for downtime is when I don’t get enough. It’s not that I can’t function when this happens, I just might be a little less energetic and a little quieter.

It might be ridiculous to consider a cat a close friend, but with a face like this who could resist?

I have a few, very close friends. In both relationship and proximity, my “closest” friends are Scott and my cat Pinot…compounded by the fact we all live together. Rather than having many broad friendships, I prefer to put my energy into fewer, but deeper ones. Who I’m closest with at any given time may vary, but my number of close friendships remains fairly consistent. One of the most difficult aspects of being an introvert is that I don’t have a need to be around other people. That’s not to say I don’t like people, but I just don’t need to have daily social interaction to thrive. Because of this, I can go weeks, months even years without seeing someone who I consider a really close friend. To me, closeness isn’t dependent upon frequency of seeing each other, but to my friend – especially one who is an extrovert – this may make the relationship feel distant and out of touch. This is something I’m trying to make a better effort to overcome.

When I spend time with someone, I like it to be substantial. Closely linked to my statement above, when I do set aside time to be with someone, I like it to be for several hours, if not more. It’s not in my personality to “drop by just to say hi” or “swing by for a quick drink.” If I’m taking the time to get ready and go somewhere, I want to stay for more than a few minutes. For the longest time, I envied people who could just casually hang-out with friends, watching TV, going shopping, picking up a bite to eat. They made it look easy when everything I pulled together had to be so structured and formal. I now realize that as an introvert, I’m not inclined to casually hang out because for me it’s an energy loss not an energy gain. So when I do spend time with someone I like it to be substantial because it’s not likely to happen as frequently as it does for an extrovert.

I’m more thought-oriented than action-oriented. Another way to put this is that I do most of my living internally or mentally. I thrive in a work environment that’s completely serene – no people, no noise, no artificial light. I’ve been told this is unrealistic and like working in a vacuum. I don’t disagree; it’s just how I work most effectively. I can and have worked in other environments that were quite the opposite. I still accomplished my tasks, but I never felt like I was working as efficiently as I could if I were alone. Another good example of these differences is to ask someone what they like to do on vacation – a time often dedicated to relaxation. An extrovert might enjoy sight-seeing, exploring the social nightlife or taking part in a lot of activities like surfing or jet skiing. For me, a relaxing vacation is a book and the beach with plenty of personal space and no agenda. By the 5th day, sure I’m starting to crave some excitement and that’s the point. When I come back from vacation I’m completely recharged and ready to tackle whatever life has in store.

The bottom-line: My experience of better understanding my own personality through Myers-Briggs has also given me a better understanding of the personalities of those around me. I’m now able to see that many of my frustrations with someone often stems from us not understanding or respecting each others’ personalities and why we can both experience the same situation, but process it differently. You would think I would have understood the “everyone’s different” concept long before last week – and I thought I did – but there’s so much more to it than that.  Rational behavior and right answers are completely subjective to each individual person and how they would handle a situation. The goal should not be to make someone believe your viewpoint, it should be to meet them halfway.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Life

 

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Last Glimpse of Summer

I’m taking a brief hiatus from blogging this week, but in the meantime enjoy some images of my last glimpse of summer before I inevitably springboard head-first into Autumn.

And I think after seeing these, you’ll understand my reasons for the blogging break….

The shoreline at Topsail Beach, NC

Patrick lives for beach vacations each year

 
8 Comments

Posted by on September 8, 2011 in Life

 

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